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« Episode 55: Chamber Band | Main | Episode 53: Will To Live »

Episode 54: The Movie Review -Catching Fire

Finally the day has come! Catching Fire has been released! Here our thoughts of the film. We discuss actor's performances, differences from the book, favorite scenes, and least favorite scenes. Be sure to email in your thoughts to be read on the next episode!

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Reader Comments (1)

Hi, I’m a listener from a ways back, but haven’t kept up with the podcast due to time. I’m sad to see that the other co-hosts are no more. That’s what happens when you go off to college though, but hopefully you guys still keep in touch. I was curious to hear what you thought of "Catching Fire".

I saw the movie with the same friend I saw "The Hunger Games" with and we both thought "Catching Fire" was pretty good. It was better than the first movie. I have noticed that the general consensus is that the first book is better than the second, but the second movie is better than the first. I think this has to do in part because of the different directors. Gary Ross did a good job in directing the first one, but he had some glaring deficiencies in the action department. The quality of the actions shots and special effects in "Catching Fire" were noticeably better and that is probably because Francis Lawrence has more experience in directing such films. To be fair though, Lawrence probably had a bigger budget to work with than Ross did since the first movie did so well. Also, Ross had the tougher job. He had to establish a franchise and find the right people to play the cast for the rest of series and develop the look and universe of the movie. If he had screwed up in this area, the franchise would be dead before it really got started. Like Chris Columbus of the Harry Potter movies, Ross laid down the foundation for the films that gave the franchise the launching point it needed to be the success it is today. He did a great enough job to get someone like me (not a member of the target audience for this book/film) to watch the movie and read the book.

Lawrence did a great job adapting "Catching Fire" to a movie format. It’s probably one of the best adaptions that I can recall considering the limitations that any movie poses on a book source. Most of the changes or omissions are rather inconsequential or just not that necessary for a movie watcher to see to understand the main plot. What I did miss was how the book shows Katniss and her feelings for Peeta. If one only watched the movie, one gets the impression that Katniss has no feelings for Peeta at all and that it was a complete act. If you’ve read the book, you know that it’s a lot more complicated than that. You don’t get that sense of confusion that Katniss feels about Peeta in the movie because we don’t get to hear her thoughts and emotions like we do in the book. From what I remember of reading the books, Katniss initially did pretend to love Peeta to save them both during the Games, but that one kiss in the cave did awake feelings that Katniss never felt before, not even with Gale. She reiterates her confusion and desire to not let Peeta go at the end of the first book. Katniss is clearly not indifferent to Peeta and she does develop feelings for him. She is so inexperienced in the love department that she isn’t fully aware of what she actually feels.
The whole scene of Katniss and Peeta spending their last day together before the Quell on the rooftop wasn’t even in the movie. The only things they did keep was Katniss’s need to have Peeta be there in bed with her so that she could sleep and ward off the nightmares, and their talk at the beach when Peeta tries to convince Katniss that she needs to live and not him. Because of these omissions, it is hard to understand why Katniss all of a sudden wants to save Peeta instead of herself. It seems rather sudden and out of the blue if you haven’t read the books. It just feels like Lawrence is trying to emphasis the love triangle by making Gale a more viable competitor for Katniss’s affection by highlighting that more while keeping Katniss’s feelings for Peeta more muted.

In all honestly, I always felt the book made the Katniss-Peeta pairing the stronger one. Yes, Gale has a longer history with Katniss, but it is one of mainly friendship and common benefit. Katniss had never even seen Gale beyond that light until after the Games. She never had the same sense of passion with Gale that she did when she kissed Peeta. Peeta has consistently shown he puts Katniss’s welfare and happiness above everything, including his own life. This would be important to someone like Katniss who has trust issues that were caused by the sudden death of her father and the failure of her mother to take care of the family following her father’s death. In addition, Peeta is one of the few people who can fully understand what Katniss went through during the Games since Peeta was right there by her side going through the same things. They are both veterans of the same war. The movie is trying to make Gale a more viable leg of the love triangle as a consequence by focusing on them, and not really mentioning all the feelings that Katniss in the book describes for Peeta. Maybe this will change in "Mockingjay" especially when Katniss sees the deterioration and torture that Peeta suffers at the Capital’s hands.

I really hope that Lawrence takes all the liberties he needs to take to make the "Mockingjay" movie have a more detailed ending about what happens to not only Peeta and Katniss, but also all the other characters years after the events in the books. "Mockingjay" was pretty scarce in this department so anything that gives a more detailed and satisfying closure will be very welcomed. Personally, I would also like to see Katniss actually choose Peeta because she realizes what he means to her rather than any perception that she just ends up with him out of default.
One of the interesting changes in the movie is the expanded role that President Snow has. Not only do we get further exposition about Snow’s view of power and suppression, but we also see the effect the rebellion and Katniss’s role in that rebellion has on Snow and his responses to contain the growing revolt among the districts. I am really looking forward to that scene when Snow and Katniss meet and talk again with the same promise to be nothing but be honest near the end of "Mockingjay".

I totally agree with your comments about Stanley Tucci. Cesar Flickerman is such a minor role, but Tucci does an incredible job playing the character that any review of the movies is going to mention him and his performance. Overall the casting for both the old and new cast was well done. I know there was some hub bub about the actor playing Finnick and that he was not fit for the original description of the character, but I do think his portrayal of the character was still pretty good. Joanna was a fun character to watch, especially during her interview with Flickerman. In short, the casting was well done, and I think the priority to get people who could do their roles well was a clear first priority over anyone’s preconceived notion on what the character should necessarily look like.

Heh, I think the word you guys are looking for when describing the scenes is that they look cinematic. Again, I think it’s directly due to Lawrence being the director and his experience in doing these kinds of scenes. I’m glad he’ll being doing the rest of the series.

I don’t really care for the songs on the soundtrack mainly because they don’t appear in the movie except for “Atlas” during the credits. They are basically songs inspired by the movie, but not actually in the movie. I personally don’t see the point of that. If I buy an OST, I want the music actually in the movie. The music reminds me of those scenes and images from the movie. I have noticed for myself that if I listen to a song before I see the movie, the song doesn’t have the same impact with me because I don’t have the context. Even a song I didn’t care much for before I saw the film can be a whole lot better after I see the film because of that context and associated imagery.

With the changes going on for the podcast and you personally, what are your plans for the podcast? Will you get new hosts or continue to do guest hosts? Do you plan to continue the podcast all the way to the end of the movies? Maybe you can have your boyfriend on (assuming he’s a fan of the books/movies)? I hope the podcast continues to work out.


February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTC

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