To no one's surprise, I saw Catching Fire opening day. I think The Hunger Games movies are some of the best book-to-film adaptations I've ever seen, if not the best. The people behind the films actually kind of get the books. The acting is exceptional. It was so good between President Snow and Plutarch, that the scenes where they are sitting around talking are some of my favorites, even though there is no action or movement, nothing but talking.
First, I'll get some of my dislikes out of the way:
Sam Claflin as Finnick.
To his credit, he can act. I just don't think he can act Finnick. President Snow has built Finnick's celebrity status around his sex appeal, so Finnick is supposed to be very seductive with a long line of lovers.
Finnick is my favorite character is in the series, so, I was a bit sad, but it could have been worse. Haymitch is my second favorite character, which leads me to my second disappointment.
They cut Haymitch's backstory! Learning about Haymitch's own experience in the last quarter quell added depth to his character. I wasn't surprised they cut it, but I still missed it.
On to what I liked--wait, there are only two things I didn't like in a film adaptation? That's the shortest list ever!
They got my favorite line of the whole series in: when Peeta says Katniss is pregnant.
The acting was spot on. The characters aren't all how I picture in my head, but seriously, at least they can all act! Beetee? Perfect. Plutarch? Perfect. Ceasar Flickerman? Perfect as always. Everyone (but Sam.) Perfect.
I liked how we got to see the strengths of each of the main characters. Peeta with his words and stage presence, Gale with his leadership, Katniss with her survivalist skills. This movie made me love all of them and their actors even more.
On I side note, I love the character role dynamics in this story. Both Gale and Peeta would be better leaders for a rebellion. Gale wants that role. Peeta could play that role. But it's Katniss who doesn't want it and can't play it, who gets stuck in it. It's a fresh dynamic from the usual rebellion story where a character like Gale leads.
The arena was great. They really pulled off the jabberjays--I wasn't sure how that part would turn out on screen.
A few small things I loved: Katniss's, Peeta's, and Haymitch's reaction to Johanna undressing in the elevator. Better than I imagined.
I really wanted Katniss to draw Seneca's beard on the dummy. And she did.
I usually don't like swearing, but when Johanna swore during her interview with Ceaser--it just fit her character and situation so perfectly, I had to smile. Anyway, it was bleeped out because it is a "television show."
I also like how this movie wasn't as violent and gory as the last one. It had more psychological hardships than physical ones.
The victory tour was great too. I loved when Peeta didn't use his speech cards and Katniss had to say something to the families of Thresh and Rue. The acting was exceptional even with the extras in the districts. You could tell they didn't believe in Katniss and Peeta's love story. I also loved how you could feel how Katniss and Peeta were cold to each other off screen and faking it in front of the cameras.
And Thread. The new peacekeeper. That whole scene in district 12 was strong. Actually, The Hunger Games movies have a way of making me feel like I'm actually there--more than any other film. I get uncomfortable in all the right places. I can feel the nightmare of living in this wicked society.
When it comes to worldly truths, especially about entertainment and media and politics, The Hunger Games is one of my favorite stories.