Blog #517: Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire


Returning Cast
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy
Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark
Donald Sutherland as President Snow
Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket
Lenny Kravitz as Cinna
Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman
Paula Malcomson as Katniss’ Mother
Willow Shields as Primrose Everdeen
Toby Jones as Claudius Templesmith

New Cast
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee
Jeffrey Wright as Beetee
Amanda Plummer as Wiress
Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair
Lynn Cohen as Mags
Jena Malone as Johanna Mason

Spoiler Free Review

As incredible as it sounds, Catching Fire is BETTER than The Hunger Games.  It’s a phenomenal film that is amazingly true to the book in all the ways that matter.

As with the first movie, this is Jennifer Lawrence’s movie, and she brilliantly brings Katniss’s confusion, pain, strength, vulnerability, and dignity, to life.  We all know that movies like this don’t get Oscar nominations for acting, so it’s hardly worth saying it, but she absolutely deserves to be nominated for best actress.  Whether she is frantic over Peeta’s safety, trying to save Gale, or fiercely fighting for her life, she makes you believe every single emotion Katniss is feeling.

Woody Harrelson, and Josh Hutcherson give superb performances.  Donald Sutherland is once again excellent as the conniving and ruthless President Snow.  It is unfortunate that Stanley Tucci and Lenny Kravitz don’t get more screen time, because they were also wonderful.

The new cast is led by Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair, and Jena Malone as Johanna Mason.  Hoffman truly steals most of the scenes he’s in, most of which are not in the book.  Sam Claflin was great as Finnick.  The first scene when we meet Jena Malone’s Johanna Mason is one of the most memorable from this film.  (Trust me, you’ll know the one I’m talking about.)

It’s hard to talk much about the story without spoilers, but it is incredibly faithful to the book, and a perfect set up for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I.


Before I get into the details of the review, I should mention that I really don’t remember the details in Catching Fire as well as I do from The Hunger Games, so some of my recollections of the book could be a bit off.  Also, it doesn’t help that my notes from the movie weren’t very good.  I only saw it twice, and the second time I was so engrossed in the movie that my notes suffered.  (In other words, I may not make any sense at times, but then that’s nothing new.)

The movie opens with a beautiful shot of Katniss crouched by a lake with her bow.  She abruptly stands, turns, and knocks an arrow only to find Gale heading towards her.  Clearly she is jumpy, but I suppose that goes without saying after surviving the arena.

There conversation lets us know two important things.  The tour (it’s not clear what tour at this point unless you’ve read the book) is leaving in two hours.  We also learn that Gale is now working in the mines, just like Katniss’s father did.

Katniss and Gale go to shoot some turkeys, but when Katniss shoots, she has a flashback to shooting Marvel in the arena, and completely melts down.  Since the movie can’t give us her thoughts, which told us in such detail how much post traumatic stress she was feeling, this certainly does the trick.  To see Katniss, one moment, calm lining up her shot and the next screaming in panic, is a stark reminder of what she’s been through.  I’m not sure you can really understand the full depth of what she has been through without seeing the first movie, but this certainly gives you a taste of it.

Notably missing from this scene is an encounter with two runaways from another district who are trying to get to District 13.  This is the foreshadow where we learn that some believe that District 13 was not destroyed.  I don’t think it is a major loss, but it is notable.

“I had to do that at least once,” – Gale Hawthorne, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Back in town, Gale says goodbye to Katniss.  He isn’t going to see her off at the train station.  She tells him that it was an act, referring to her relationship with Peeta in the area and afterwards.  This is another moment where that might not be completely clear if you didn’t see the first movie.  Gale kisses her and leaves.

“You are a strangely dislikable person.” – Haymitch Abernathy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss heads home to Haymitch’s house, walking past her sister’s cat Buttercup, who hisses at her.  I wish we got more of Buttercup in the movies, but at least she’s there.  Haymitch is passed out at the kitchen table, so Katniss throws a glass of water on him.

“Brrrr.  You two have a lot of warming up to do before show time.” – Haymitch Abernathy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Peeta arrives, and it is very clear that the two of them are not on good terms.  What does not seem as clear is exactly why they are not on good terms.  Is Peeta upset that her feelings for him were fake?  Is she angry that she can’t be with Gale because they have to keep up appearances?  It’s more subtle than that, and in a brilliant scene later, it does become clear.

Katniss heads home.  The victor’s village was not, to my knowledge, ever explained specifically in the first film, and they don’t explain it here, but as soon as she walks into the house, you know they are no longer living in their old home.

“I think we can make this so much simpler if we agree not to lie to each other” – President Snow
“Yes I believe that would save time.” – Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

She finds an unwelcome guest, President Snow has decided to pay her a visit.  She seems oddly defiant at first, which given the situation she knows they are in seems a bit reckless.  She has to know how dangerous he is, but I don’t get the feeling at this point that she’s so terribly afraid of him.

