Here’s where I go 100% fangirl on you guys. If you haven’t seen the film yet (or, obviously, read the book), don’t go any further, because spoilers lurk within!
OMG SO AWESOME
For a slightly more detailed breakdown:
Stuff I Didn’t Like (i.e., the very short list)
1) WTF was that animated mockingjay at the end? The final shot of Katniss’ face was so incredible — the sheer journey of the emotions Jennifer Lawrence portrayed there, in only a few seconds — and then, suddenly, flaming cartoon bird? I thought it didn’t match the mood or tone of what had gone before at all.
2) Philip Seymour Hoffman underplayed nicely as Plutarch Heavensbee, but where was the costume and makeup department? Heavensbee is a Capitol man, and while he might not be as outlandish as Effie Trinket, he should have looked at least somewhat different from the average guy on the street in real life. He had a purple waistcoat in one scene, but that just didn’t cut it. The costumers underplay the looks for President Snow and Cinna very nicely while still adding touches that make them look at home in the Capitol, but with Heavensbee that just wasn’t there, and I found the lack really jarring.
3) They are emphasizing the Gale relationship more even than in the books; in the novel, I felt like Katniss cared for Gale deeply but had not at all made up her mind about wanting to be with him romantically – maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. The movie made it seem like they were definitely, 100% together. You know, I’m not actually complaining about more kissing scenes with Liam Hemsworth, because WHY WOULD I DO THAT, but it’s going to be interesting to see how they’re going to take Katniss from where she is in this movie to where she winds up at the end of Mockingjay over the next two movies … especially given that Peeta’s not going to be in most of the next one. They’ve got their work cut out for them, is what I’m saying.
4) There is no four, because OMG AWESOME.
Stuff I Liked (i.e., the very long list)
1) Jennifer Lawrence, you are incredible. As Cleo said to me on Twitter, “think about how much mileage they got out of J.Law’s face.” Not only in that brilliant final shot, but repeatedly throughout the movie, the director conveys some of the most important emotional shifts without dialogue, and without any other visual cues except the close up of her subtly expressive face. It’s not like we didn’t already know she was fantastic, but this is yet more evidence of what an accomplished performer she is.
2) In fact, all the acting was terrific. Sam Clafin was 100% how I pictured Finnick in the books, both in terms of beauty and arrogance. Lynn Cohen was so eloquent without a word of dialogue as Mags. And hey, how about Jeffrey Wright as Beetee? In the books, I was never like, “Wow, if only we got more about Beetee,” but today as I watched “Catching Fire,” I thought, “I wish we could have a Beetee movie.” And kudos to Jena Malone for winning me over, because she was 100% NOT how I pictured Johanna in the books, but she came in with her own interpretation, sold it and owned it. Donald Sutherland – do I even have to say he was incredible? Stanley Tucci killed as Caesar Flickerman again, as did Lenny Kravitz (oh, Cinna!); Amanda Plummer was great as Wiress, so on and so forth.
3) Singled out for special love: Josh Hutcherson (wounded but coping with it like a grown-ass man, decent and noble to the core without ever being dull), Liam Hemsworth (intense, at times to the point of desperation, without ever losing his hunter’s cool), Elizabeth Banks (had no idea Effie Trinket could break my heart), and Woody Harrelson (who skillfully kept the plotter in Haymitch in view at all times, while still making it possible for Katniss believably not to see it).
4) Those baboons freaked me the hell out. So did the poison smoke. So did all the dangers of the arena, really; I was in almost unbearable tension at times. EVEN THOUGH I KNOW HOW IT ENDS.
5) I love how swiftly but convincingly Prim’s greater maturity was portrayed. The moment where she gives Gale the injection – you know, that was where you went, yep, that’s Katniss’ sister.
6) Despite the misgivings I spoke about above, I actually really liked the scenes with Gale and Katniss. The post-flogging stuff I found intensely moving. And that very first scene — man, that was maybe the single most brilliantly done part of the whole thing. Katniss has a flashback to killing someonel in the arena. She freaks out. Gale keeps saying, “Shh, shh, you’re safe, I’m here.” So we see how strong, supportive and caring he is, AND that he fundamentally doesn’t understand something about what Katniss went through. Katniss wasn’t flashing back to being in danger; the horror that haunted her most was having to kill. It’s this small difference between their perceptions of combat that eventually comes to be so significant for them, and it came through there with such subtlety and perfection.
7) OK, there should have been more making out during the beach scene, which is a whole lot hotter & heavier in the book – but I thought the necessary emotional moment came through anyway. When Katniss says, “I need you,” I didn’t feel like there was any doubt (either for the audience or for her) that she was speaking not for the cameras but from the heart.
8) If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr, you already know my love for Mags is a deep, abiding thing. But oh, it was so beautiful here, and honestly, I felt like the bond between her and Finnick came across even more strongly than in the book. Maybe there’s just something visceral and compelling about the actual sight of Finnick very literally running for his life — but carrying on her back, all the way, without so much as a flicker of hesitation or doubt. Here, when Mags kissed him goodbye, we knew she was doing this because she realized otherwise Finnick would keep protecting her at the risk of his own life. Mags sacrifices her life twice – once for Annie, then again for Finnick – which is why she is and will always remain my favorite HG character.
9) The Caesar Flickerman show – when all the tributes take hands together at the end – was outstanding. I actually got chills. That image of all the tributes standing together, proclaiming the injustice, worked so brilliantly.
In short, LOVED IT.
What did you guys think?