Friday, November 22, 2013

Catching Fire

Okay, so I got a free movie ticket for Catching Fire, a.k.a. that other Hunger Games book that's exactly like the first one, but everyone seems to love regardless... for some reason... but whatever.  I got this lovely free movie ticket in return for the movie review I wrote on it, which is posted below.

The Hunger Games is a book series that I do not particularly enjoy.  There are so many better stories, so many better worlds, characters, and most importantly, so many better WRITERS!!!  I felt that Catching Fire was simply a retelling of the first book, just with different characters. There was really nothing in it to distinguish it from its predecessor.  They are, basically, the exact same book.  When it comes to the movies, however, Catching Fire is a far better made movie than the first one.

After their historic double win of last year's Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta must keep up the charade that they are madly in love with each other, lest they become symbols of a rebellion that has been brewing for seventy-five years, and be killed along with everyone they know and love to stop it.  Every twenty-five years a special games are held, and this year, the tributes will be chosen from past winners of the games, placing the not so lovestruck couple back in the games for the second time in two years, but this time, they have allies.

The problems of the first movie were far too many to go into, so I'll bring up the most terrible of them.  First and foremost, the actors playing the leads clearly hate each other.  They don't have a single shred of chemistry, and often look either angry or disgusted that they even have to share scenes with one another, much less act like they're in love.  This, unfortunately, has not changed.  These two actors clearly do not want to even be in the same room with one another, seem to be reading their lines off of cue cards half the time, mumbling, and basically showing exactly zero emotion or interest in their roles throughout the entire movie.

Other problems included the lack of any sort of musical soundtrack, or even adequate ambient sound effects to make it feel as though we were actually in a forest with the characters.  The ridiculous and highly annoying overuse of shakeycam.  Horrible CG special effects.  And an overall cheap, low budget feel.  And not the good kind.

The second movie, thankfully, actually had background music and sound effects where appropriate.  it actually looks and feels like they are in a real jungle, rather than on a set in a sound stage.  The use of shakeycam was very limited, though it did rear its ugly head.  And the CG effects, for the most part, were both sparing in their use, and passably good when they were used.  The script, by no means a masterpiece, was far less confusing, tighter, and it actually used its visual medium to show, rather than tell.  And that was the biggest problem that the first movie had.  I have often said that it should either have been called Awkward Silence: The Movie, or Tell, Don't Show: The Movie.

All in all, it is a far better made movie than The Hunger Games.  I actually found this one tolerably enjoyable, though the story does drag terribly in the second act before the games begin.  I attribute this to the fact that neither Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) nor Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) could carry a show to save their lives.  The dynamic duo they are NOT.  They give such wooden and emotionless performances that they drag the entire film down to their boring and bland level.  The supporting cast is still excellent, with Woody Harrelson (Haymitch) still completely stealing every scene that he's in, and the new addition to the cast Sam Claflin (Finnick) is not far behind in likeability and charisma.  He, almost single-handedly, saves a third act that would, otherwise, have been more of the same bland, emotionless mumbling between Lawrence and Hutchensen.

Fans of the series will likely find this movie to be even better than the first, and even those who are not fans may find some enjoyment as well.  It was a well made movie, but falls short in the lead actors, and in the source material, which, for me, was always a little bland to begin with.  Three Stars.

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