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Film Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I recently saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire starring Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair), Donald Sutherland (President Snow) and Jena Malone (Johanna Mason) and I posted my full Film Review: The Hunger Game: Catching Fire in my other blog, In The Mood For Movies, where I post my general movie reviews (of the movies I've seen in theaters).

Speaking of Jena Malone, check out these two interesting articles about her Johanna Mason character. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Johanna Mason and How Jena Malone Got Away With Two F-Bombs In "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Here are parts of my spoiler-filled review of this film (Note: please don't click to read any further if you haven't seen it and don't want to be spoiled. If you have...by all means proceed and read at your own leisure)...
starring Jennifer LawrenceJosh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Sam ClaflinDonald Sutherland and Jena Malone

or watch the Final Trailer for Catching Fire below...

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a "Victor's Tour" of the districts.  Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.

While I've followed this movie (and had been blogging about it here in this P&P blog: tag - mostly posting the Jena Malone and Donald Sutherland related news) as it was being made much more closely than the first movie and had read the second book prior to seeing it. I was really excited to go and see this movie, even with all the hype and media blitz surrounding this film, it didn't ruin my anticipation and excitement of seeing this film. Not too mention, Jena Malone (and other new actors cast to play new characters in this sequel) joining the already established and amazing returning cast from the first movie got me more excited. I love Jena Malone! I thought she's an underrated and versatile character actress since I first saw her in Stepmom and Bastard Out of Carolina when she was younger and a child actress. Then, I've seen some of her TV and film work such as Saved!, Pride & Prejudice, Sucker Punch, Hatfields & McCoys, and the YouTube 3-episode series Dakota (where she played the title character) to name a few. I got excited when Jena was cast as Johanna Mason. I've heard about the character being a fan favorite from the The Hunger Games trilogy book fans even before I've read the second (Catching Fire) book. When I finally read the book, I understood why. The character's very interesting and complex at the same time. When Jena was first rumored for the casting of Johanna Mason, I most certainly had hope she would be cast as seeing her previous recent work (as Nancy McCoy in History's Hatfields & McCoys), I knew she will be amazing in the part. She's a great and experienced actress and I knew she will not disappoint. More on Jena Malone as Johanna Mason in a bit...

But first...

[Warning! ... for those who haven't seen this movie and don't want to be spoiled...]

This movie was great. I loved that it stayed faithful and close to the book (for the most part) with minor omitted scenes and slight alterations on dialogues (as about 75-80% were taken straight) from the book, which if I hadn't go back and re-read certain chapters from the book (since I've only read the book once prior to seeing this movie), I wouldn't have noticed. I didn't mind that they slightly changed or switched one character's line for another character. There were a couple scenes from the book that I wanted to see in the film that were not shown...perhaps they'll be on the deleted scenes? (I hope so). Other than those, this film was very true to the book. The ensemble cast was equally great especially the new additional cast/actors playing the new supporting characters such as Jena Malone as Johanna Mason, Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair, Jeffrey Wright as Beete, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee to name a few. The action scenes and special effects in the arena were great. The special effects on the spinning cornucopia was pretty good. The jabberjay birds and the fog poison were quite intense! Also, the mocking jay mimic scene was interesting. Great direction by Francis Lawrence, who took over and replaced the first movie, The Hunger Games director Gary Ross.

The returning cast/characters...
Jennifer Lawrence as the main lead character Katniss Everdeen was great, as usual. I love her as Katniss Everdeen (since the first movie) and I'm always impressed by Miss Lawrence's great acting in some movies I've seen her in...thus far including the first two The Hunger Games/Catching Fire films, X-Men: First Class, and especially her independent films (The Burning Plain, Winter's Bone, and The Poker House to name a few). Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark was even better and more interesting in this sequel...And Donald Sutherland as President Snow was great and appeared more in this sequel than the first. He was menacing and scary. Loved his first scene with Katniss at the beginning when he visited her home (at the victors' village at District 12) and told her "don't lie to me. You promised" (in an angry tone) and to "convinced" him about her pretend romance to Peeta. Also, his random scenes with his adorable granddaughter were cute and funny...we could see a bit of Snow's softer side when he's with his granddaughter.

New Cast/Characters...
Jena Malone as Johanna Mason was brilliant and amazing! She was a great addition for this film. I'd say kudos to the casting director for casting her in this character. Miss Malone was spot on and nailed her character perfectly. She did a fantastic job playing Johanna Mason and her portrayal of the character was so much more than I expected. I loved and enjoyed watching her character in this film. She was a scene stealer (even overshadowed the main star Jennifer Lawrence in few key moments they appeared together) and one of the best things about this film. Though her screen time was limited (similar in the book...I think she'll have more part in the next two films!), but she was great in every scene she appeared in. I'm very glad the marketing and promos for this film didn't show much of her nor did they spoil or ruin (the element of surprise of) her big moments in the film as both her introduction in the elevator scene with Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch and her Quarter Quell interview were pleasant surprises (even though I've read them, but visually I was looking forward to how Jena will portray her character Johanna in those scenes in the movie), randomly hilarious and memorable scenes. They were easily my favorite scenes in this movie and I can still remember after the film ended and long after the end credits roll. These scenes too got the most LOL, cheered, and big reaction from the audience! Johanna's lines were memorable too. I loved the way she says, "What? They can't hurt me. There's no one left I love," to Katniss, Finnick, Peeta, and Beete. Also, I love when she said, "love is weird," and "let's go lovebirds!" (to Katniss & Peeta, lol). Though, it's interesting one of her best lines in the book was not used in this film. At least, I don't think or remember hearing her say (I'll have to see this movie again just to see if she did...update: I've seen this movie again with another friend...this time on IMAX and nope she didn't say it.) "I don't care if you're knocked up, I'll rip your throat out." Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair was another great addition to this wonderful film. He's handsome for sure, but he was pretty good in his part. He was charismatic and charming as Finnick.

Read my full Film Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.


  1. The first one still seems a bit better in my eyes, but this one still keeps the story moving along at a fine pace. Good review.


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