“It must be a fragile system if it can be brought down by a handful of berries.” – Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Snow tells her that the districts are not believing that their actions in the games were just to save their lives.  They think it was an act of defiance.

“You fought very hard in the games Miss Everdeen.  But they were games.  Would you like to be in a real war?”
“No.” – Katniss Everdeen
“Good.  Neither would I.” – President Snow
“What do I need to do?” – Katniss Everdeen
“When you and Peeta are on tour you need to smile.  You need to be grateful.  But above all you need to be madly prepared to end it all in love.  You think you can manage that?” – President Snow
“Yes.” – Katniss Everdeen
“Yes what?” – President Snow
“I’ll convince them.” – Katniss Everdeen
“No.  Convince me.” – President Snow, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Snow gives Katniss an ultimatum.  Convince everyone that she was truly a girl in love trying to save their skins.  He says that he doesn’t want to kill her.  He wants her to be in love so that the people forget, and that she has to convince him.  Snow shows her a video of her kiss with Gale, and Katniss looks scared for the first time in this scene.

I absolutely love this scene, and the fact that he knows without question that she’s not in love with Peeta is a wonderful addition to the movie.  It allows them to drop some of the pretense, like pretending that Gale is her cousin to explain them spending time together.

Something really great was left out of this scene, Katniss smelling blood on Snow’s breath.  It’s an important detail, but they brilliantly get it in later.

Effie, Cinna, and the prep team arrive.  We see little more of the prep team, but Katniss is very happy to see Cinna.

We cut to a broadcast of Caesar Flickerman covering Katniss and Peeta leaving their homes to go to the train station and begin the victory tour.  Katniss and Peeta’s houses are across from each other.  They meet and embrace, then slip and fall in the snow, with Katniss on top of Peeta.  She kisses him passionately, playing for the camera.  After Peeta notes that it almost seemed real.  He’s clearly angry.

“Enjoy it Katniss.  You’ve earned it.” – Effie Trinket
“By killing people.” – Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

On the train, Effie is her usual bubbly oblivions self, and Katniss is not terribly receptive to her to say the least.  Katniss gets up and leaves.

“You saved us.  I know that.  But I can’t go on acting for the cameras and then just ignoring each other in real life.” – Peeta Mellark, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

“If you can stop looking at me like I’m wounded, then maybe I can stop acting like it.” – Peeta Mellark, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

“See, Katniss, the way the whole ‘friend’ thing works is that you have to tell each other the deep stuff.” – Peeta Mellark
“The deep stuff?” – Katniss Everdeen
“Yeah.” – Peeta Mellark
“Like what?” – Katniss Everdeen
“Like…what’s your favorite color?” – Peeta Mellark
“Oh, now you’ve stepped over the line.” – Katniss Everdeen

Katniss is in the last car of the train looking out the back window when the door opens.  She says she wants to be left alone, but when she turns around, it’s Peeta.  The above lines pretty much sums things up between them.  He was hurt, but she was hurt that she had to hurt him.  Kind of sums things up, but Peeta clearly wants to put it behind them so they can be friends, something Katniss is not good at.

Katniss sees a drawing of her Mockingjay pin painted inside the tunnel as they enter District 11, and this is the first time we really see that the people have embraced her as a symbol.  They come out of the tunnel to see that District 11 has way more peacekeepers than District 12.

Effie gives them both speeches to read, and Peeta offers to do the talking.  As soon as they walk out of the justice building to the crowd, Katniss sees Thresh and Rue’s pictures up on the electronic billboards and their families.

Peeta goes off script making a great speech donating one month of their winnings per year to families of the tributes.  We briefly see Effie and Haymitch both starting to freak out about it a little.

“She was too young, too gentle, and I couldn’t save her.  I’m sorry.” – Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss goes to the microphone and talks about Thresh showing her mercy and how Rue was her friend and that she sees her in the flowers in meadow by her house.  An old man in the crowd whistles the tune that Rue showed her in the first film and raises his hand in the three finger salute that Katniss displayed after Rue died.  Others in the crowd do the same.

Peacekeepers go into the crowd, as Katniss and Peeta are dragged back into the building.  They pull the man up on the stage, and as the door clothes, Katniss sees one of the peacekeepers shoot the man in the head.

