I… have NO COMPLAINTS.
The first Hunger Games movie really disappointed me, and the irony of the advertising has horrified me.
But… Catching Fire is wonderful.
They hit all the right notes.
I mean, sure, they cut out a lot of stuff, but after all, the movie is very long as-is. They can never put an entire book into a two hour movie. And I accept the cuts they made. I understand why they changed the things they changed, and I am okay with it.
Because they left all the right things in.
Little things – like Finnick’s sugar, Johanna Mason stripping in the elevator, Chaff’s kiss, great Peeta/Katniss exchanges, fantastic Haymitch/Effie moments. The old man in District 11. Caesar Flickerman’s face when Peeta proposes – oh, that made us laugh out loud!
The actual time in the arena happens on a much shorter timeline, but pretty much the entirety of it is there, just condensed. Even Katniss armed with one syringe against the capital. It’s all there, and it’s right.
The characters are SO much better done in this movie. Effie’s inherent EFFIENESS is made very clear, and she provides some great laughable moments. Caesar Flickerman is more schmoozy, mugging the camera, more on par with who I see in my head when I read.
Instead of mute pawns moving through a strangely silent world, the characters are full of life and the plot feels vibrant and immediate. Peeta’s motivations are a little more clear, and so are Katniss’s, although they still utterly fail at heating up a room with their lukewarm romance.
Haymitch is more of a lovable abrasive drunk than a strangely charming hero. Effie is more ridiculous.
PH and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire movie, welcoming each scene in bewildered delight.
…and we figure it’s because of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Because he is only in good movies. I don’t always LIKE them. Master was weird and Doubt was depressing, and Capote is just disturbing…. but the movies are always GOOD.
Philip Seymour Hoffman must have just infused his native brilliance into every scene.
I mean, yeah, sure, I could credit Francis Lawrence, the director, for the loss of annoying bouncy-cam and the infusion of actual personalities into the acting… but the previous director, Gary Ross, wrote/directed several other films that I like a lot, like Pleasantville, Big, and Dave.
I can’t begin to understand why someone who has produced such sweet and occasionally moving movies was completely unable to replicate the sweetness of Peeta, or put any heart into the film. Maybe he was trying too hard not to be himself, I don’t know.
Maybe the new writers just “got” the series more. Maybe Francis Lawrence, who did I Am Legend and Constantine, just got the genre better.
Or maybe it is because of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
All I know is… it is FANTASTIC.
PH and I will own Catching Fire… but not The Hunger Games.
…Who knows, with the same writers and director, maybe they can even get me to enjoy Mockingjay.
And THAT will be a feat.