Saturday, November 30, 2013

Books to Movies: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Adam C. Zern opines on the film adaptation of Catching Fire:

"Watching an excellent adaptation of a book play out before my eyes is one of my favorite things.  Catching Fire, the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy, was a fine and entertaining book, but its film adaptation has successfully surpassed it in almost every way.  The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a great film and is a perfect example of how a film adaptation of a book can be accomplished.

First off, the filmmakers reveal very early on in the Catching Fire film what the main conflict of The Hunger Games trilogy is, and it's not Katniss and her vacillating feelings of love.  Katniss acts as the catalyst for the rebellion against The Capitol and that is exactly what the Catching Fire film focuses on, even if it's done in the shadows—'moves and counter-moves.'  Katniss's first-person perspective in The Hunger Games books is terribly limiting for a film and those involved in adapting the stories have wisely abandoned that more restrictive storytelling technique.  In the Catching Fire film the audience is privy to the devious machinations of President Snow and Plutarch Heavensbee and gets to watch with an informed eye the fallout of their actions.

Clearly there was a great deal more money supporting the telling of the Catching Fire story and the film is much better for it.  (Thankfully the ridiculous clothing fire effect from the first film was replaced with something worth looking at).  The imagery is crisp and often is quite evocative.  Take, for example, the sequence directly after Katniss shoots the forcefield/dome with the electrified arrow and the arena begins to fall apart.  President Snow looks on in horror as his world, his tightly controlled arena, crumbles around him and he sees the coming fire, the war, falling down on top of him.  Furthermore, as Katniss is lifted into the hovercraft, arms spread apart in a classic image of saviors and sacrifices, she is, in effect, a caged bird, even if she is being lifted to safety by the 'good' guys.  The reader wasn't able to experience any of that wonderful imagery watching the world only through Katniss's eyes.

In addition, amazingly the casting was as tight as I possibly could have imagined; albeit, I feel now more than ever that Woody Harrelsom may have been miscast, but he doesn't necessarily hurt the film.  He just doesn't add much to it.  Francis Lawrence, the director of Catching Fire, did a truly outstanding job giving time for characters to be characters, for sunsets to be sunsets, and for not allowing the gratuity of the Games to overshadow themes, relationships, and story.  He knew what he was doing and the film shows the careful crafting of someone who understands the nuances of film. 

I could not have been more pleased with the Catching Fire film adaptation.  It was a great film, an excellent adaptation, and I look forward to having it in my movie collection.  I am very pleased to admit I was wrong in my lack of excitement to see Catching Fire.  And best of all, in my opinion, the film worked wonderfully as just the right transition into what I consider the best of The Hungers Games trilogy—Mockingjay.  With Francis Lawrence at the helm for parts 1 and 2 of Mockingjay, I couldn't be more hopeful and excited for those adaptations to hit the big screen."

Other Topics of Interest:
Books to Movies: The Hunger Games
Bedtime Stories with Adam & Sarah: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Reflections: Catching Fire

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