‘The Hunger Games – Catching Fire’ hit theaters Friday and shattered November records making $161.1 million it’s debut weekend. As avid fans of the series, the writers of Rock Paper Watch are counting down the 12 things they loved about the second installment on the big screen. This goes without saying but, SPOILERS ahead! Let us know what you think. Did this movie make up for the lackluster first? What did you think of JLaw? Team Peeta or Team Gale? Did the sight of Finnick make you swoon?
1. Holy sh*t, she actually loves him
The first movie missed the mark in showing the complexity of the Katniss/Peeta relationship. Catching Fire was spot-on. It made it clear that Katniss, even though she has feelings for Gale, also has feelings for Peeta. I would have appreciated more flirtation during training but the film made up for it in the arena. When Peeta “dies” after walking into a forcefield and is revived by Finnick, Jennifer Lawrence’s reaction was so intense it took your breath away. And in case that wasn’t enough, the look on Finnick’s face after read, “holy sh*t, she actually does love him,” followed by Snow’s granddaughter saying, “I want to love someone that much.” And then there was that kiss on the beach, hot damn!
2. The way Finnick drinks water
You drink that water Finnick.
Guys, how perfect was Finnick? He was charming, seductive, and sly in the Capitol. In the arena he was a bit more sincere. My heart broke during the Mags and Annie scenes. Still, everything he did had a hint of sexuality to it. Well done, Sam Claflin, well done.
3. Peeta mans up
In the first movie and the books, Peeta is kind of wimpy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m Team Peeta all the way but he kind of rides Katniss’ coattails. In the first movie, there was that awful, goofy camouflage scene. This time Peeta carries his own weight (literally, since Finnick never carries him away from the fog but rather they all lean on each other like a team). He surprisingly kills a tribute during the chaos at the cornucopia and fights off monkeys and saves Katniss with a machete. And how adorable was that smirk after he drops the baby bomb. Get it done Peeta!
4. Oh, the costumes
I couldn’t have been more disappointed with the costumes from the first movie but boy, does Catching Fire make up for it. Katniss’ wedding dress-turned-mockingjay was absolutely perfect, Finnick’s District 4 get-up was mouth-watering (ladies, did you see his neck?!) and Effie’s costumes were wildly fantastic. It doesn’t hurt that the budget for the film expanded by more than $50 million. Still, hats off to Cinna for working his magic with the Girl on Fire. We couldn’t get enough of Jennifer Lawrence’s many, many wardrobe changes.
5. Effie’s apology
Throughout the film you see Haymitch, Peeta, Katniss, and Effie acting more like a team rather than a group thrown together by odds. When Effie decides they each need gold mockingjay tokens, your heart swells. The night before the games she delivers Peeta and Haymitch their tokens, a gold medallion and cuff respectively. She then sums up her disgrace in the games with a teary, heartfelt apology and farewell. She says that they both deserve better than to be thrust into the arena again, and as a citizen of the Capitol, Effie’s apology speaks volumes.
6. The announcement of the Quarter Quell
In the book, when it’s announced that the tributes will be selected from each district’s existing pool of victors, readers only experience Katniss’ reaction. In the film, we see all three react in ways that are very genuine for each character. Katniss, knowing she’s automatically in since she’s the only female, runs to and collapses in the snowy woods. Peeta gapes at the television in disbelief and sadness. Haymitch angrily throws is liquor at the television. All in all, perfect.
7. Johanna ‘Eff-ing’ Mason… Literally
Could Jena Malone be anymore perfect? She’s come a long way since Stepmom. We meet Johanna after the chariot rides as she barges onto the elevator with Peeta, Haymitch, and Katniss. Right after she enters she quickly begins stripping off her costume and noticeably flirting with Peeta right in front of Katniss and it is AMAZING. Her arrogance, her cheekiness, her wink towards Haymitch, all perfect. After that, it only gets better. During her interview, Caesar points out that she seems angry, not tearful she responds saying, “Well, yes. I’m angry. You know, I’m totally getting screwed over here. The deal was that if I win the Hunger Games, I get to live the rest of my life in peace. But now you want to kill me again. Well you know what? F*** THAT! AND F*** ANYONE THAT HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT!!” And that’s Johanna Mason, everybody. Brilliantly, the F-bombs were bleeped out since that’s what the Capitol would likely do during a broadcast. Also, Malone’s chemistry with JLaw only makes me more excited for Mockingjay.
8. The Victors Village (Its just the way we imagined it)
Throughout both movies, one of the things I couldn’t get over is how they nailed it with the way I envisioned the sets. Specifically, the Victors Village. Everything about the village says opulence, however, it had this dingy feeling of death about it, almost as if it served a reminder of how the victors had arrived. One of the scenes I was looking forward to the most was the confrontation between President Snow and Katniss in the library of the new victor’s home. I envisioned it to be very cold and stark with lots of dark wood, very “President Snow.” The room set up an ominous feeling for the very cold relationship that is to come between Katniss and President Snow.
9. Plutarch as the new Gamemaker
Does Philip Seymour Hoffman ever disappoint? We loved his portrayal of Plutarch Heavensbee, the new Gamemaker brought in to replace the late Seneca Crane. Hoffman was in a tough position since book-readers already know his role in the story. Yet he still played a convincing double agent. Posing as the top Games advisor, he carefully manipulated President Snow without giving even the slightest hint that he was in fact a conspirator for the rebellion. Hell, I even questioned his intentions for District 12’s survival when he bellowed “Change it up. Spin it!” and I read the book twice! Props to Hoffman for his dynamic performance, and his decision to dress Plutarch in a more subdued manner.
10. The Arena and it’s little horrors
This time around, you could say the ante was upped with the games and the chaos that came along with it. Poisonous fog, crazed monkeys, jabberjays, blood baths of rain, rotating cornucopias. I was a little nervous as to how they were going to go about some of these, specifically the poisonous fog, but the execution was perfect. I mean, who didn’t feel their skin bubble up when Katniss touched the fog and screamed in pain. I sure did.
11. Nuts and Volts
I’m currently watching Jeffrey Wright wreak havoc on Boardwalk Empire. When I realized he was Beetee, I was a little nervous. Would I be able to disassociate the heroine slinging Dr. Narcisse and believe he’s a tribute in the arena? The answer was… Narcisse who? Jeffrey Wright was sensational as the wiry and brilliant tribute from District 3. It didn’t matter to us that Wright didn’t 100% fit the bill for Beetee; he was witty and his timing was perfect. Volts was every bit the teacher and techie that Katniss describes in the books. Wiress, aka Nuts, the female tribute from District 3, was also a pleasant surprise. I was worried that her “tick-tock, tick-tock” warnings to the other tributes would be too campy when we met her in training and she seemed to be, well, with it. But, thankfully, Nuts went nuts in the arena and the end result was perfect.
12. That perfect ending, a look that says it all
Sadness…check. Anger…check. Despair…check. Determination…check. Loneliness…check. These are just some of the emotions that Jennifer Lawrence packed into her final close-up, when she learns the extent of the rebellion and her role as the Mockingjay. In the last minutes of the film, Katniss Everdeen learns that while her family is safe with her in District 13, the rest aren’t so lucky. As Gale so gently puts it, “There is no District 12.” While the scene was fantastic because it was a true adaptation from the book, Jennifer Lawrence took it to a whole new level when she delivered so many intense emotions in one look. We know that YA films are usually overlooked by the Academy, but they just might have to reconsider after seeing Lawrence’s passionate performance.