Thoughts on Catching Fire

Katniss
While I do think that Jennifer Lawrence is a wonderful actress and looks great with dark hair, and while I think that she did a very good job of playing this character, there is a problem.

She’s white.

In the book, she’s described as being olive-skinned with thick, straight black hair and gray eyes. There’s this whole very nice bit about how the upper class in District 12 is very very White and the divide between the merchant class and the miners. That’s completely erased in the movie.

I found the treatment of Katniss’s PTSD in the movie to be marginally better than the treatment of her PTSD in the book—which isn’t saying much, since in the book it was basically nonexistent.

I found, however, that the treatment of her trauma in the movie was very inconsistent—when shooting turkeys, she sees Marvel, the only boy she killed in the games, and understandably flips her shit about it. When shooting holograms in training or actual human beings, she seemed to have no qualms about it. This may be the fault of the source material, but the whole thing seriously smacks of protagonist-centered morality and selectively appearing mental issues.

I did not find there to be any significant character development of Katniss in this movie, although the movie was significantly less angsty than the book. So thumbs up for that.

Gale

Before anyone says anything, I totally call dibs on Liam Hemsworth.

Anyways. I was kind of disappointed that Gale’s family wasn’t in the movie at all, since there was this whole part about him and his mom supporting his siblings, but I do understand there wasn’t a whole lot of time in the movie. It’s not like it was handled very well in the book, so maybe it’s better that it was just left out.

I thought there was a really nice dissonance between how dirty and run-down Gale was and how clean and proper Katniss was, as shown when she hugged him after the victory tour. This was best shown as Gale was washing the coal dust off his hands while watching Peeta’s proposal to Katniss. It really signifies the rift between Gale and Katniss in a way that words could not have.

Again there was the issue with the fact that Gale was White as can be, but it’s not like we should’ve expected anything better from Hollywood. Gale is still the character through which most of the commentary on class is made, but again, most of the (not very subtle, since this is YA) class and race commentary was forfeited for the sake of flashy graphics and action.

Thankfully, besides a couple of very contrived kissing scenes, the love triangle was actually blissfully absent from this movie. I expect it will be back in full swing for movies three and four.

Peeta

All my hate, Peeta. All my hate.

While the rape subtext is not as prominent in this movie as it was in the last one, and not nearly as forceful as it was in the books, it’s definitely still there. Starting in movie one, Peeta has this insane plot to keep them alive that basically involves fucking with Katniss’s emotions regardless of what she wants. Everything would’ve been a thousand times better if Peeta had simply let Katniss in on his asinine plan, but no, we can’t have that.

I will give Josh Hutcherson this–he’s a very talented actor.

I don’t have much else to say about Peeta, at least without giving too many spoilers. I thought the “what about me, Katniss, what about my family?” moment was actually very nice, since in my mind it lampshaded the protagonist-centered morality prevalent throughout the book.

Effie

I love Effie. I really do. Elizabeth Banks is an awesome actress and does a fantastic job of portraying just how strained Effie really is. This movie is significantly better in its portrayal of Effie than the first one was, and much better than the book. In the book she’s relentlessly slut-shamed and shown as being shamefully fake.

Honestly, I think her outfits are the greatest.

Swagtastic.

Swagtastic.

The movie does a much better job of humanizing Effie and for that I’m glad.

Haymitch

Any hate I have left after hating Peeta goes to the treatment of Haymitch. Seriously, as one of the few characters with recognizable PTSD, it disgusts me that he can just turn his alcoholism on and off, since in real life that obviously would never happen. While he is shown drinking, he is no longer a drunken wreck of a man, but no allusions were made to his recovery. His treatment was, however, significantly worse in the first movie.

He’s not shown to have much development besides mysteriously giving up alcohol. There’s not much else to say about him, besides that Woody Harrelson is an awesome actor. I also liked that he was truly dedicated to helping Peeta and Katniss.

Cinna

One of two POC main characters in this movie, and he gets brutally murdered. There’s not much else to say.

The Old Guy Who Whistled

This was my absolute favorite scene in this movie and it moved me to tears; I thought it was truly beautiful. However, one of the few times a POC is shown as more than just an extra, he is, I repeat, brutally murdered.

(((Side note: I thought the rest of the Victory Tour sequence was actually kind of funny. You have Katniss and Peeta reading off the lines Effie wrote them with rubber smiles on their faces while the people riot below them. I honestly found it to be darkly hilarioius.)))

Beetee

One of two POC main characters in the movie (unless you count Enobaria and the Old Dude Who Whistled, in which case there are technically four) and the only one (again, unless you count Enobaria) who didn’t die painfully and brutally. I found the way his character was portrayed in the movie to be really interesting, actually. I imagined him to be a lot more twitchy and nervous, soft-spoken and sort of nerdy. Instead he was portrayed as confident, competent, and intelligent. So thumbs up for that.

Johanna

I love Johanna. Every scene featuring her was just that much more awesome. The elevator scene was hilarious–the look of disgust on Katniss’s face compared to the look of sheer joy on Peeta’s was one of my favorite parts of the movie.

I’m really interested to see how her character develops in the next movie. There was the whole “there’s no one left I love” bit after the jabberjays that I thought was really well done. She seemed to truly care for Finnick which I thought was nice. She was a very nice example of a strong, flawed female character.

The scene where she rescued Katniss from falling off the Cornucopia sort of rubbed me the wrong way, although that may be because I’m sort of biased against Katniss due to having read the books. It seemed sort of out of the blue and while it makes sense in context of the rescue plot, as far as I can remember Katniss never even thanked her (though I could be wrong).

Finnick

Sam Claflin is actually a great actor, which I didn’t expect. I thought he gave depth to the character that wasn’t really there in the original novel, and I’m interested to see how that depth carries over into Mockingjay. There’s not much else to say about him, but I really actually loved the way Finnick was portrayed.

Bonnie and Twill

were not present in the movie.

Seeder and Chaff

were basically Token Black Characters, which pissed me off. Did Seeder even get a line? There was this whole thing about how she let Katniss know Thresh and Rue’s families were okay. But whatever.

Any character or scene that I missed? Any thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

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