Tag Archives: Catching Fire

Movie vs. Book: Mockingjay (Part 1)

**Spoiler Alert: Because of the popularity of both this book and movie, this review does include spoilers. 

Mockingjay picks up shortly after where Catching Fire left off. We see Katniss shaking, crying, having a nightmare as she so often does now in her post-Hunger Games world. She’s suffering from PTSD as she tries to make sense of what happened in the Quarter Quell and as she wonders if Peeta is even alive.

She has so many questions, but without receiving answers, she is quickly thrust once again into the spotlight as Plutarch Heavensbee and President Coin, the president of District 13, choose her as the symbol of the rebellion, the Mockingjay. With most of the districts in disarray or completely destroyed after the rebellious move Katniss makes in the Quarter Quell, President Coin and Plutarch work hard to take the lead in the rebellion and join forces with the other districts to take down the Capitol. That means having Katniss star in several propaganda videos to air across Panem. The videos come in response to the Capitol’s propaganda videos, starring a brainwashed, angry Peeta, who has lost the support of the rebels.

Katniss agrees to help under certain conditions — that Peeta and the other tributes will be saved and pardoned once they are freed from the Capitol. Despite her concerns, President Coin agrees, and Katniss and a video crew shoot several videos that air across the country. eventually leading to the rebels gaining enough control that they’re able to free Peeta from the Capitol. But when Peeta returns, he is not the same. He is brainwashed and enraged by Katniss, causing him to try to kill her.

The book and movie are mostly the same, but there are a few slight changes. For instance, in the book, Katniss agrees to be the face of the rebellion only if Peeta and the other tributes are freed and pardoned, and if she can be the person to kill President Snow. But in the movie, the demand to kill President Snow is cut. It’s not a huge change. But in the book, President Coin responds by saying “I’ll flip you for it.” The demand and the accompanying dialogue serve to display the extent of Katniss’s anger toward Snow and that she and Coin have now connected.

Other changes include minor ones about District 13 — the details of the district’s daily schedules have been cut. So has the insight into District 13’s treatment of Katniss’s prep team. Again, not a huge loss, but it certainly eliminates some of the most important foreshadowing about District 13 and the people who are in charge.

Whereas Mockingjay, the novel, has an ending, Mockingjay Part 1 does not. Yes, that’s obvious, but the movie ending with the freeing of Peeta only serves as further build to the next movie — and because of that, the movie doesn’t have its own plot. It’s more of a series of scenes and happenstances with not much more than build and foreshadowing. The movie isn’t bad. In fact, it’s pretty dead-on and fantastic. But when your movie tells the story of half a book, it’s going to feel like half a movie.

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Movie vs. Book: Catching Fire

**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.

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Is Suzanne Collins’ Writing Style the Future?

Suzanne Collins has captivated readers all over the world with The Hunger Games trilogy. But was it the content of the books or her writing style that made the books so monumental?

According to this Huffington Post blog post, blogger Jeff Goins suggested that Collins’ writing style is the successful writing style of the future: short and concise, but also edgy. But blogger Lev Raphael argues that if this style is the future of writing, it will only bring on a rush of bestseller copycats.

What he’s arguing for, whether he knows it or not, is myriad knock-offs of The Hunger Games, books written to what might seem like a formula, or has been turned into one.

The result would be a raft of terrible books, as well as disappointed authors who think, “My books is just as good as The Hunger Games, why can’t I sell it?” or “Why isn’t anyone buying my book?” Hell, that’s probably going to happen anyway, without his encouragement.

I agree with Raphael to some extent; of course, bestseller copycats would be produced. And of course, they won’t all be  as good as the original bestsellers.

However, as a person who reads both modern and classic books, I agree that the books of yesteryear are much more difficult to read. The modern ones — like The Hunger Games — are made for those with shorter attention spans who have less time to analyze, and I think it’s safe to say that is almost everyone these days. There’s something to be said for a concise writing style, even though it may not be so eloquent. What do you think? Is Collins’ style the future? Or will writing with flowery language continue to thrive?

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How The Hunger Games Film Set Up a Big Problem for Catching Fire

Contributed by Alex Rabinowitz

Two guards walk Seneca Crane to an ornately decorated Capitol room. In the center of the room is a decadent, goblet-like bowl. The guards close the door as they leave and Seneca begins to realize his fate. He walks towards the bowl and the camera reveals it to be filled with Nightlock. The rest is implied.

