Disclaimer: I am a huge Hunger Games fan, and have been ever since I read the first book as an Advanced Reader Copy in 2008 when I was working at Barnes&Noble. I also own the entire China Glaze Hunger Games nail polish line (nail polish is a particular weakness of mine) and I’ve dressed up as Katniss for Halloween for the last two years (DIY quiver and arrows to come). But the true depth of my love for this series showed itself last March when I went to see the film every single day the weekend it opened. While that was mainly a fluke of having friends who wanted to see the film on different days, going to the midnight premiere was all me.
This time around, for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, I did the same thing – though I went to the first showing at 8:00 pm instead. If you are a fan of a film, I have to say that this is definitely the way to watch it as the audience makes the movie experience that much better. Everyone else is a fan, just like you, and ridiculously excited to be there. As such, it is less likely that someone will check their phone in the middle of the action, talk or ask questions, and generally do all of those other things that can impact a moviegoer’s experience. And believe me, the crowd in Theatre 9 did not disappoint – everyone laughed together and jumped out of their seats at the same moments. It was wonderful!
As for the film itself, WOW!! Of the books, I am partial to the first one and like Catching Fire and Mockingjay each a little less. I anticipated that my opinion of the films would be about the same, but Catching Fire exceeded all of my expectations. I thought the film moved at a good pace, all of the key book moments were captured on screen, and the ending left me squealing in my seat through most of the credits. While the first movie really set up the background and history of the Hunger Games, as well as Katniss’s place in them, Catching Fire focused more on all of the political machinations that exist behind the scenes, particularly in the battle between President Snow and the girl on fire. You really begin to see that while Katniss is this strong, stubborn fighter, she has very little control over how she is being used, both by the Capital and the growing rebellion.
If I had one criticism of the film (this is a review after all!), it would be the music. I found the soundtrack of the first Hunger Games film to be so moving, that I bought it the day after I saw the premiere. This time around, however, it seems like everyone was more concerned about the “Songs Inspired By The Hunger Games” than the actual score. I honestly cannot point to a single tune or scene that made the music stand out. Granted, there were less dramatic cinematic scenes in Catching Fire, but still – good music enhances a film, great music stays with the viewer long after the credits have rolled.