Monday, October 13, 2014

Movie Review: The Hunger Games + Catching Fire

My Review (2 stars):
     It’s undeniable that The Hunger Games (2012) tells a fascinating, dystopian story. An all-powerful, almost maniacal government reigns over Panem, the country that once was America. The Hunger Games—pitting teens against each other as a TV show—is their way of punishing their subjects for an uprising some years ago. It's President Snow's way of keeping his country in line.
[Katniss at the Reaping]
     The story kind of puts me in the mind of ancient Rome and its arenas, gladiators, lions, and avid, bloodthirsty audience. So in that way, I can actually look at the story of The Hunger Games (2012) as a fascinating tale based on a possible occurrence. There’s no fairytale about it. Governments/rulers can often become corrupted the more power they gain. The human heart is very capable of carrying out all kinds of devious things when there’s things like power, fear, revenge, and riches involved.
     Yeah, so it was very interesting to me. However, I can’t say I would ever watch it again. It’s one thing to force people to fight; it’s another when these people are teens. And half of them have been trained to fight all their lives and actually look at it as a game, finding sick pleasure in it. Obviously, it could be a real scenario. The "good guys" in the movie are sickened and sorrowed by it. You know, all that. But it was just too much for me.
     Quite a bit of yucky stuff in this movie. Most violence isn't really graphic; but there's a lot of gross/creepy to make up for that. It's just not my thing. I will say however, that the movie is much better than the book, The Hunger Games. I listened to that as an audiobook, and had to mute it many times. *Gag* So many unneeded details. The filmmakers definitely did a better job being more delicate with the horrific violence (though still, I didn't like it). And they made Katniss's character more sensitive and humane than in the books. So that's a thumbs up for them anyway.
     There was some good things about this movie. The capital was disgusting but interesting. The TV host, Ceaser. Kind of funny; yet strange and unfeeling. The dresses made by Cinna for Katniss...amazing!
[Sparking red dress]
     I love Katniss's relationship with her younger sister, Primrose. How she volunteered for Prim's place in the Hunger Games... And yes, Peeta and Katniss, *sigh again*. Haymitch was an interesting guy. Definitely wounded by his time in the Games. And Rue, she was such a sweetie, *cries*
     Katniss Everdeen is an incredible character. She's a brave young woman, fighting to keep her family safe. She sneaks outside of Panem's electric fences and hunts for game to feed her widowed mother and little sister, Primrose. Her childhood friend, Gale Hawthorne, is often involved in these hunts. He's apparently in love with her. And while I like Gale...he's not for her.
[Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen]
     Peeta Mellark however... *Sigh* I love his story with Katniss. Throwing her the bread. Falling in love. He's just such a dear. A thoughtful, good man. He and Katniss's journey together is poignant. I have high hopes for them!!
[Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark]
     So yes. Again, The Hunger Games (2012) was an intriguing story for sure. Emotional and gripping. Sends my storytelling senses reeling. But the sickening violence... Teen against teen, some as young as thirteen... Hmmm. It could have been just a powerful, captivating story if they wouldn't have made it so...yucky! I don't know. Anyway, I just don’t care to make it my entertainment. I really wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
*Read the reviewer's thoughts for more in-depth on the violence of this movie:*
My Review (4 stars):
     The sequel however, Catching Fire (2013), blew my mind.
     Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have come out of the Hunger Games as victors—each having killed little, and certainly not in cold-blood. Now they are rich and want for nothing… except freedom. And love.
     And not to mention, the capital has its eye on Katniss because of her supposedly rebellious act right before the games ended. The act that enabled two people to win the Games, instead of just one.
     So we journey with Peeta and Katniss on their victory tour. We watch the capital become even more tyrannical. Watch rebellion start to stir. Watch Peeta struggle with his unreturned love. Then things take an unexpected turn and Peeta and Katniss once again land in the arena. But this time, they have allies. –Former victors who are not actually victors, but survivors who are scarred and realize just how evil their government is.
["There are not winners, only survivors"]
     The emotion! The depth of the feeling. I was just mesmerized. It was so real, so powerful. The actors and actresses did a superb job! Catching Fire (2013) showed that the victors (most of them) weren’t just revengeful, power-loving, prideful killers like the capital. Rather, they were broken by the Hunger Games, even though they had come out winners. They're angry. They were supposed to be protected as victors! They're afraid. How are they going to survive the emotional and mental trauma of another Game? They're determined. President Snow won't get away with this.
[Josh Hutcherson as Peeta; Elizabeth Banks as Effie; Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss]
[They're a team now]
         I say, it impacted and fascinated me.
     There wasn’t teens killing each other this time. It was older, broken victors. And a lot of them teamed up with Peeta and Katniss. Most of the killing in the arena this time came from the game-maker’s technology-made threats. So yes, I really felt like Catching Fire (2013) was a lot different than The Hunger Games (2012). It had a different feel; like not so sickening as the first movie. That being said, there still was a few yucky insinuation/violence. But I felt the filmmakers did a good job of cutting away from graphic violence and all.
     My complaints would be the love-triangle between Katniss and Gale and Peeta. She led the two guys on; you can see her struggling, like, which one did she love? They were both professing romantic love to her. And she kind of accepted it from both. Arg! But I think it was probably mostly because she wanted to feel hope, safety, security from them (as a spiritual side is non-existent in this movie).
     There was quite a bit of kissing too; and one inappropriate scene where nothing really is shown (well, a woman's bare shoulders and some of her back), but you get the gist.
     Also, there was swearing.
     Yeah, then some frightening scenes; some violence/gory/creepy as I mentioned above, but definitely not near as bad as the first movie!
     Another slight complaint would be with how a few scenes portrayed Peeta Mellark. They kind of gave him this weak look at times. Like yeah, he has muscle and courage, but he's kind of naïve. And Katniss has to protect him. *Look of distaste* But in the end, it wasn't that big of a deal. They both ended up helping, protecting, needing each other. They were a team. Peeta is naturally a more sensitive, sweet, conscientious guy. But he's still manly, tough, and brave. And such sacrifice! He volunteered for Haymitch so he could protect his beloved Katniss! And all when she "doesn't love" him! *Sighs teary-eyed*. Peeta is such a great young man.
[Peeta and Katniss] 
[*Smiles* I love this line!]
     I just adore how the love story is developing while in the Games. The fancy dresses are always fun too... Ah! Katniss's "wedding dress"!! So cool. So rebellious, *grins*.
[The wedding dress]
     I also really liked where all the so-called victors talk about being forced to go back into the Games. It's deep. Poignant. Breathtaking. I liked how Effie Trinket began changing in this movie. Her obsession with glam is starting to fade a bit. Her extravagant voice is gone as she announces the Quarter Quell. She has learned to love Katniss and Peeta, and is heartbroken over their fate...
[Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket]
     Finnick! He's so funny. Makes me laugh time and again. It's great watching his true side show underneath all those fake, protective coverings. I hope he gets his Annie back.
[Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair.]
     And Joanna, she fascinates me. A complex character; angry, broken, defiant.
 [Jena Malone as Joanna Mason]
["They can't hurt me. I'm not like the rest of you. There's no one left I love."]
     The (almost) ending was spell-binding. I just...have no words. So many incredible moments!
[Katniss Everdeen in the Quarter Quell Hunger Games]
     So really, Catching Fire (2013) is more violent and such than the movies I usually watch. But the emotion left me breathless. The story intrigued me (hey, I’m a storyteller, guys!). And it’s really the good vs. evil tale, just with a dystopian twist. Stand up the oppressed! Fight back against the evil controlling your land! This is a story of courage, acting in spite of incredible odds, fighting for those you love, sacrifice, and a crazy, amazing plot against a vain and wicked government. And it's a love story...

