Catching Fire is as hot as fire

Catching Fire, the second book in The Hunger Games series, hit theaters on November 22. The first movie of the series captured much attention, but some audience members felt dissatisfied with the length and storyline of the film. When those audience members returned to watch the sequel, they were pleasantly surprised that the film followed the book.

Warning: Spoiler alert.

In most cases, movies based off of books do not meet the high expectations readers set for them. However, with Catching Fire, the film meets, if not exceeds, readers’ expectations. The movie discusses the lives of the victors of the previous Hunger Games and its effects on Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Although they have returned to District 12, their lives have changed drastically. They now both live in the Victor’s Village with Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), their mentor and only other victor from the district. Katniss now has enough money to buy food instead of hunting, something she would do almost on a daily basis. She does go hunting sometimes, but she finds it difficult to restore her relationship with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), her old friend, especially since he is working in the mines. Katniss also has trouble keeping her relationships steady with both Peeta and Gale, who seem to be competing for her affection. Peeta becomes angry after learning about Katniss faking her love for him during the Games, and Gale is angry because he thinks the love was real. On top of all of this, Katniss prepares for the Victory Tour, where she and Peeta travel with Haymitch and Effie (Elizabeth Banks), to the different districts to celebrate their victories in the Games.

The day of the tour, Katniss returns home from the woods to get prepared. Upon her return, she receives a surprise visit from President Snow (Donald Sutherland), who threatens her life and family’s lives if she continues to implement the idea of a revolution.

Unfortunately, things do not start off smoothly at the first stop on the Victory Tour in District 11. Peeta and Katniss are still not on the best of terms, and this turns into an emotional trip for Katniss because her ally in the Games (Rue) was from District 11. The scene at hand is not very welcoming with armed Peacekeepers surrounding the area. Katniss and Peeta are given speeches, but decide to make their own regarding the fallen tributes of District 11 and how they and the Games have changed them. Suddenly, an old man in the audience kisses three fingers and puts them up to the sky, a sign of peace. The other people in the crowd follow, thus causing the Peacekeepers to break out their weapons and attack the old man. This leaves Katniss distraught and screaming, forced to be held back by Peacekeepers.

After that traumatic stop, Katniss and Peeta stick to the cards. But, this does not stop the tension. The crowds want to know the victors’ true thoughts and feelings on the Capitol. People in the districts want more fuel to be added to the fire of revolution, but Katniss knows she must keep things under control for President Snow.

At the Capitol, the last stop of the tour, President Snow gives Katniss a look of failure in her mission. Later, Snow plans with Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the next Head Gamemaker, the next Hunger Games. Plutarch suggests sending more strict forces into District 12 during the time that Katniss will be getting ready for her wedding with Peeta (announced during the Victory Tour as an attempt to distract the people), to make the citizens of Panem turn on her. Yet, this does not work, and Katniss is in the spotlight again when she interrupts a whipping for Gale, and ends up getting a lash herself.

President Snow knows that he must get rid of Katniss. Eventually, he and Plutarch arrange the 75th Hunger Games and call upon two victors from each district, one male, one female. Since Katniss is the only girl victor from 12, she is forced to return to the arena. This time, she makes a deal with Haymitch to bring Peeta back alive. When it comes time for the reaping and Katniss and Peeta are chosen, District 12 does the three-finger salute. Once again, Peacekeepers take control, forcing Katniss and Peeta onto the train without saying good-bye to their families.

Since it is the Quarter Quell, the Capitol has constructed a new training center and an even deadlier arena. Katniss and Peeta know that they are at a disadvantage because they are the newest victors, so Haymitch advises them to make new friends. They meet a flirty, muscular Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) from District 4 and his partner, an old woman named Mags (Lynn Cohen). In addition, the pair sees hot-tempered Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) from District 7, who is outraged on her return to the Games. Beetee and Wiress (Jeffery Wright and Amanda Plummer) are the queer, yet intelligent victors from District 3. At her interview with Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), Katniss stuns in her supposed wedding dress. The dress, when spun, turns into a Mockingjay, a symbol for revolution. The audience praises Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), her stylist, for his creativity, but Snow is not impressed and plans to have him taken care of.

At last, it is the day of the Games. Katniss says good-bye to her prep team, unaware what will become of them later. When the horn blows off in the arena, Katniss finds herself teaming up with Finnick, Mags and Peeta. The first day in the forest is deadly; there is a shortage of water until late, and the victors are captured in a poisonous gas and a fight with blood-thirsty monkeys. As the number of tributes winds down, Katniss soon starts to fear the reality of killing her allies. Later, they meet up with Johanna, Wiress, and Beetee, and devise a plan to kill the remaining tributes. Beetee plans to attach a man-made wire to the lightning tree to the wet sand on the beach, and once the opposing tributes arrive on the beach, they will be electrocuted. All goes according to plan, until Katniss begins to frantically search for Peeta and gets electrocuted herself.

One of the main reasons why this movie is considered better than the first was the new director, Francis Lawrence. Lawrence was able to squeeze a 400 page novel into a 2 and a half hour movie without excluding significant plot twists. In addition, the actors’ performances were excellent. Jena Malone even cut her hair and didn’t speak to anyone when trying out for her part in order to seem more like Johanna. Jennifer Lawrence’s crying scenes brought the audience to tears, and Sam Claflin’s smooth talking made everyone swoon. The visual effects of the movie were outstanding, especially the forest and beach scenes. The monkeys looked extremely realistic, and the way that they were introduced with loud screeching made it seem like they were present in the theater. The makeup department did an amazing job with the effects of the poisonous gas had on the characters. Though gruesome, the large, white welts of poison measured the severity of the gas.

Catching Fire is an adventurous entertaining movie that all audiences can enjoy, even if the viewer has not read the book.