Free of major spoilers, regardless of whether you've read the books.
- This movie wasted no time at all setting up the fact that Katniss has post-traumatic stress disorder. (Who doesn't, in this series?) It couldn't have been more than three to five minutes into the film, and Katniss was already having flashbacks. This element was revisited relatively often throughout the two and a half hours of the movie. I appreciate this so much. These movies could have easily focused on the glamour of the games, the romance, the heroic ideals of the rebellion--while these things are not forgotten, they never overshadow the darker, grittier aspects of the story.
- They also wasted no time setting up...you guessed it...the love triangle. This is pretty much my biggest problem with this movie. If you haven't read the books and saw this movie, it would seem like Katniss, who just got done kind-of-faking a relationship with Peeta, is now randomly kissing Gale. If I hadn't read the book, my guess is that this would have come out of nowhere.
- Sam Claflin+Finnick=AWESOME. It would've been so easy to turn Finnick into nothing more than the attractive guy who likes to crack jokes, with an obligatory shirtless scene or two. It would've been easy to ignore his depth, his own trauma, but that wasn't the case. If anything, Sam Claflin made Finnick's pained, strong, and vulnerable side even more prevalent than his I'm-pretty-and-also-witty-what-more-do-you-want side. His relationship with Mags was adorable and heartbreaking.
- Jena Malone as Johanna Mason was also awesome. She brought just the right mix of attitude and anger to make the character come to life. Again, this would've been an easy character to miscast, but Jena Malone took it and ran with it, so to speak.
- While I'm still talking about actors/actresses: Jennifer Lawrence just keeps getting more awesome. I saw her in The Hunger Games, and I thought, "Wow, she's good."
Because I obviously know so much about acting.Then I saw/read some of her interviews, and the more I read about her, the more respectable (not to mention utterly hilarious in her unfiltered way) I found her. Her performance in Catching Fire was fantastic. She did not shy away from Katniss' overpowering emotions. She held nothing back, managing to capture all the pain and fear necessary for the character, being totally at odds with her usually quirky self.
- The costume design has already been nominated for various awards, and I can see why. It's like they hired a real-life Cinna to put all these designs together. Katniss' "wedding" dress was gorgeous. It managed to capture a bit of the eccentricity of Capitol fashion, while still being pretty. And it could light itself on fire.
- Effie. While she was still flighty and annoying, she had some moments where I respected her in a way I've never been able to before. Despite her faults, she truly cares about Katniss and Peeta, and wants to help them. In many ways, she's just as trapped as everyone else.
- Haymitch has always been one of my favorite characters, and in this regard, Catching Fire didn't let him down. I felt he was stronger in this movie than it the first one, so I'm eager to see how the character develops in Mockingjay.
Katniss, your Jennifer is showing.*
- Do you remember that scene from The Hunger Games, where Seneca Crane hit a button, and then BAM! the muttations came out of nowhere and gave everyone in the theater a heart attack? Did you think you could get through Catching Fire without an equally startling scene, especially now that the cameras aren't shaking like they're in an earthquake? Well, you're wrong. CUE RABID BABOONS, STAGE LEFT.
- I don't think some aspects will make sense to people who haven't read the books. I understood the complex plot between some of the tributes that was put into action at the end (I think I'm trying too hard to avoid spoilers), but it wasn't explained very clearly, and I'm wondering if that would confuse non-readers.
- The whole rebellion, all across the districts in general, was done well. It didn't get too info-dumpy, but it wasn't ignored, either. It appeared just often enough to keep it in the back of your head. And it wasn't glorified, simplified, or toned down, either. It was shown in all its harsh reality. Some of it wasn't fun to watch, but without it, the point of the movie would have been lost.
- My feelings. Just...ouch. So many things are just so sad. I don't know a better way to put that. My friend remarked that she spent the entire movie with a pit-like feeling in her stomach, and I understand what she's talking about. Seeing Rue's family...Mags...the news that came to Katniss at the very end... If you're emotionally connected to this movie, then it deals blow after blow after blow to your feelings. As it should be. If it hurts, you've made that connection, and once you've made that connection, you've experienced something special, that is worth it. Remember when Gotye said, "You can be addicted to a certain kind of sadness", and we all said, "Um, what?" I doubt that song was talking about attachment to fictional characters, but still. If you're the type to be attached to fictional characters, you'll get these feelings every so often (or more, depending on what you read/watch
Red Wedding anyone?). But yet we keep returning to fiction, because it's worth it.
- I was so happy to hear Coldplay's song 'Atlas' as soon as the credits began. I loved this song from the day it was released, and I'm glad they used it. It fits well with the movie, though I've been thinking lately that it fits more with The Hobbit than Catching Fire. Either way, it's awesome. The lyric video is gorgeous, as well.
- The irony of the entire franchise's success still unsettles me. I won't go into that now, as I already wrote about it here.
- Mockingjay is going to hurt. I'm just going to throw that out there. People who haven't read the books will have no idea what hit them.
Overall, I'm pleased with Catching Fire. I had a few issues, but I feel that this is one case where the sequel surpassed the prequel. I'm glad of that, and I can't wait for the first part of Mockingjay. Though I'm slightly dreading it at the same time.
Did you see Catching Fire? What did you like/dislike about it? Do you think the fandom will implode when Mockingjay comes out?