Hunger Games: Catching Fire Event and Review

The Hunger Games catching fire poster 2

**********Warning the following article may contain spoilers. You have been Warned!*******************

Summary:

It is now a few months after the 74th Hunger Games and Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are back in District 12 living in Victor’s Village and trying to get on with their lives. Needless to say that is not going to happen first off the Victory Tour is about to kick off taking our two lovebird winners through all the districts and back to the capital. But there is the issue that the districts are using Katniss’s beating the Capital during the Hunger Games as a torch for rebellion and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) doesn’t want to have any of that, threatens   Katniss that if she does not convince the districts to toe the line that anyone and everyone she knows or cares about will be executed. And than we have the Third Quarter Quell aka the 75th Hunger Games which surprises everyone including all the Victors.

 

Red Carpet:

First, I have to say, I was very lucky to get passes to this one; on Monday morning, I had passes for another movie and was even planning on missing that one due to lack of sleep and other things. Then I get an email, notifying me that passes for Hunger Games: Catching Fire are up for grabs, and of course, I had to go for them. But even then, I was still on the fence about going for two reasons: one, I was still tired, and two, the screening didn’t start until 9:30 pm. Well, let me rephrase that; the live streaming of the red carpet in Hollywood started at 9:30 pm and lasted until 10:30 when the movie actually started. But, a good friend of mine really wanted to go, so I bit the bullet and did everything in my power to make it to the screening. And boy, am I glad that I did.

This has to be one of the biggest screening events I have gone to. The line just seemed to keep on going, and there was only one theater so there were going to be a lot of unhappy people who didn’t get in after waiting for so long. There were TV cameras out in force as well. I did not talk or get interviewed, but I am sure there are some shots where I am in the background, though. Subway was there because they were a big sponsor for the event, and they were handing out free gift cards, and I was lucky enough to score one.

They started letting us in around 8:30, and I have to say that they were, for the most part, one well-organized group running this thing. They started by allowing those in groups go through, and your first stop was the red carpet; just like they have at all the premiers with the ropes, the carpet, and the backdrop—I have to say it was pretty fun. Then, onto our next stop: another photo-op.  For this one, we stood in front of a green screen, where they will put up the backdrop, I entered my email address, and they will send me a copy of our photo (which I will post in this review at the bottom). Then, it was time for security, and they were not messing around; they bagged and tagged your phone, and then wanded you to make sure you had no electronics on your person (I really need to invest in a wristwatch). After that, we made our way into the movie theater but not before we were stopped and bunched into our groups. Once we had about five to ten people, we were escorted in to the theater and shown where to sit. There was no picking your seat or having a buffer between you and the next person—you were told where to sit, and that was that. Now, remember how I told you there was a line out the door trying to get into the theater? Well, once I got into the theater, I really knew all of those people would not get into this movie. They had the three very front row seats open for general public; then, at the start of the stadium seating, you had at least four, maybe five, rows of seating reserved for the press; and after the press, came the subway reserved seating for those lucky enough to win the contest that Subway had going on; and then you had three rows of seating for more general public seating. So, all-in-all, there were about six rows of seating to accommodate the hundreds that were waiting outside.

At that point, we are just sitting in our seats waiting for 9:30 to roll around. They kept showing the same trailers and trivia on the big screen, and they already had the audio connection up and running for the Hollywood red carpet so we could sometimes hear them but not see them. This was the time people went and got their food or hit the head one last time before the movie began.

At 9:30, the lights went down and the screen lit up as the Yahoo Movies Red Carpet Event started. To be honest, I could have skipped this part. Some people might love watching the actors show up and stop for fifty million photos and then spend seconds with the fans that have been camping days just to see them. I mean it; Jennifer Lawrence took time to sign peoples stuff, but she practically scribbled her name and you probably couldn’t even tell who signed it after she was done. Not knocking her; I know they have handlers and schedules to keep, and there are tons of people trying to get her attention. Then, the three hosts for Yahoo (I do not know where they got them or what their qualifications were, but boy do they need to go back to school) came onto the screen. The one guy on the team that seemed to be the main interviewer did not seem to be prepared with questions or background information on his guests. He also would ask a question and the move the microphone away from the actor while they were halfway through answering. The girl who was handling the social media part of the show was trying way too hard and came across as fake the whole time. She couldn’t even read the tweets correctly. The last girl (who was supposed to be their fashion expert) came across as only knowing fashion from what she read in a magazine. Though she did seem more genuine than the other two, she barely had screen time, and when they did cut to her, she didn’t have anyone with her which seemed to put her on the spot and leave her coming up with talking points.

And then they were finally finished and the movie was about to begin…

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From left to right:
Christine, Shep, and Mark

The Movie:

Now onto what you guys really want to read about, right?