“You two have a very simple task.” – Haymitch Abernathy
“I never meant for anyone to get killed, he has to know that.  I’m sorry I didn’t know what to do.” – Katniss Everdeen
“What are you talking about.  Who has to know what?” – Haymitch Abernathy
“Snow.  He came to see me.  He’s worried about rebellion in the districts.  He thinks that they don’t believe our love story.” – Katniss Everdeen
“You know Katniss, you should have told me that before I went out there and tried to give these people the money.” – Peeta Mellark
“I’m sorry I didn’t know what to do.” – Katniss Everdeen
“Katniss, what were you thinking?” – Haymitch Abernathy
“Please…please just help me get through this trip.  Please just help us get through this.” – Katniss Everdeen
“This trip, girl, wake up.  This trip doesn’t end when you get back home.  You never get off this train.  You two are mentors now.  From now on your job is to be a distraction so people will forget what the real problems are.” – Haymitch Abernathy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss is beside herself as she tells Peeta and Haymitch about Snow’s visit.  Haymitch’s line about never getting off this train was one of my favorite in the movie, really encapsulating how desperately they want to get away from all that the capital is given them.  Katniss hugs Haymitch and he comforts her.  This seems a little unusual fro Katniss, but she did just watch a man be murdered for supporting her.

The tour continues, with Katniss and Peeta reading their speeches without diverting from the script, and the riots, the salutes, and the unrest continues.

At one stop, a young girl gives Katniss flowers, and tells her that she wants to be just like Katniss and volunteer some day.  The look on Katniss’s face tells you all you need to know.  It’s chilling.

On the train, Katniss wakes up screaming having a nightmare.  Peeta comes in to check on her.  he tellers her that he has nightmares too.  She asks him to stay.

The train goes by a building where the graffiti reads “The odds are never in our favor.”

“Put down the cards and tell us what you really think!” – Woman in the Crowd, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The stops continue, the riots continue.  Katniss is pulled away from the stage at one stop, and we cut to President Snow sitting with his granddaughter.  Her hair is pulled back in a long braid that trails over her shoulder, just like Katniss wore in the game.  Snow asks her shy she’s wearing her hair like that and she tells him that everyone at school is wearing their hair that way.  So, even in the capital, people are looking up to Katniss, even if it is for different reasons.  This is a new scene, that is not in the book, and a really great moment in the film.

“They don’t look in love.” – Haymitch Abernathy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Haymitch talks to Katniss and Peeta on the train because they don’t look like they are in love.  Peeta suggests they get married.  We cut to Caesar Flickerman showing footage of the proposal.  We see Gale in the mines seeing the coverage.

“Eyes bright, chins up, smiles on.  I’m talking to you Katniss.” – Effie Trinket, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Now in the Capitol, Katniss, Peeta, and Effie head to the party in their honor, where Effie reminds Katniss to smile.  She does not smile.  While at the party, Peeta is offered something to eat.  When he says he is full, he is offered a drink to make him sick so he can try more things.  Peeta suggests its time for a dance.

“People are starving in 13.  Here they are throwing it up so the can put more in.” – Peeta Mellark, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss and Peeta dance, and Peeta points out that people in District 13 are starving.

“Being head Game Maker has never been the most secure job in the world.” – Plutarch Heavensbee, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss and Peeta run into Plutarch Heavensbee.  He cuts in and dances with Katniss.  I wish I had been able to write down this entire scene word for world, but what he says certainly suggests that he could be on her side.  In the book we get something more concrete when he shows her his watch which has a Mockingjay on it.  The movie is far more ambiguous, especially with the scenes coming up with Plutarch.

Snow gives a toast. Earlier I mentioned that we never found out that his breath smelled like blood.  When he drinks his champagne and tips down the glass, it’s turned red.  Not sure Katniss can see that from the distance away she is, but it really isn’t important for her to know it.  I saw it twice, and I *think* that Snow shakes his head at her slightly, but I’m not sure.  It happens really fast.

Back on the train heading home, Katniss sees riots on video screens in the train control room.  Things are clearly getting worse.

“She’s not who they think she is.  She just wants to save her skin.  It’s as simple as that.  She has become a beacon of hope for them.  She has to be eliminated.  What do you think?” – President Snow
“I agree she should die, but in the right way.  At the right time.  Katniss Everdeen is a symbol.  We don’t have to destroy her, just her image.  Show them that she’s one of us now.  Let them rally behind that.  They’re gonna hate her so much they just might kill her for you.” – Plutarch Heavensbee, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Now we get the first of a series of great scenes with Snow and Plutarch as they discuss what to do with Katniss.  Plutarch suggests they make everyone hate her.  Order more floggings and executions and show scenes of that between scenes of Katniss getting ready for her wedding.  He says it will show the rioters that Katniss is really not one of them anymore.

“You haven’t hurt people, Katniss.  You’ve given them an opportunity.  They just have to be brave enough to take it.” – Gale Hawthorne
“We have to go, Gale, before they kill us.  They will kill us.” – Katniss Everdeen
“What about the other families?  The ones who stay.  What happens to them?  People are looking to you, Katniss.” – Gale Hawthorne
“I don’t want anyone looking to me.  I can’t help them.” – Katniss Everdeen
“You do what you want.  I’m staying here.” – Gale Hawthorne, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss gets home and immediately seeks out Gale.  Katniss tells him that she wants to run away.  Gale had wanted to do that before The Reaping in the first movie.  Katniss tells him about the riots in the other districts.  Gale won’t run, he wants to fight.  Katniss wants no part of that.

