We went in extremely hopeful. We were disappointed with the original Hunger Games movie, although it was acceptable, but then Catching Fire actually had us slow-clapping when the credits rolled.
Our hope was that the presence of Philip Seymour Hoffman would keep the good ball rolling (we’re convinced that he somehow infused his essence into Catching Fire, thus perfecting it).
Overall, I’m happy to report that it did.
Critics have complained that there is too much exposition in this movie. I personally disagree. I LIKE exposition.
One of the things that frustrates me is when movies skip over extremely important plot points because they assume their audience will be too stupid to sit through two more minutes of dialogue.
Besides, it actually has a lot LESS exposition than the book. One of the best things about translating a first-person narrative into a movie is that they can show you things that you don’t get to see in the story because the main character didn’t see those things.
Mockingjay Part 1 actually SHOWS the effect of Katniss’s “propos” in the districts. There are multiple very-cool, very-exciting rebellion shots which you totally don’t get to see in the book, because Katniss is too busy moping in an underground bunker.
Critics have also complained that the movie just builds towards Part II, but I disagree there, as well.
The focus of the first movie is on Katniss’s concern for Peeta, and to me, getting Peeta back seems like the obvious goal and building-point.
Those of you who have read the book know how well THAT goes, and I think the movie ends on a great “what next?” note.
Overall, much of the dialogue is word-for-word, which I value. The sentiments of the movie are very well expressed. The desolation of District 12 is not understated.
They leave in stuff I thought they’d cut, like the Hanging Tree song (VERY NICE), and the white rose in Katniss’s house. They even left in Buttercup chasing the light in the bunker.
Other than removing some of the best Boggs lines, the only things that got cut were very specific – they cut everything that shows District 13 and/or President Coin in a negative light.
Which I thought was a little odd.
The prep team? Gone. Instead Effie Trinket is there, which I accept because the first movie basically eradicated the Prep Team when they should have left them in. So Effie is there instead as damage control. But she is treated very well – no complaints there.
The restrictive lifestyle, Coin’s coldness… all of that is cut.
It struck me as an interesting choice. Are they trying to build up our trust in 13 and Coin, only to tear it down? Or have they decided to wipe out that whole aspect of the storyline (surely they can’t??).
If the first option is correct, then they had better do it fast and well in Part II, that’s all I can say.
And with Philip Seymour Hoffman lost to us, I don’t know how much faith I have in their ability to do so…