**Spoiler Alert: If you have only read my Hunger Games or Catching Fire reviews, and not the actual books, you might not want to read the following review. Spoilers are included.
Contributed by Gina Danza
“Tick, tock.” Time is precious to Katniss Everdeen. At the start of the movie version of the bestselling book Catching Fire, we find her doing what she loves — hunting in the woods with her only true friend, Gale. But after The Hunger Games, she’s a totally different person. She is faking her love for Peeta Mellark, the male co-victor of the Hunger Games. She is hurting, but everyone in the post-apocalyptic country of Panem is too. Districts are still angry about what Katniss and Peeta’s rebellious move in the last games, and the Capitol knows it. President Snow decides he isn’t going to let the system crash because Katniss and Peeta almost ate a few poisonous berries, in an attempt at suicide that would defy the Capitol. With President Snow watching very closely, Katniss must quickly convince the country that she is unconditionally in love with Peeta and her stunt was not an act of rebellion. If she fails, she could get herself and her loved ones killed.
During their first stop on The Victory Tour, an incident happens that scares them to the bone. They need to come up with new ideas to make the public believe in their love. Peeta truly loves Katniss and just wishes for her to feel the same but she has other plans. Gale is everything to her and she doesn’t have room to love anyone at the moment. The 75th Hunger Games approaches and there’s a wrinkle in the system. As part of the Quarter Quell, Katniss and Peeta must return to the arena to fight other previous victors. Sick and angry, they rush back to the Capitol to meet their opponents, who are experienced killers. Two tributes stick out: Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) and Finnick Odior (Sam Claflin). Johanna is a feisty beast and Sam, the Capitol sweetheart.
The victors have been through this before and they must remember who the real enemy is. As they prepare for battle, the tributes want these games stopped, especially Johanna and Peeta. Sadly, the games go on as planned. Katniss arrives in the arena to find salt water, tropical conditions, and extreme humidity. “This is no place for a girl on fire.”
Already at the edge of your seat? Well, let me hit you with this. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was better than the book. Director Francis Lawrence turned this second installment into a beautiful, soaring monster — something that words on a page can’t do justice. It followed the book very closely, only leaving out a few chapters and scenes. The budget was doubled for graphics but the acting and writing is what stood out the most. Jennifer Lawrence turned into Katniss 2.0. Josh Hutcherson gave Peeta a strong, handsome vibe, which adds to the Peeta-Katniss storyline that is also catching fire. The elimination of the debated ‘shaky cam’ also opened us to a new look at Panem. The PG-13 rating was pushed by language, but the blood shown was toned down.
If you read the books, you will not be disappointed. If you didn’t read the books, you’ll still have the time of your life. Hold on tight, because the last 10 minutes are the best. In the end, you’ll want more but you’ll have to wait a year for Mocking Jay Part 1. So…KEEP CALM AND WAIT ON.