Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)

The second movie of the Hunger Games trilogy. Except that I've heard they're going to make two movies out of the third book. Because, you know, money.

Spoilery thoughts behind the link (spoilers relate to the whole trilogy):

I'm not going to summarize the plot for this one - I'm sure everyone is familiar with the story who wants to be.

The movie was pretty well done. It stayed pretty true to the book, and the special effects were good. It made me unhappy to watch, so it captured the feel of the book pretty well, too.

It is definitely not a stand-alone movie. It wouldn't make a lot of sense outside of the context of the first movie, and at the end of the movie I got a lot of "what happens??" questions from my intrepid co-watchers-of-the-movie.

I actually liked the first Hunger Games book, and the first movie somewhat as well. It isn't my usual cup of tea, and has a lot of things that make me unhappy, but I liked the over-arching theme that hope and love and caring for each other will win you through at the end. I did ask someone to spoil me on the outcome of the entire series - whether the evil unjust society is overthrown in the end. With the answer of "yes," I felt pretty good about the first book as a piece of YA fiction, in spite of the horrors it contained.

The second part of the story, Catching Fire, I wasn't very fond of. I was still interested enough to continue on and see what happened in the final book of the trilogy. This part of the story, however, both in the book and in the film version, just left me kindof queasy and did not leave me filled with hope as the first book had.

This installment of the story does give more feel for how completely messed up the Capital culture is, and why it needs to fall. It does shine more light on how fragile the system is. But it doesn't give me the feeling of hope to go along with it. I want that. I need it. It doesn't make sense to me why Katniss as she is in this book (and, I'll admit I am also thinking particularly about the next book) is such a symbol of hope. Unless they're trying to make the point that we place our hopes on a symbol without knowing much of anything about it. She's wholly unsympathetic throughout all of the books, and moreso as the story moves along.

This film is very clearly the middle of a multi-part story. And not one that makes me particularly happy about life.

Bechdel Test: Pass.

Up or down ballot (note for myself): DOWN. I don't feel it is good enough (or complete enough a story) by itself for a Hugo Award.

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