District 13 is flooded with peacekeepers.  It is very clear that things are changing, as the first thing the new head peacekeeper Thread does is have a black bag put over the head of the previous head peacekeeper.  They burn down The Hob and beat pretty much everyone.

Katniss helps Greasy Sae, who I do not believe has been identified by name in either movie when she is injured in the attack.  Meanwhile Gale intervenes in a beating, tackling Thread to the ground.

“I never said she was smart.” – Haymitch Abernathy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

They tie gale to a post in the center of town and start whipping him.  Katniss arrives and tries to intervene.  Thread hits her in the face.  She gets back up and stands between them, daring him to do it again.  Thread pulls his gun.  Haymitch shows up and then Peeta, and they talk Thread down, pointing out who she is.  Thread backs off, but promises that he will kill them next time.

This all unfolds a little differently in the book.  Gale is whipped for illegal hunting, while the movie makes his actions more heroic.  I like the way the movie does it.

Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch take Gale to her mother and Prim.  In the first movie, we never found out that Katniss’s mother was a healer and that Prim was learning.  It is shown beautifully in this scene, when her mother and Prim immediately move into action as if they do this kind of thing all the time (which they do).  When Katniss’s mother’s hands shake too much to draw up the injection of morfling, Prim does it and then gives it to Gale.  While I would have liked to have seen this in the first book, this scene was excellent and got across all we needed to know.

While Gale is unconscious, Katniss stays with him, at one point kissing him and touching his hair.  Not hard to see that she has feelings for him even if she thinks she’s too afraid to think about them.

“You saved my life.  You gave me a chance.” – Primrose Everdeen
“Yes, to live.” – Katniss Everdeen
“No, to do something.” – Primrose Everdeen, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

“Since the last Games, something’s different.  I can see it.” – Primrose Everdeen
“What can you see?” – Katniss Everdeen
“Hope.” – Primrose Everdeen, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Peeta arrives the next morning and offers to stay with Gale.  Katniss goes to get more snow for Gale’s wounds.  Prim joins her.  This is a really great scene, one of the few with Prim.  In the book, this is when Katniss starts thinking about actually being part of the rebellion.  You can see it in Katniss’s face.  I think they get the point across pretty well in this scene.

“Her entire species must be eradicated.” – President Snow
“Her species, sir?” – Plutarch Heavensbee
“The other victors.  Because of her, they all pose a threat.  Because of her, they all think they’re invincible.” – President Snow, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Again we see Snow and Plutarch.  Snow says that all the victors must be eliminated and Plutarch suggests the Quarter Quell.  We then get the announcement of the Reaping for the Quarter Quell being from the existing pool of victors.  In the book, this is *supposedly* something that was decided when the Hunger Games were started, but the details were kept in sealed envelopes until the announcement.  In the book, it was always assumed that Snow made the decision, but the movie makes that fact.  Even more than that, they make it Plutarch’s idea.  This is very important later.

“I’m here to drink.” – Katniss Everdeen
“Finally something I can help you with.” – Haymitch Abernathy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss freaks out knowing that she will be returning to the arena and runs into the woods.  Then she thinks of Peeta and runs to Haymitch’s house.  She has a drink, but does not get completely drunk like she does in the book, so we don’t get to see Peeta show up and yell at them.  Peeta had already been there begging Haymitch to help him save her again.  Katniss asks him to volunteer so they can save Peeta, and he agrees, but Haymitch can’t do anything if his name is drawn at the Reaping and Peeta volunteers.

Katniss makes Haymitch promise that no matter what, he will help her makes sure that Peeta lives.

Katniss and Gale say goodbye.  He says they should have run away.  Katniss kisses him again, which she did not do in the book.  I think it’s a good addition.  Not knowing how Katniss is feeling, this makes it very clear that she does have feelings for him.

The Reaping was one of my favorite scenes.  Katniss is the only female tribute, so pulling her name out is a formality.  Before she opens it, Effie looks at Katniss.  A tear rolls down Katniss’s cheek.  For the first time in a movie and a half, Effie looks like a human being.  It’s clear in her expression that this is different.  This isn’t some random kid she thinks is about to embark on something great.  Nice to see that as clueless as people from the capital are, they are not all completely heartless.

She goes to pull either Haymitch or Peeta’s name.  Katniss looks horrified when Effie reads Haymitch’s name, but there is nothing she can do.  Peeta volunteers.  Haymitch tries to talk him out of it, but that isn’t happening.

Katniss’s mother and sister both do the three finger salute, followed by everyone else.  Peeta and Katniss return it and are then dragged off to the train, being told they won’t be allowed to say goodbye.  All Katniss can do is yell goodbye as they are dragged into the justice building.