The movie opens up some months after the 74th Hunger Games, and we are back in District 12; Katniss is out hunting again, or so we think. It seems she has a bad case of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is seeing all of the people she killed during the game. And, really, who wouldn’t be suffering after being put through what those kids have to endure? It is the reason that we always see Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) with a drink in hand or passed out.  But luckily—or, maybe, unluckily—Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is there to comfort her. This is a problem since the whole world saw how much Katniss and Peeta love each other and are expecting them to be together forever. Further, poor Peeta is still head over heels in love with her, and Katniss just doesn’t seem to get it. And, of course, President Snow is watching everything as it goes down. It seems that the monitoring doesn’t end once you are out of the Hunger Games—it goes on for life—and Katniss is coming to realize that just because the Games are done does not mean she is out of the spotlight.

The Victory Tour is just beginning, and President Snow stops in before the start of the tour to pretty much lay down the law of the land for Katniss. Some of the districts are viewing the victors of the last Hunger Games as inspiration and rebelling against the current oppressive government. Again, all to the displeasure of President Snow. He makes it clear to Katniss that she will keep up the appearance of being in love with Peeta and she will get the districts to fall back in line. If she doesn’t, those she cares about will be executed. During the tour, we are given to some bleak scenes; District 12 wasn’t all colorful and rosey, but it seems some of the other districts have it worse and are tried of being under the control of President Snow. It has gotten so bad that even showing support by doing the three finger salute (that we saw in the first movie) is now a Capitol Offense, and the violator is executed on the spot.  This puts Katniss under a lot of pressure because she knows that President Snow is watching, and if he is not satisfied with their progress, he will carry out his promise. We wrap up the Victory Tour at the Capitol where the President is throwing a lavish party to receive the two Victors.

But things are still not kosher in the districts; no one seems to have bought the Katniss and Peeta “toeing the party line” speeches they gave, and rebellion is still running rampant throughout. President Snow doesn’t execute anyone in Katniss’s family, but he begins working with Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the new head of the Hunger Games. He starts putting things in motion, setting up for the 75th Hunger Games or the Third Quarter Quell.

Now, I never really picked up on this in the book, but my friend kind of brought it up. I always just assumed (yes I know that is wrong of me) that the Quarter Quells were already decided and locked away, but Christine (the friend that went with me last night) kind of hinted (and so does the movie) that President Snow and Plutarch arranged for the Victors to be the next players in the Hunger Games. I just never read that deeply into it, so maybe that is true. Let me know in the comments below. So, yes, the twist for this years’ Hunger Games is that those chosen will be selected from the pool of current victors of the previous games. Meaning for District 12’s female side, Katniss will be going in once again.

After that, things seem to happen quickly, and all of our Victors are brought to the Capitol which is going bigger for this Third Quarter Quell. However, things are not sitting right with those chosen to participate. In fact, a lot of them are dissatisfied with having to once again go into the wild to fight to survive; they already did it once and survived, and they thought it was over and done with, but that isn’t so. Throughout the warm ups, the Victors toe the line and make sure they are up to snuff for when the Games begin. They are also fighting a public opinion war as well, trying to make President Snow see that this is a bad idea; the people love the Victors, have grown up with them, seen them at parties, etc., and now they are going to lose 23 of them because they are going back into the Hunger Games! And let me tell you, the Victors do not hold back when they are trying to sway the public. Alas, it is not to be so; President Snow is determined to show the world that Katniss is a party member and will do whatever it takes to survive.

Now we get into the Game itself, and it has changed. It seems like the designers were no longer satisfied with letting the players go after each other because now the whole area is set against the players as well. It also seems they are not given nearly as much room as we saw in the last movie. They want everyone to stay in a nice, confined space to better manipulate the players and/or kill them out right. As to be expected, once the cannon goes off, there is much confusion and, of course, many deaths. This time, however, Katniss and Peeta are not alone; Haymitch has set up an alliance for them with Finnick (Sam Odair) and Mags (Lynn Cohen). When I say the area is out to get them, I mean it: the area is out to get them. The designers have broken the area into sections, and at certain times of the day, a certain section will become active.  For example, lightning strikes will happen for one hour and then just stop. So, now the players have to worry about the other players finding and killing them in addition to paying attention to what area they are in and what time it is. Without giving too much away for those that have not read the book, it seems like some of the players are playing the game not to win, but to protect certain people instead. This ultimately leads to the climax in the lightning zone, some wiring, and Katniss trying to figure out just who she can really trust. In the end, though, things happen that she could never have predicted, and she finds herself in the middle of a rebellion…

My Recommendation:

I took my good friend Christine to see this movie because she loves this series, and she loved this movie. She couldn’t stop talking about it, and I have to agree with her. This movie really is that good. I am sure some of you will disagree or complain about some of the changes they made from the book, but I have to say there weren’t nearly as many changes as we saw in the first movie (or say like in the other movie that is out right now that is based on a book that didn’t do a good job of translation…Ender’s Game). We were lucky enough to see it on an IMAX screen, and I just have to say if you get the chance do it as well, you will not be disappointed in paying the extra money for the larger screen.

Movie Info:

Release Date: November 22, 2013

Director: Francis Lawrence

Writers: Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt (screenplay), Suzanne Collins (novel)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Woody Harrelson, Alan Ritchson, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland

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