The Book: 2009
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
The Film: 2013
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire directed by Gavin Hood (Lionsgate Entertainment)
[If you haven’t read Catching Fire yet (And seriously, why haven’t you? There is no excuse), then this will contain a few plot spoilers.]
Catching Fire is my favourite book in the Hunger Games trilogy. The characters we came to know in the first book, we learn a little better, and the stakes are even higher now because its not only Katniss’s and Peeta’s lives on the line, but those of their family and friends.
The Hunger Games was so unlike any other teen book I had read at the time so what I would find in the sequel was unprecedented—what would be in store for Katniss and Peeta when they return home as “victors”? I remember reading Catching Fire for the first time—I was in bed, naively thinking I would just read a chapter before going to sleep—and reading that moment when the rules of the Third Quarter Quell were announced… That one male and one female victor would be drawn… I think my heart stopped. Katniss was going back into the arena. Even now I get chills thinking about that moment.
I really liked the first movie, but I think Catching Fire blows it out of the water. Gone is the shaky camera (thankfully!), the storyline is a bit tighter, clearer, and the acting is amazing. Jennifer Lawrence did a great job in the first one but I felt that this movie really showcased her acting ability; one look and she can make a scene either funny or absolutely devastating. And oh, how I love Elizabeth Banks’s Effie! She really added to the character she brought to life in the first film, showing in her seemingly superficial way that she really cares about Katniss and Peeta, and she hates what is happening to them.
Also, we meet the victors from past games like Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) and my favourite of the bunch, Johanna Mason (Jena Malone), both of whom I think were cast really well.
Catching Fire is an intense and well-paced film—you know a movie is good when two and a half hours later the credits roll and you think “Wow, it’s been two hours already?” The time flew by without any lagging scenes. All the fat has been trimmed away so that every scene is significant. A few highlights for me were the scenes in the Victors’ Tour where people are rioting but Katniss and Peeta have to struggle through their meaningless speeches and where the one little girl says, “When I grow up, I want to volunteer just like you.” *Shivers!* I just love how the conflict and dissent is captured. Yes, a lot is missing from the book, or some details we tweaked (here are a few), but as a film it worked. It’s Suzanne Collin’s Catching Fire but is a new Catching Fire on its own and I LOVED it! I can’t wait to see it again.
“Popcorn and a Book” is a feature where I compare one book with its adapted film. If you would like to participate in this meme, please visit the “Popcorn and a Book” main page for details.