On the train, Effie wants to get something gold for Peeta and Haymitch as a token, since Katniss’s Mockingjay pin and Effie’s hair are gold.  It’s a symbol that they are a team.  I have no memory of this from the book at all, but I assume it was in there.

Haymitch tells Katniss and Peeta that they will need allies in the arena.  Peeta agrees, but Katniss says she doesn’t want anyone but Peeta.  They talk about some of the other tributes.  The brother and sister who won consecutive years from District 1 and the crazy girl who had her teeth sharpened from District 2.  Wiress and Beetee from District 3 and the Morflings who medicate themselves heavily from District 5.  Finnick Odair and Mags from District 4  Finnick was the youngest ever winner at fourteen, and Mags, Haymitch notes, is a nice lady and Finnick will protect her.

Before they do the procession, Katniss has a talk with Finnick.  He seems to be flirting with her, but she is not interested.  It is in this scene that we find out that the wedding was canceled because of the games.

Cinna tells Katniss and Peeta no smiling or waving during the procession.  Act like they are above everyone.  I love the change of tone.  They are fan favorite now, they don’t need to curry favor with the crowd.  Their flaming outfits look fantastic.

As they pass in front of Snow, Katniss stares at him defiantly.  It was a great scene.

“So what do you think now that the whole world wants to sleep with you?” – Johanna Mason
“I don’t think…” – Katniss Everdeen
“I wasn’t talking to you.” – Johanna Mason, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

So, this girl gets on the elevator after the procession complaining about her dress and proceeds to strip naked in front of Katniss, Haymitch, and Peeta.  She winks at Haymitch before getting off the elevator and Haymitch tells them that her name is Johanna Mason.

Next we move on to training.  We see the tributes from District 1 and District 2, but really learn little about them.  Katniss meets Beetee and Wiress.  Beetee points out that there is a force field in front of the Gamemakers and Katniss say that’s probably because of her.

Katniss goes on to meet Mags, who can’t talk.  Katniss offers to show Mags how to hunt if she will show her how to make a fish hook.  Katniss goes into the training room and blows away all the holograms.  She turns around to find all the other tributes watching her.

Haymitch talks to Katniss and Peeta about allies again.  Katniss says she wants Wiress Beetee and Mags or know one at all, and Haymitch says he will tell everyone they are still making up their minds.

I don’t recall exactly where, but somewhere around this point in the book, Katniss and Peeta found out how Haymitch won when he was in the games and learn about the force fields around the outside of the arena.  I really wish they had kept that in.  I’d have loved to see the video of how Haymitch won.

“Katniss, how are we gonna kill these people?” – Peeta Mellark, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

We move on to the single assessment.  In the book, following the assessment we learned that Peeta had drawn a picture of Rue on the floor.  In the movie, Katniss sees it, and we see a tear roll down her cheek.  Then, as she did in the book, she takes one of the practice dummies, writes the name Seneca Crane across the chest, draws on his beard (but I don’t recall if his beard was in the book), and hoists him up with a noose around his neck.  She then bows defiantly and leaves as Plutarch Heavensbee looks on.

“I’m getting totally screwed over here!” – Johanna Mason, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Next we have the interviews, which take on a much different tone than they did in the first movie.  The tributes are clearly upset to be back in the game, something made most clear by Johanna Mason who drops f-bombs on the crowd, upset that she was supposed to get to live in luxury when she won, not be sent back to the games.  This also means that Caesar Flickerman is off his game, his normal charming self not suited to dealing with angry tributes.  The girl tribute from District 1, one of the careers, even cries.

Interspersed with the interviews we get some interesting dialogue.

“These victors are angry Katniss.  They’ll say anything to stop the games. – Haymitch Abernathy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

(The above quote may have been Cinna, my notes weren’t clear.)

In the first movie, we didn’t really get to meet the other mentors/previous victors or get a sense of how they felt about the games or their roles in them.  We only got Haymitch’s view.  Now we’re finding out that they are just as angry and bitter as Haymitch is.

“You would have been the most beautiful bride,” – Effie Trinket, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Yet more evidence that Effie is a human being.

“Really?  A wedding dress.” – Johanna Mason
“Snow made me wear it.” – Katniss Everdeen
“Make him pay for it.” – Johanna Mason, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss is charming at the interview, as she was in the first movie.  At the end, she twirls around, but instead of her dress just being on fire, it transforms completely into a dress that looks like a Mockingjay.

We see Snow watching the broadcast as they talk about Cinna’s dress.

I wouldn’t have any regrets at all if it weren’t for…” – Peeta Mellark
“Weren’t for what?” – Caesar Flickerman
“Weren’t for the baby.” – Peeta Mellark, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

During Peeta’s interview, he drops the bombshell that they got married in secret and that Katniss is pregnant, even they didn’t and she isn’t.  This prompts the crowd to gasp in horror and start shouting in protest.