Of all the beautifully handled scenes in The Hunger Games film, this had to be one of the best. It’s one that does so much with so little, at once moving plot forward while informing us on the irony-loving cruelty of President Snow and the Capitol. All that and it’s not even in the book. Katniss, who serves as the first person narrator on paper, tells the reader that Snow surely executed the incompetent Gamemaker, but showing exactly how is something she’d never be able to do.

And therein lies the problem that Gary Ross and company have set themselves up for in Catching Fire. So much of Suzanne Collins’ twisty second book relies on what Katniss doesn’t know. [BOOK 2/3 SPOILERS AHEAD] Readers who have finished the series are aware that by the time the first book ends a rebellion is in motion. Much of its inner-workings happen then outside of Katniss’ grasp before and during the second book. She gets hints of it from Plutarch and scenes on television, but never really puts it all together. Katniss goes into the Quarter Quell with a limited set of information and is largely surprised at the end by a dynamic rebellion-led rescue. The reader is therefore also somewhat surprised and even confused along with her.

Ross and Collins made a very bold choice to fill in the viewer beyond Katniss’s knowledge in the movie version of The Hunger Games. The riot in District 11, private conversations between Snow and Crane, the Gamemaker’s control room, all enhanced the story immensely and made it a better film. There’s no reason this enhancement shouldn’t continue through the series, after all there’s only so much Katniss can tell us. Unfortunately, Catching Fire relies heavily on what Katniss doesn’t know. Is the ending going to be as effective if we already know there’s a revolution brewing and some of our main characters are in on it?

What results is a conundrum of sorts. Frequent Danny Boyle collaborator Simon Beaufoy is penning the adaptation of Collins’ second book and he has a choice. He can either stick with the precedent Ross has set and expand the point of view, or he can buck the trend and bring it back to the first person. Limiting the perspective may end up feeling inconsistent in the overall scheme of things; it could also jeopardize the extra awesomeness the creators can bring that Collins didn’t put in her book. Fans who cried foul at the significant changes made by Ross and company in the first film may lean towards the latter but it could confuse and upset the greater audience.

Thankfully, Beaufoy is a proven talent and will likely figure it out. He had this to say about adapting the book recently, “With this one I had to be a lot more faithful, also because there’s a fan base who are more than usually keen that you get it absolutely right. ‘The Hunger Games’ fan base are passionate beyond anything I’ve ever come across and I’d fear for my life if I get that adaptation

. If I do too free an adaptation than I shall get firebombed. So I’m being really careful about that.” (Crave Online) Sounds good for die-hard fans, just glad that I’m not the one having to adapt the sequel to The Hunger Games.

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Movie vs. Book: The Hunger Games

Contributed by Sam Smink

At one time there was an uprising in the post-apocalyptic country of Panem, and one of 13 districts was wiped away against the force of the Capitol. To remind the districts of the cost of an uprising, 24 “tributes” are annually shoved into an arena of deadly surprises until only one comes out alive in the Hunger Games.

The film version of The Hunger Games does a great job at establishing the relationship between its heroine, Katniss, and her younger sister, Prim. We witness the first difference from the novel early on. In the movie, Katniss gives Prim the Mockingjay pin to protect her. In the book, the mayor’s daughter, Madge, gives Katniss the pin. But a Madge-less movie makes little difference, especially since it allows us to witness the closeness of Katniss and Prim, further developing their relationship.

Another difference in the movie is that there’s very little setup regarding the District 12 “strategy” that Haymitch develops — a love story between its two tributes, Katniss and Peeta. I wish the film had done more to set up the fact that this was Haymitch and Peeta’s plan from the beginning, particularly since the strategy is what causes Katniss and Peeta to fight at the end of the novel. Therein lies another difference. The movie needed to delve more into Peeta’s anger at the end when he realizes the “love” was all a ruse on Katniss’s part.

There also wasn’t enough background established with the Katniss, Peeta, Gale love triangle. Many of us have been asking ourselves Team Peeta or Team Gale but here, I felt no personal connection to either.  In actuality, Peeta’s love is true, selfless and heroic. Here it just seems like any other crush for those who haven’t read the books. They also needed to establish more of a friendship between Gale and Katniss.

As far as the Hunger Games themselves, I sat on the edge of my seat, holding my breath throughout the entire games, despite knowing the outcome from the books. Brilliant film making. The style of the games was shot realistically, so you felt like you were there yourself. Not to mention, the Hunger Games is like a reality show, so the shaky one-camera style fit perfectly. They also did a nice job of showing the violence without overexposing it. The PG-13 rating certainly didn’t diminish the quality. You saw people die; you just didn’t see it thrown in your face.

