I can count the number of times I have attended midnight movie premiers on one hand. In fact, I can count them on two fingers: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
The key to going to these midnight premiers is to go with people who are as invested and dedicated to the experience as yourself. For me, this meant going to see Catching Fire with some fellow English majors and future English teachers. We waited for a solid hour in a line wrapped around the theater. We watched as the line filled with Katniss Everdeens in leather and braids, Finnicks with make-shift tridents, and Capitalists in the most extreme articles of clothing movie-goers could find in their closets at home.
I was first introduced to The Hunger Games during my summer internship at The Literacy Council. As I sorted and shelved boxes of donated books, I came across a copy of the first book in Suzanne Collins’ series and set it aside rather than on the shelf. During my lunch break, I read the first few chapters, and I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t stop. I went home and finished the book that night.
As I prepared to see Catching Fire, I had trouble getting my hands on a copy of the second novel in The Hunger Games trilogy. I went to three public libraries, and everyone was out of Catching Fire. Finally, I gave in and purchased a copy of my own. And it was well worth it.
I love comparing and contrasting books to their film adaptations, and this one compares pretty well. The script of the film is faithful to Suzanne Collins’ novel in many aspects: the characters, the dialogue, the frustratingly abrupt ending. But there are some significant differences; a main difference being that the novel is written in the perspective of Katniss, while the film is not limited to one character’s point of view.
And speaking of the characters, the cast has finally grown on me. I’ll admit, I was not a huge fan of Jennifer Lawrence playing Katniss Everdeen in the first film because I thought she was too pretty to play Katniss. But her talent on screen and her quirky personality off-screen have won me over. In her interview with InStyle, Lawrence ate kettle corn out of her pockets and joked about being “the richest couch-jumper ever,” feeling too young and unstable to settle down right now but jokingly considering retirement after filming the final Hunger Games movie.
The well-chosen cast does not stop with Lawrence. She is joined by Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and Liam Hemsworth as Gale, who put her in a romantic dilemma not unlike that of The Notebook. The familiar faces of Woody Harrelson as the always-intoxicated Haymitch, Elizabeth Banks as the innocently-sweet Effie, and Stanley Tucci and the outrageous Capitalist TV host Caesar all return in the second film, more drunk and extreme than ever. The addition of new characters like Sam Claflin as Finnick, the District 4 Tribute and ally with a killer smile and a equally dangerous trident, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, the new game-maker, add humor and excellence to the cast.
While I applaud Debra Zane for her casting, I still always tend to prefer the book to the movie because of the details. While this film touches on some of the details in the book, every written detail cannot be portrayed on screen. Catching Fire, the book, contains small details throughout that add to the romance and revolution. The characters in the woods searching for District 13, the repeated occurrence of the mockingjay, the comments about the pregnancy, and some intimate scenes between Katniss and Peeta were all absent from the film. These details act as clues while reading, and their absence from the film make each new scene more shocking than the last.
Overall, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire succeeds in both forms. The film brings the world of the Capital, the Districts, and the clock-like arena to life, while the novel provides the most intricate details that keep you turning each page.
If you have read the book, go see the movie. If you have seen the movie, read the book. If you have not experienced either, take your pick.
– Hannah Faye