Today, for Page to Screen, I'm reviewing Catching Fire. Tom and I watched it last night, and we both absolutely loved it!
Please note: minor spoilers ahead!
5 reasons why Catching Fire is better than the original source material
As a book lover, it’s pretty much sacrilegious for me to say that a film is better than the book.
But after watching Catching Fire with Tom last night, we’ve come up with five reasons why even the most ardent Hunger Games fans like ourselves, might find the film better than the original source material.
*** Minor spoilers ahead ***
5. The tighter story and writing
While they are extremely loyal to the source material, they've also molded and reshaped parts of the story in a way that only add to the emotional depth of Katniss's story. They've eliminated some details that are inconsequential to the overall story, while also adding on facts (and people) that not only make certain characters more well-rounded, but will likely have a stronger payoff for the climax of the trilogy.
4. The more thorough look into the world of the Capitol
We see behind-the-scenes talks between Plutarch and President Snow, which goes into thorough detail on the thought process behind the Games and their attempts to control the rebellion. We also have moments of startling honesty from secondary characters, which shows that despite their outlandish exterior, they understand deep down, the Games aren't just for entertainment purposes.
Bottom line: the Capitol gets humanized in a way that goes beyond the slightly cookie-cutter dystopian government that we got in the books.
3. A more thorough understanding of the other competitors in the Games
Thanks to a combination of strong acting and excellent directing choices, we're able to garner a stronger feel on what drives and motivates Finnick, Johanna and the rest.
I was especially moved by a scene where we see Finnick's genuine affection for another character, and how it was an especially moving portent of the events that will play out in the third book.
2. A more convincing love story (or love triangle)
We can see Lawrence's Katniss palpably struggling with wanting to give into her long-standing feelings for Gale, while realizing that she's perhaps undermined Peeta all along. We can also see how both boys work for different aspects of Katniss, and how they are good for her in their own respective rights.
1. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss
Simply put: she’s a remarkable actress.
Lawrence delivers a no-holds-barred performance as Katniss, in all of her post-Games psychosis. Even though Katniss attempts to act tough and guarded as she returns to life in District 12, it doesn't take much to remind her (and to set her off) over the traumas that she suffered in the arena.
Early on in the film, a chance encounter while hunting sends Lawrence's Katniss into a hysterical panic attack, grasping and grabbing at long-time friend Gale, in an effort to reassure herself that she hasn't been sent back to the arena to kill those who cross her path.
Even as she's taken back into Capitol's fold, both for the Victor's Tour and the eventual Quarter Quell, Lawrence's Katniss never fails to show the emotions that are simmering just below the surface.
When visiting District 11, Lawrence's eyes are full of both appreciation for Peeta's ability to take charge in an emotionally difficult situation, and equal parts horror and distress, as she realizes that she's been the indirect cause of people being killed across Panem.
This provides a stark contrast with the sarcasm and anger in her eyes as she caters to the Capitol's whims in the lead up to the Quell - Lawrence never fails to show her ever-present disdain, for the people who are brainlessly celebrating the Games and the death of innocent teens.
Both Tom and I think that Lawrence's performance added much-needed layers and depth to Katniss's emotional journey. I could see why she felt so conflicted about her feelings for Peeta and Gale, while still absolutely believing that she would do anything to make sure Peeta comes home alive.
Bottom line: Lawrence transforms Katniss from an atypical heroine, into a fully fleshed out, damaged but brave girl, who viewers (and readers) will root for.