It’s time for part 2 y’all. You’ve been patient. You’ve waited. Was it worth it?
Ah hell yeah. Catching Fire is a wicked smart, biting social commentary wrapping up in a fun and fabulous action flick. With kickass costuming, makeup and set design, it’s tough not to be sucked in and forget about the plot. But first-rate performances by Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, as well as newbies Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, and Amanda Plummer keep your heart in the game.
Yes, definitely spring for the IMAX if you can & it’s available nearby – even though the film does a Big IMAX Reveal that gets ebbs a bit due to the heart wrenching scene immediately before it, the cinematography, art design, and awesome doohickeys (yeah) really leap out on the extra big screen.
Wanna know what I was thinking as I watched the film? Read on for a special “What Was I Thinking – Hunger Games” edition!
What Was I Thinking – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
* Katniss, trying to get back to a regular life in District 12, but PTSD keeps knocking on her sanity.
* Haymitch, still a drunk. Peeta, still the kicked dog of love.
* Katniss’ sister Prim is more of a presence here. Taking the reins from their mentally fragile mother, Prim becomes a healer. Wanna bet that’s important later? If you already read the books, put your hand down.
* President Snow, even more sinister. Now that Katniss’ actions have stirred the Districts into rebellion, there’s more than just her life on the line.
* Snow – “Would you like to be in a real war?” GULP.
* We see what is only hinted at in the books; District 11 is a war zone after the riots in The Hunger Games. District 8 citizens rebelling, and being gunned down in the streets.
* Police look like Vader’s Stormtroopers.
* Wiress is the role Amanda Plumber was born to play. Nobody else could pull off the damaged Tribune’s outer crazy and inner brilliance.
* Alexander McQueen’s gowns were used right off the runway, and they’re perfect. Simply perfect. Effie in “costume”? Nup. That’s Grade A couture y’all.
* The destruction of The Hub, disturbingly realistic. As is the Gale whipping scene. Set design and editing bring these scenes – and many others – as close to perfection as Hollywood can get. Meaning? Big effects on a realistic background. Well done.
* Jennifer Lawrence brings her first-class acting chops, where other Oscar winners might be tempted to phone it in. Katniss’ reaction to the 75th Quarter Quell, how she becomes more and more disturbed by the Capitol’s power plays, and her fear when Peeta is hurt in the arena (must he always be the Hunger Games butt monkey?) I’d say it’s an acting master class, but she’s still so young. Screw it; it’s a Master Class for anyone interested in limelight.
* Haymitch – “There are survivors. There are no winners.” *niff*
* Costuming, hair, makeup round out the excellent work of set and art design. Can I just say that I love it when filmmakers truly give it their all? ‘Cause I do. You won’t want to schedule a bathroom break during Katniss’ Quarter Quell interview at the Capitol. Actually, you’ll want to watch as all the Tributes get their chance to speak. Well written, well acted, and a top notch director. Good stuff.
* Elizabeth Banks breathes real life into airhead Capitol fashion addict/District 12 “wrangler” Effie Trinket. Banks let’s you see that there’s a heart and soul beating underneath all that taffeta.
* If you go for IMAX, be prepared to have a Wizard of Oz moment, as the full screen size is unveiled at a critical, but well thought out, moment. The only thing? That moment occurs right after a scene so riveting that it’s hard to shift focus and truly appreciate the spectacle. At least for a moment or two.
* The arena, beautiful and deadly. I could stare at that set for hours and see something new each time I blinked. Oh wait, that’s exactly what I did.
* It’s been long time since I’ve read the books. I know the basics, but the specifics? The small moments? I’d forgotten. I’m glad. It’s those moments that define this picture. A snarl from “The World’s Ugliest Cat” to President Snow backwashing blood into his champagne. This is a sequel that looked at the Sophomore Slump and made that curse it’s bitch. Bravo.