     I have to say, I’m excited to watch Mockingjay: Part I (2014).

[Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence]
*Read's review of Catching Fire (2013):*


  1. I really appreciate your honest reviews, both this one and others! I actually just saw a little bit of the Hunger Games on TV the other night and decided, yeah, that was a movie I really don't want to watch. I must say, you and other people have caught my interest with Catching Fire....but I don't think I could do it 'cause do know the general opinion on the book, Mockingjay, right?

    1. Good, I'm glad they were a help! :)

      Yeah... Catching Fire is just so... incredible (even though, yeah, I didn't really like the first movie!)

      About Mockingjay, yes I've heard that people wanted to throw it across the room when they finished it, that it had no hope, that they were mad at it... Yep. That makes me kind of nervous. You may just be the smartest one in all of this, Hannah! Lol.

      I've heard bad things about the end of the Divergent story too. Ugh. What's with the books these days? I like happy endings!

    2. Here's the reason. These dystopian stories (any story in general, actually), if they want at all to be realistic, are always going to drive themselves to a sad ending without God. This world is going to the dumps. Without God, there is no happy ending. And both Hunger Games and Divergent reflect that despair.

      HOWEVER. There are dystopian stories with God, and those are likely to have more hope, even amongst the despair. I'm not a big dystopian fan, but I have read one book (that's not out yet, but when it is, I shall be crowing to the world about it) that had a very different, but divine influence in it, and let me just say, WOW.

    3. Sad, but very true.

      Ooh, you have me intrigued!! I'll have to read this new dystopian! :)

      I've read a Christian dystopian with kind of a fantasy twist. It was quite interesting and I'm excited to keep reading!! Remnants, Season of Wonder by Lisa Tawn Bergren. Should have a good ending!! :)

  2. What a great review, Shantelle! Action-packed movies are oftentimes misunderstood, and are commonly judged as movies that suggest violence. On the other hand, there are lessons on that movie that should be given importance. The Hunger Games series talks about taking care of your family, being loyal to your nation and fighting for your beliefs. Mockingjay will be released in just a few weeks. I do hope you won’t miss it. Enjoy!

    Simon Walker @ The ViewLorium

    1. Thank you, Simon! I agree that The Hunger Games movies have a lot of poignant lessons and themes woven throughout.
      Thanks for commenting! And yes, I hope to see Mockingjay!! :)