We learn after the Games that Katniss has put herself in a very dangerous position because her actions throughout the games are seen as rebellious — the start of a revolution. But the film shows us the revolution starts even earlier. After the death of Rue, the movie reveals that District 11 starts an uprising against the Capitol. This is a piece of information that, in the books, is not revealed until Catching Fire. The choice to include it in the first movie in the trilogy, however, is a smart move because it needs to set up for the sequel.

Another difference: Seneca Crane. He was only briefly mentioned in the book as Gamemaker. But in the movie, he gets a pretty decent part. He’s used as a mechanism for describing the evil and power of the people in the Capitol. I think we could have seen a little less of him. Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman did a well enough job of providing commentary for those not familiar with the story.

All in all though, fantastic work. The actors could not have been better cast, and all the right ingredients were there. It was moving, it was exciting, it stayed mostly true to the book. Everything worked. I’d even see it again, especially since there’s still another year-and-a-half until another Hunger Games. But until then, may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Making The Hunger Games Your Bible…Literally

In case you haven’t heard or read enough about The Hunger Games in the last two weeks, here’s some out of the ordinary Hunger Games news for you. A Bible study group from North Carolina has been hosting Hunger Games-themed Bible study classes.

That’s right. According to this article by The Huffington Post, two reverends, Andy Langford and Ann Duncan, say they’ve found a number of parallels between The Hunger Games and the Bible, like selfless love and sacrifice. Since January, about 80 people have attended their sessions called “The Gospel According To The Hunger Games Trilogy.” The pastors say they felt this would be a good way to relate to teenagers in their churches, as Duncan explains.

“We’re not trying to make [the series] something that it’s not, but we’re trying to find themes that we as Christians can relate to,”Duncan said in a press release.

The study is available as an e-book on Amazon, as a means to reach people outside of their North Carolina community. So what do you think? Does The Hunger Games have religious undertones? Is this a good way to get people talking about religion?

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Review: The Girl Who Was On Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy

In this smart, witty book about the entire Hunger Games trilogy, 16 young adult authors join forces to analyze the series that set one heroine on fire: Katniss Everdeen. The Girl Who Was on Fire is a collection of essays — analyses, literary criticisms that look at every aspect of the trilogy and either explain — in better words than you or I could– exactly what you were thinking when you read the books or completely change your point of view about them.

From essays like “Did the Third Book Suck?” to “The Politics of Mockingjay” to “Crime of Fashion,” the compilation covers each thematic aspect of the trilogy. It’s the perfect book to read right before or after seeing The Hunger Games movie this week. And so, I give you a sneak preview of some of the most interesting points made in this amazing book. You’ll quickly realize that if you’re a Hunger Games fan,  you’re going to need to get a copy or else I’ll send you a white rose…

1. Team Katniss — Whereas many of us readers, particularly the women, focused on the Team Peeta or Team Gale romantic subplot in the series, we bypassed the more integral player: Katniss, herself. She’s a difficult character to unravel and understand. But as The Girl Who Was On Fire explains, we don’t know Katniss because she has no desire to be known. But we do know everything she does is for either her survival or her family. So we should be focusing on those aspects of the novels, not who’s the better boyfriend.

2. War and The Hunger Games — Yes, the fascination with reality television — or manufactured reality — is an obvious theme in the novels. And while we often find ourselves comparing the books to competition reality shows like Survivor, it’s also worth noting there’s a bit of actual war news mixed in. Suzanne Collins herself admitted to coming up with the concept for the books from reality TV and the war in Iraq. And what’s more — as another essay points out — virtually every character in the series suffers from PTSD, another sign of war.

3. Characters Who Mattered More Than You Think — Each author who contributed to the book seemed to have a different idea as to who fueled the rebellion. Was it Katniss? What is The Capitol for allowing Katniss to take charge? But some of the lesser characters also played crucial roles. For instance,  Cinna, who made Katniss catch on fire in her bridal-gown-turned-mockingjay costume in Catching Fire. He may have made the costume, but he also defied the Capitol publicly by doing so, and quite literally turned Katniss into the mockingjay, the symbol of the rebellion. There was also Gale, who another essayist points out, was always the “doer” between he and Katniss. (Even in the beginning, Gale would talk about running away from District 12. Katniss would just listen.) And he refused to give up on the rebellion, pushing it along no matter who it — or he — hurt along the way.

There’s so much more I would like to say about The Girl Who Was On Fire, but I’ll leave you with this. If you’d like to know what caused these authors to draw comparisons to Marie Antoinette, V for Vendetta, The Real World, and Ancient Rome, you should probably just get a copy.

Now you can get it in paperback for $9.93.

Or get it on your Kindle for just $4.49.

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