Peeta joins Katniss and the other Tributes on the upper level of the stage where he hug’s her, and the crowd continues to protest.  Then all the tributes hold hands and raise their arms in solidarity.

“You both deserved so much better.  I’m truly sorry.” – Effie Trinket, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Haymitch informs Katniss and Peeta that the games will not be canceled.  Effie gives Haymitch his gold bangle and Peeta his gold medallion.  Both of these items are very important for different reasons.  Effie is very emotional.  I imagine that she not only realizes what returning to the games means for Katniss and Peeta, but probably is also realizing what she has been a part of all these years.  Though I could be giving her too much credit.

“Katniss, when you’re in the arena…remember who the real enemy is.” – Haymitch Abernathy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The night before the games, Katniss tells Peeta that she doesn’t want any allies.  She just wants it to be the two of them.

“They’re holding hands.  I want them dead.” – President Snow, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

We have another scene with Plutarch Heavensbee and President Snow.  Snow wants all the tributes dead.  It really feels like this is the moment when Snow starts to see everything unraveling.  He doesn’t just want them dead, he wants them dead now.

“Remember, I’m still betting on you, girl on fire.” – Cinna, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

For the second movie in a row, we get a goodbye scene with Katniss and Cinna when he gives her the Mockingjay pin.  Katniss steps onto the platform, and the glass slides shut.  The door opens behind Cinna, and soldiers rush in and start beating Cinna.  Katniss screams and bangs on the glass, but to no avail.  After they beat him, he is dragged from the room.  From reading the book, we know that in the third book they say that Cinna is believed to be dead.  He’s never seen again, so it is assumed to be true.  I would love to see him brought back, as his death was never confirmed, they certainly could do that, but I doubt it.  It’s unfortunate, because Lenny Kravitz is so good as Cinna, I’d love for him to get some more screen time in the next movie.

Katniss rises out of the chute to find herself on a pedestal surrounded by water.  The cornucopia is sitting on an island at the center of a circular pool, connected to the beach by twelve spoke like walkways.

At the sound of the cannon, Katniss jumps into the water, swims to the walkway and runs for the cornucopia.  She grabs her bow and turns just in time to shoot a tribute running towards her down the walkway.  She spins around, knocks an arrow, and is about to shoot Finnick, when he holds up his arm and shows her Haymitch’s gold bangle.  It’s pretty clear that Haymitch went ahead and forged an alliance for them.  Clearly Katniss is weary of Finnick, but decides to trust him for the moment.  Finnick tells her that he will find Peeta.

We see Peeta wrestling with another tribute.  They fall into the water and are pulled under as Finnick swims toward them.  At some point earlier in the movie, Peeta told Katniss that he doesn’t know how to swim.  Then a cannon sounds, and the look on Katniss’s face tells you all you need to know.  She thinks its Peeta.  A moment later a body floats to the surface, and another moment later, Peeta emerges.

Katniss, Peeta, Finnick, and Mags (who Finnick carries on his back the whole time) gather supplies and head into the jungle.  The four careers are teamed up, and we really don’t know at this point what happened to everyone else, but as they head into the jungle we hear cannons sound.

There first problem is that they have no fresh water, so they are looking for water.  As they are walking, Peeta walks into a force field just before Katniss notices the shimmer and warns him.

“You were dead!  You were dead!  Your heart stopped!” – Katniss Everdeen
“It’s working now.” – Peeta Mellark, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Peeta is lying dead on the ground, and as Katniss is freaking out, Finnick does CPR. This goes on for a minute or so, then Peeta finally starts breathing and opens his eyes.  Katniss throws her arms around him and kisses him.

Even after saving Peeta’s life, Katniss still doesn’t trust Finnick.

“I want to love someone that much.” – President Snow’s Granddaughter, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

We shift to a scene outside of the arena, one that was added for the movie.  We see Snow and his granddaughter.  They are watching the games, seeing Katniss holding Peeta after he was revived.  This being a new scene, it’s hard to know what Snow’s thinking when his granddaughter says she wants to love someone that much.

I’ve got a few ideas on that though.

Perhaps he’s realizing that while he didn’t think that Katniss had convinced him that their love was genuine, perhaps they did convince everyone else.  He might be realizing that Katniss was powerless to quell the riots, as it didn’t matter that they were in love, there was no stopping the rebellion.

On the other hand, maybe he’s wondering if his determination to see her dead will backfire.  It certainly did at the interviews when the Capitol crowd practically rebelled themselves.

Who knows, maybe it’s none of that, maybe it’s all of it.

Back in the arena, Katniss climbs a tree and shoots and arrow into the air, realizing that they are in a dome.  While this is useful information, it doesn’t help them with their immediate problem, that they have no fresh water and are becoming badly dehydrated.

They try to get some sleep when a silver parachute solves the fresh water problem, bringing them a spile.

