Because my first impressions can be wrong sometimes, mmmkay?

I will be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the series when I first heard of it around a year ago. There’s a not-too-exciting review of both the book and the movie on this very blog. But I went to watch Catching Fire with some friends earlier tonight, and I have to say I changed my mind…about the movies only! My biggest issue with this series is that it’s probably the only one I know of where the movies are actually better than the books. The prose just doesn’t hold my attention, but all that means is I won’t ruin how much I enjoyed this movie by reading the book.

Jennifer Lawrence’s acting truly surprised me – even though she’s won an Oscar, I wasn’t expecting her to be so good! Everything right down to the tears seemed genuine enough that it left me wondering if she was really crying. I’m still in awe of how she can express changing emotions so clearly (or appear so stony, as called for) without moving anything but her face. I LOVE her now and I think she did a fantastic job.

Everyone else played their roles to their best effect too, and the action sequences and special effects made me cringe so hard in my seat a couple of times. Despite the storyline being so similar to Hunger Games, I didn’t find it predictable or stale. But I have to say, the costumes were the best part. The burning wedding gown can be seen as superficial showing off or deeply symbolic depending on individual interpretation, but it is a true artistic accomplishment. Personally, I didn’t even have to read the book to understand the statement it makes – the dress it turns into recalls the simplicity of just before the Reaping in the previous Hunger Games, and the addition of wings represents the liberation Panem is going after. To me, the fire represents the rebellion taking place.

The idea of rebellion in this series is really what gets its target audience hooked. So many teenagers are going through that phase in their everyday lives, and every one of them will feel a certain sense of solidarity when they see it put on screen. That’s why it’s a little disturbing how violent and gory the film is, but on the other hand, our particular generation is pretty much exposed to that all day long as it is. I know a lot of viewers (especially the older ones) have an issue with the seemingly purposeless violence going on, and I won’t pretend that’s not warranted. At the same time, the kids watching this are the same ones who already live in a nation where a mind-blowing number of real-life, well-publicized mass shootings occur within one year, so I don’t think there’s too much more damage to be done.

All in all, Catching Fire was an amazing movie all around – graphics, costumes, acting, the whole package. The storyline hasn’t been particularly meaningful so far, but it’s still definitely worth a watch – maybe even worth an Oscar – for its other merits.