This weekend, Catching Fire, the second in the trilogy of movies based on The Hunger Games books, finally made it to theaters. I had been really excited to see this movie, and I liked it enough that I certainly wouldn’t mind going back to watch it a second time. That said, I didn’t love the movie nearly as much as I thought I would.
I was first introduced into this series with the last movie. I liked the first movie a lot more than this one, probably because I watched it before reading its book, whereas here I did the exact opposite. I think that doing this only worsened my opinion of the Catching Fire movie.
There are certainly plenty of things that I did not like about the movie. I was a little disappointed that we don’t learn about how Haymitch won his game during the Second Quarter Quell, like we did in the book. Despite Jennifer Lawrence’s great acting, it still bothers me that Katniss was whitewashed. And I especially lamented that Peeta’s leg was never amputated after the first movie. I find it really hard to forgive the movie for that last one. In some ways, leaving out his amputation nearly ruined the entire movie for me, since that was all I could think about.
To be clear, Peeta’s amputation in the book never really bothered him too much—not physically at least. While he still had issues with his missing leg, The Hunger Games take place in the distant future when people are a lot more technically and medically advanced than us. As such, he did end up with a very decent replacement for his lost limb. There were times reading the books when I completely forgot about his injury, but it was still there, and it was still something he had to overcome and deal with. Catching Fire stays true to the books in many ways, including tone and atmosphere, and Peeta’s missing leg would fit very well into that. Panem is a dystopia, and the people forced into the games should be shown to suffer a lot more than PTSD. They are forced into the arena to kill people; there should be more physical consequences to that.
I can understand why we didn’t learn about Haymitch’s past, as the movie can only be so long and his backstory is not that important to the overall plot—though it would help develop his character more. And other things the movie left out, such as Plutarch showing Katniss his watch, also don’t bother me nearly as much as they have others. However, including Peeta’s disability wouldn’t have changed much in the movie, nor would it have added to the length of the film by an absurd amount.
That said, I think the movie did a good job with Katniss’s PTSD. In the opening scene, she and Gale are out hunting turkey, and when she goes to shoot one, she flashes back to killing Marvel. I think it goes to show Katniss’s humanity that she’s upset by his death, even though he killed Rue and was about to kill her as well. It also goes to show that Katniss viewed the other tributes as human beings, instead of the commodities for entertainment that the Capitol views them as.
I believe the fallout of Rue’s death was handled very well in the movie as well. We can see that both Peeta and Katniss regret that it happened and wish it could be otherwise, especially Katniss. The speech and apology she gives to Rue’s family was very touching and brought back all the agony and pain of seeing Rue die in the first film. Lady Saika and I stated in our review of the first movie that Rue was the embodiment of how evil the Hunger Games are. Saika stated:
Rue serves as the most constant and poignant reminder that the Hunger Games are a barbaric, unfair, brutal, and cruel institution.
That is true. Rue is constantly mentioned in both the following books, and Katniss never lets go of her memory of Rue. We can see this in both the speech she gives while on her victory tour and in her reaction to seeing the painting Peeta does of Rue buried in flowers.
I think both this movie and the actors do a very good job of showing the characters dealing with the events of the first one, and I like that it doesn’t glorify the violence they have to deal with. Other than the issues I have that I already stated, I think this movie is very well made and worth watching.