At midnight they hear twelve loud banging sounds and see a large tree in the distance struck by lightning.  (It’s possible they didn’t see the tree until later, I don’t recall.)

“If you’re not going to sleep, I will” – Finnick Odair, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire

Katniss still doesn’t trust Finnick, so she decides to stay awake.  However, she falls asleep and awakes just in time to see a fog rolling in.  She reaches out towards it and it burns her hand leaving nasty looking pustules behind.

They all awake and start to run, Finnick carrying Mags.  The fog continues to pursue and surround them.  All are burned, but Peeta has had the worst of it.  Katniss can’t carry him on his own.  Mags kisses Finnick and then runs into the fog.  A moment later a cannon sounds as Finnick screams.

If you have not read the book, this really seems like Mags knows that she won’t survive, and that Finnick, or maybe any of them, have a better chance to win, so she sacrifices herself.  In reality though, it’s more than that, as we’ll realize later.

As they run, they fall down a hill.  When they reach the bottom, the fog is stopped by a force field that had allowed them through.  All three of them are in horrible pain from the burns.

In the book, a parachute delivered them ointment for the burns.  I don’t think in the book it was meant to be as bad as the movie makes it seem, so they have a quicker solution.

Katniss crawls to a stream, and puts her hand in.  It hurts her even more, but the water starts to wash away the blisters.  She and Peeta get in the water, and then drag Finnick in.  This kind of makes sense.  If you’re the Game Maker, you wouldn’t want them to just lie their in agony until someone comes along to kill them.  They need it to be a show.

Not sure exactly when they started to do it in the book, but at some point they started receiving bread, which Finnick would carefully count.  We would later find out that was to tell them when to make their move to bring down the arena.  In the movie, it seems the timing of it isn’t as important.  Plutarch can certainly see what’s going on and act accordingly.

“Sorry about Mags.” – Katniss Everdeen
“She was never going to make it…so.” – Finnick Odair, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

They only have a little time to rest from the fog attack (or at least it seems like it’s only been a short while) when they are attacked by monkeys.

Katniss ends up under water in the stream fighting with a monkey, and Peeta has to rescue her.  They head toward the beach, fighting the monkeys as they run.  Peeta is cornered by a monkey, there is nothing he can do when it leaps at him, when suddenly the Morfling girl from District 5 jumps out of the bushes in front of him and is mauled by the monkey, having her throat nearly torn out.  They take her with them and continue on to the beach.

The monkeys don’t come out onto the beach, stopping just past the tree line, and a few moments later, they retreat into the jungle.

“She sacrificed herself for me, and I don’t even know her name.” – Peeta Mellark
“You think she sacrificed herself for you?” – Katniss Everdeen
“Looked like it.” – Peeta Mellark
“That doesn’t make any sense.” – Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Morfling girl dies in Peeta’s arms.  Her body floats away, and for the first time, we see a hovercraft pick up the body.  It was easy enough to assume that Mags sacrificed herself for Finnick, but there is no reason for the Morfling to sacrifice herself.

In a rather sweet moment, while eating oysters, Peeta finds a pearl and gives it to Katniss.  As they are eating, a flood of water comes down from the forest across the lagoon from them.  It flows out toward the cornucopia, where it hits a force field, and we see another hovercraft retrieving a body from the jungle.

“Guess we have more allies.” – Peeta Mellark

Johanna, Beetee and Wiress come out of jungle a ways down the beach.  Katniss and Peeta are of course prepared to fight, but Finnick calls Johanna’s name and runs down the beach towards them.  This yet again feels odd, as if there is something going on that Katniss and Peeta don’t know about.  Things like that are starting to pile up.

“I got them out for you.” – Johanna Mason
“For me?  What does that mean?” – Katniss Everdeen
“You did want them as allies.” – Johanna Mason, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Johanna, Beetee and Wiress ran into blood rain in the forest, and Johanna is a little upset about it.  She seems to be aiming her anger at Katniss, and the above dialogue further confuses the situation.  Wiress keeps saying “tick tock,” which is also really annoying Johanna.

They finally figure out that the entire arena is laid out like a giant clock.  They go out to the cornucopia for a better view of it, and realize that each wedge of the clock has a different danger.  Suddenly, the careers show up and kill Wiress.  Katniss gets one of the careers with an arrow.  The cornucopia starts to spin.  Katniss is nearly thrown into the water, but Johanna holds onto her.  Eventually she loses her grip and ends up in the water.  The cornucopia stops spinning and everyone is okay.

They make it to the beach, and Katniss hears Prim’s voice.  She runs into the jungle, the others in pursuit.  Finnick catches up.  Katniss realizes that it’s Mockingjays mimicking Prim’s voice.  Finnick starts hearing Annie, the female tribute from his district who Mags volunteered for, though Katniss doesn’t realize this.  A force field prevents them from escaping back to the beach, and Finnick and Katniss are overwhelmed by the cries of the people they love.  This scene was so well done.

