Monday, December 2, 2013

We all delight in seeing our favorite books brought to life on the big screen.  We cringe at casting.  We scoff at release dates.  All the while, we're gearing up to see if the director's vision lives up to the world we've conceived in our own imaginations.  Sometimes it does...and sometimes it doesn't.  We could lament the movies that don't measure up, or we could return to the books for a re-read, possibly with a slightly different mind-set.  All's fair when it comes to artistic vision, right?

This week, I'm featuring the following adaptation:

Title: Catching Fire
Director: Francis Lawrence
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Sam Claflin
Release date: November 22, 2013
Based on: Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins

View on IMDb

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.

I purposely didn't re-read Catching Fire prior to seeing the movie.  I'm always disappointed when I do that because it makes it that much easier to pick up on all the things that an adaptation is lacking.  But with this movie, I honestly don't think anything was missing.  The power, the message, the emotion of the was all there for the world to see in the movie.

Jennifer Lawrence is just awesome.  I don't even really think I need to go into that because you've seen her act, you've seen the interviews, and you've seen her spaz out over meeting Jeff Bridges.  She is the girl you want to be best friends with.  Sam Claflin as Finnick was Finnick.  Holy hotness!  And lots of people are finally giving Josh Hutcherson the praise he deserves after his role in this sequel, but I've been a fan since Bridge to Terabithia.  I cried like nobody's business at the end of that movie, and I know he'll have me crying again in Mockingjay.

But what really surprised me, though, is how much I love Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket.  Admittedly, I kind of despised this character in the books because of what she and the Capitol stood for, but when brought to life on the big screen, I can see her character for what she really is:  a woman who is only now witnessing the horrible injustices served up at the hands of the Capitol.  Effie was oblivious to it all before the Quarter Quell, I think, and that doesn't make it alright, but now her eyes are open and she's come to think of Katniss, Peeta and even Haymitch as family.

Oh, and the costumes, especially Effie's...I think they were even more elaborate and gorgeous and just stunning this time around.  I mean that twirling "girl on fire" dress in the first movie was amazing, but the dress with the mockingjay wings?  That was beyond impressive.  And the statement it makes!  The costume designers on these movies are simply amazing.

I'm hoping to see the movie again with my sister to pick up on all the nuances I missed while I was fangirling the first time around.  Also, she's pissed that I saw it without her, especially since I was the one who got her to read the series in the first place.  Oops.  =)  But maybe I'll re-read before I see it this time.  Just in case I really did miss something.

All in all, I thought the movie was absolutely brilliant.  The cast and the acting were phenomenal, even better than in the first movie, and even though this movie isn't quite as sad and emotionally draining as the story in the first, my eyes still welled up a few times.  These adaptations are really living up to the supremely high expectations the books set for them. My only complaint is that I wish the final book weren't being split into two movies.  :(

Have you read the book?  Have you seen the movie?  How do you think this one fared as an adaptation?


  1. The cast blew me away with this movie. I must say that I really warmed up for Peeta in this movie and he definitely performed better than THG (in my eyes). I absolutely loved the movie. They did justice to my favorite book in this series and OH MY, Finnick :D He couldn't have been better! So happy they casted him right.

    From the moment the movie started I was hooked. The vibe in the whole movie is just amazing and I loved the costumes. Effie didn't make a real impression on me in THG, but she was lovely. I liked how she started to realize how horrible everything is.

  2. This movie review is fabulous. FINALLY someone is like me in the Hutcherson department because he's been my celeb crush since Bridge to Terabithia as well. He was absolutely cute. And EFFIE! Ah, that look. The costumes were gorgeous. The acting was great. The new director was brilliant. I did reread before I saw the movie (sometimes it really is bad to do so) and I was still pleased with how it came out. My biggest problem was with Gale though. I think they misrepresented their relationship. But oh well. That last scene...the last goodbye with Peeta....*sobs*

  3. I absolutely loved the movie! The costumes were amazing and I thought Jennifer and Josh were great at showing that neither Katniss nor Peeta was the same after the first game. Like you I wasn't a big fan of Effie in the books, but also to my surprise I warmed up to her a little during this film.

  4. I agree with basically everything you said here. Catching Fire exceeded The Hunger Games movie in virtually every way possible. I also really, really liked what they did with Johanna's character. :)
    I'm disappointed in the splitting up of the third book as well. Catching Fire was SO much better than The Hunger Games, and I'd love it if the film interpretation of Mockingjay improves even more. I'm a bit skeptical as to how that can happen, though, if they're splitting one book with one cohesive plot into two films. Here's hoping they prove us wrong and make two brilliant films!

  5. Is a compelling movie for the time its on screen, but knowing what's next to come, you can't help but get a little excited. Good review Jen.

  6. Ahh -- I still have not seen this and I am so excited that it's good. I thought the first movie was okay, but it didn't really capture the spirit of the book for me, so I'm excited! I need a snow day too :)
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

  7. Oh gosh! That Mockingjay dress was to-die-for! I honestly was completely fangirling over the entire thing. I understand that the initial message was there, but I did feel a like I was let down when I didn't get to be a girl for a while and look at bridal gowns. So-sue-me! I was more looking forward to see what the costume designers would come up with. Oh well. The rest of the movie was fantastic and I was on edge because I knew the end was going to be a cliff-y and whatnot, I was just curious overall how they were going to do better than The Hunger Games (#1).
    All in all, I LOVE the series both the books and the movies and I CANNOT wait for Mockingjay and I know that between Peta, Prim, and Gale, and District 13, and... Yea, I'm going to cry, I know it.
    - Krys

  8. Gosh, so much love for this movie! And I like your strategy there-- you don't re-read so that you don't remember everything that the movie may be missing. And honestly, I didn't re-read either, and I thought the movie was AMAZING even if it left out some little details :) They made changes which worked, and the cast was top-notch, and Effie was given a heart, and the fashion was stunning, and the movie was just perfect for me. I'm glad that the movies give the books justice this time around. So kudos to the people who helped make it and I CANNOT wait for Mockingjay's release <3


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