The Movie: 6.5/10
I liked it, mostly. As bits and pieces, scene to scene, line of dialog to line of dialog it was really engrossing. As a whole it left me asking myself, “What story did this story tell?” The self answers, “No story, just filler exposition for the next part of the bigger story which comes with the next two movies.” That sounds a bit on the upside of harsh, but let’s be very honest with each other, this movie isn’t much more than a link in a chain leading to the next link, leading to the final pendant. The jewel in the pendant will be the last installment of the Hunger Games movies. Some movie series make each section of the story exciting, important, entertaining, memorable, and often even a stand along quality movie that doesn’t really need the before and after parts to make it “fit”. This one didn’t have any of that stuff.
Before you panic and run way to eat poison berries, I will say I enjoyed Catching Fire, a lot. It’s a spectacle, a full ride into the capital city, into the reality of what being a winner of the horrible hunger games is all about. That gives this link in the chain some of its strength and I would even say offers its own little gem stone that might get overlooked on the way to the dangling finale. Even if this one is feeling a bit weaker every time I think much about it.
The idea that the winners of the games from the last 75 years have gone on to possibly be tormented, broken people is an interesting aspect of the whole process. This idea was making me feel that Catching Fire had some substance, Hemlock, or whatever his name is, is a broken man, now Katniss and Peeta might be headed that direction in their personal lives. So, how can they overcome the trauma of such an ordeal? How about if they encounter other winners and find some kind of community of broken individuals? Great idea…..oh, wait, the other winners from years past have been groomed, trained, and designed to be heartless horrible sporting killers just hankering for a new chance to go into the games, or so it seems. OK, the games are wretched and show the worst of what human greed and power hungriness can do to a society. There is the terribly down trodden districts, starving, working themselves to death to support the government and Capital City. There are the snotty pretentious people in the Capital City who dress in costumes, eat until they are sick and then eat some more, and the president who has every characteristic of a vicious dictator. Amidst these contrasting elements we have the young people thrown into the death arenas, the victors to become “rock stars” and live their lives in luxury that, of course, the rest of their district citizens must pay for with backbreaking work and lack of food. It all sounds like a great story to tell, and it was, IN THE FIRST MOVIE.
Catching Fire adds nothing more for me than some thought about the victors and the idea that just because someone must go through that ordeal as a young person doesn’t mean they become troubled and tormented. It might be that everyone but our little cluster of characters, Kat, Peeta, Hemlock, are satisfied to be part of the machine of the dictatorship they live under. It’s an excellent twist, of sorts, that our rag tag team is all alone against Big Brother….oh wait, the districts are rebelling, millions of people are now uprising….so, what is the message I’m supposed to get here? Let me guess, it will be revealed in LITERALLY the last 30 seconds of the movie.
All in all I enjoyed elements of the movie. Woody Harrelson is getting better and better. Peeta won me over finally, even though he got hurt an awful lot. Katniss lost some of my respect because she’s become a very whiny young lady. I want to see more of the districts, more of the plight of the citizens, more of why all this is happening without the people rebelling decades ago!!! Notice I’m not talking much about the hunger game arena or that whole part of this movie, why? It’s less interesting than the characters’ journeys, so there ya go. Ugh, I have to watch the whole f_ing series to get a full satisfaction with the lives of the people and the ultimate fate of the whole country, which is annoying. Modern movie watching can be frustrating with these franchises. I’m old, deal with it.
- Filmmaker Commentary – Not a particularly interesting commentary, lots of “here we are watching a scene where Katniss hunts in the woods” and other obvious observations. There are also lots of weird awkward silent sections. It’s not all bad though as there are some interesting tidbits here and there.
- 9 Part making Of Documentary – Now this is how you do a making of. This Nine part documentary that runs over two and a half hours is a fascinating glimpse into how the movie was made. Lot’s of interesting interviews and behind the scenes clips. This literally takes you from script to red carpet and is an absolute must for fans of the series.
- Deleted Scenes – Almost five minutes of deleted scenes, nothing mind-blowing but for the completionist at least they are here.
- Divergent Sneak Peek – If you are into Young Adult Dystopian Futures (and you probably are if you are watching The Hunger Games), here is your next big thing. Basically it’s an ad for the upcoming movie.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
The cover is what it is, the star holding her bow with fire, appropriate if not a little bit boring. I wouldn’t have it as a poster. There are so many other images from this colorful world they could have used, but they feel the need to tell us what we already know, Katniss is good with a bow. The menu is some live action with navigation.
Audio & Video: 10/10
Catching Fire comes to Blu-Ray courtesy of Lionsgate on a stunning 1080P AVC transfer. Don’t be fooled by the Walmart exclusive disc claiming to be the Imax version, all copies of the movie are essentially the Imax edition using differing aspect ratio’s (1.78:1 & 2.40:1) for each half of the movie. I really like Blu-Rays that do this and the switch from widescreen to full frame widescreen is particularly well done. Catching Fire is the Empire Strikes Back section of The Hunger Games trilogy and as such is a lot darker and moodier than the original. I was a little worried that Lionsgate had only used one disc to house the film and the feature-length documentary but my worries were gone the second I saw the movie on the screen. This is a sublimely detailed crisp transfer that will go down as one of the best of the year. The Hunger Games Catching Fire reproduces the cinema experience at home and is a must own if you like the subject matter.
Audio is provided using the DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio codec and sounds incredible start to finish. This track is incredibly detailed, from the song of the Mockingjay to the woosh of the ships that pick up the dead tributes. One of the standouts is the firework display at president Snow’s mansion earlier in the film, with fireworks exploding in all corners of your room. Also included on the disc is a 2.0 track that is optimized for late night listening so if you are trying to sneak a viewing of Catching Fire late at night Lionsgate has you covered.
Overall Score 6.5/10