Once the force field is dropped and Katniss and Finnick wake up they go back to the beach.  Katniss is upset because Mockingjays mimic, so they would have had to have Prim, but someone (I don’t recall who says it) tells Katniss that they wouldn’t hurt Prim, that everyone loves her.

Beetee has a plan.  He wants to connect a wire to the lightning tree that runs to the water.  Once they have left the beach, the careers will likely go to the beach, and then be electrocuted.

Katniss wants to leave the group.  She thinks the plan will work but doesn’t want to shoot first at any of their allies.  Peeta wants to see the plan through, so Katniss agrees to stay.

Peeta gives Katniss the pendant that he had Effie make.  It was never really for him.  It is actually a locket, and inside are pictures of Gale, Prim, and Katniss’s mother.  Peeta says she has to be the one to make it home to her family, that he has no family.  I don’t really understand this.  Peeta has family in the books, but they all die in the firebombing of District 12.  Not sure what it means that he says he has no family, unless he’s just not really close to any of them anymore.  I could have missed something somewhere.

Katniss and Peeta kiss, and if we weren’t sure before if she had genuine romantic feelings for Peeta, there is no question anymore.

We get another seen with Plutarch and Snow.  Snow is happy, there plan seems to have worked.  Katniss is getting ready to fight, and once she does, he’s won.

Beetee wants both Finnick and Peeta to guard him while he prepares the trap, while Katniss and Johanna run the wire down to the water.  Katniss is not happy about this, but Peeta agrees reluctantly.

As Katniss and Johanna are running the wire back to the beach, it gets caught on something and then snaps, and they hear someone coming.

Joanna knocks Katniss down and cuts out her tracker, though it’s not obvious that is what she does at this point.  She tells Katniss to stay down, and draws the careers away.

Katniss hears Finnick calling her, but hides, still not willing to trust him, especially after what just happened with Johanna.  She goes looking for Peeta.

She finds Beetee unconscious and no sign of Peeta.  The wire that is connected to the tree is wrapped around a spear.  Finnick arrives, and Katniss knocks an arrow and points it at him.

We see Snow.  He thinks he’s won.  All she has to do is let the arrow fly.

“Katniss, remember who the real enemy is.” – Finnick Odair, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

They hear that the lightning is imminent.  Katniss picks up the spear, pulls off the wire and wraps it around her arrow.  She shoots it at the top of the dome.  Lightning strikes the tree, and runs up the wire.

“It’s not possible.” – President Snow, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The television feed of the arena disappears from the screen Snow is watching.  He goes out into the control room looking for Plutarch, but he’s gone.

Katniss awakens on the ground.  The roof of the dome has been torn open.  A hovercraft appears, and lowers a claw.  She is lifted into the air and passes out.

Katniss wakes up on the floor of the hovercraft.  Beetee is there.  She pulls out the IV in her arm, grabs a syringe to use as a weapon, and heads into another room on the hovercraft.

“You and a syringe against the capital.  That’s why no one lets you make the plans.” – Haymitch Abernathy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss finds, Haymitch, Finnick, and Plutarch around a table.  She attacks Haymitch with the syringe, believe he has betrayed her to the Capital.

“The plan was always to get you out.  This is the revolution and you are the Mockingjay.” – Plutarch Heavensbee, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

We can now see how much of this Plutarch set up.  He talked Snow into drawing tributes from the existing pool of victors so that at least some of them would join them in the plan.  It’s that plan that prompted Mags to let herself be killed, the Morfling girl to save Peeta, and Johanna save Beetee and Wiress for Katniss.  Now it all makes sense.

They tell Katniss that they couldn’t rescue Johanna and Peeta.  Katniss yells at Haymitch that he lied to her.  She tries to attack him, and is knocked out with a syringe.

“There is no District 12.  Its all gone.” – Gale Hawthorne, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss wakes up with Gale.  He tells her that he got Prim and her mother out in time.  He tells her that the hovercrafts came and started dropping firebombs.

We see Katniss lying on the table from above.  She’s crying for a moment, then her expression hardens.  She’s angry.  This is such a perfect ending, the moment she really becomes The Mockingjay.

Guess that’s all I have.  I loved this movie, and I can’t wait for Mockingjay, Part I.

Thanks for reading!

About lmb3

I’m 36 years old, and I work in network tech support for a public school system. I am a huge fan of Star Trek, Transformers, Harry Potter, and Marvel Comics as well as numerous other fandoms. I’m a big sports fan, especially the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. I collect toys (mostly Transformers but other stuff too), comic books, and Red Sox baseball cards. I watch an obscene amount of television and love going to the movies. I am hopelessly addicted to Wizard Rock and I write Harry Potter Fanfiction, though these days I am working on a couple of different original YA novels.
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