Catching Fire-The Movie
There are loads and loads of horrible book-to-movie adaptations (Percy Jackson & Eragon). There are hosts of just okay adaptions (The Host). There are even great adaptations (Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.) But never in my life have I seen a PERFECT book-to-movie adaptation, in fact, I was convinced such a thing did not exist...
...Until last night.
Catching Fire was EVERYTHING that it should have been and EVERYTHING that it could have been and EVERYTHING that I wanted it to be, all rolled into one emotional, heartbreaking movie.
It's unreasonable to ask movies to leave in every single detail from the book, but honestly, they managed to leave in most of the details anyway. And more vitally, all the important stuff was not just included, but highlighted, the plot-moving things and the world-building things specifically. Even most of the lines were nearly directly quoted from the books.
Now on to the emotional side of things. My cry count was a total of 4 times where I had tears streaming down my face, but I spent the entire movie in a state of 'almost-crying'. Another fact of note is that the tone and the themes of the book can be found prominently displayed in the movie. It is about corruption and political power-struggles and selflessness. It is about the destructive nature of human beings and our ability to accept even the most disgusting, violent things as normal. For movies like this one, that could be so easily misinterpreted into something violent for the sake of violence, they stayed true to the book's brilliant purpose of using violence to sensitize us to violence (rather than desensitizing us, like most things). I think one of my favorite parts was the slow breakdown of part of both Effie's worldview because of the actions of the victors. The interviews with Caesar were perfectly executed. They managed to thwart at least some of Snow's ideology.
Now to casting. THEY COULD NOT HAVE DONE A BETTER JOB. It mattered less if a person wasn't like how I pictured the character in the book because the hearts and souls of those characters were all perfectly in place.
Jennifer Lawrence is a genius and deserves all of the awards. ALL OF THEM. NOW. She taps into Katniss' snark as well as her heartbreak. She presents the character in the way the character deserves to be presented. I particularly loved that Katniss was allowed to break down, she was allowed to cry and still be a powerful character (I'd say she was a more powerful character for that). They did a great job of showing the effects that the first Hunger Games had on her and her mental state. If she wasn't shown as having a form of PTSD then she wouldn't be the selfless heroine that we know from the books.
Josh Hutcherson is the perfect Peeta. He's good at playing the selfless hero as well as the angry tribute in a few scenes. I was especially impressed with him in the district 11 scene and his scenes in the arena and the train. Okay, so I was impressed with all his scenes. For all the doubt in him, he brings Peeta to light in a way that is truly brilliant.
Sam Claflin WAS THE ABSOLUTE PERFECT FINNICK. (For the record, I realize that I am using the word perfect a lot, but I honestly do not care one bit. It's all true.) His Finnick is spot on with how Finnick is supposed to be. His every scene with Mags was touching. And him with the Jabberjays? And him being sarcastic with Katniss? And him? Finnick is alive in him in a way I didn't anticipate, but it was wonderful.
My reaction toward Jena Malone as Johanna Mason: IMPRESSED. IMPRESSED. I AM SO IMPRESSED. She played on the anger and the bitterness that is Johanna. She made me remember why I love that character, she is cruel and cold and angry at the world, but because she has reason to be. (Yes, I'm going to use that word again,) Jena Malone is the PERFECT Johanna.
Liam Hemsworth. Okay, I don't know if it was his lines in the Hunger Games, but I was not that into his performance in the first movie. I didn't hate him in it, he just came off as a bit cheesy. But in this one? He really surprised me (a pleasant surprise). He did excellent work in this movie and I feel much better about him as Gale. Which is good because we are headed into Mockingjay where he has a MUCH bigger part.
The lady who played Mags (Lynn Cohen) did a fantastic job, even without having any lines. I just want to give her a big hug. She made me cry (or almost-cry) every time she came on the screen. Mags has always been a silent hero, someone that we should aspire to be like, and Lynn Cohen showcased her magnificently.
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. He did a great job in The Hunger Games, but in my opinion in this movie he was given better lines to show Haymitch's sentiments as well as his humor in a way that didn't detract from his humor. We see him caring about Peeta and Katniss. We see their small, pieced-together family on the tour as well as when they return for the Quarter Quell. Woody Harrelson has become Haymitch in my mind. He fully embodies what the character is supposed to be. (I'm trying not to say it again. But he's the perfect Haymitch....oops).
Donald Sutherland as President Snow. YES. Creepy, disgusting, conniving. He embodies everything that President Snow is supposed to be. I personally love all the behind-the-scenes of the games that they show in the movies that the book can't show because it is from Katniss' perspective alone. But all of the scenes that are added in are heavily implied and, I believe, necessary for the movie to show.
Philip Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee. For me, he was exactly how I pictured him. But beyond just appearance, I think he did a great job of pretending to be evil and manipulative (well, you could make the argument that he really is manipulative. But either way...) I loved that if you hadn't read it, you would be held in suspense just like you were in the book.
Characters that really impressed me, but that I don't want to spread this review out for miles to go into detail for all of them.
-Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman
-Lenny Kravitz as Cinna (he added to the cry count)
-Elizabeth Banks as Effie
-Willow Shields as Prim
-Rue's Mother (she added to the cry count)
Basically the PERFECT CAST IS PERFECT.
I loved how they showed the rebellions in the districts in a way that aided the climax of the story as it was supposed to. The scope of this movie is broader than the first one (just like it is in the books). We see victors and other districts and allies being made. We are being prepared for the destruction that is Mockingjay.
This movie ripped my heart out just like the book did and I am both dreading Mockingjay and am anticipating it. I hope Francis Lawrence stays on the project because he upped the game by about a billion.
If every book-to-movie adaptation was like this one, the world would be a better place (albeit not a happier one because let's be honest, if this movie didn't kill you emotionally there is something wrong with you).