The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Movie Review + Australian Giveaway

Hey everyone! I hope you’re doing well? Kristy and I have gone out and seen Catching Fire (twice each - lucky! lol) and thought we’d post a movie review each for something a little bit different. We also have been lucky enough to announce a huge Australian only giveaway for some Hunger Games: Catching Fire prizes exclusively on Book Nerd Reviews thank you very much to Scholastic Australia! One lucky winner will be winning a prize pack valued at over $100 - see below for more details!

Kristy and I have tried to be as spoiler free as possible in our reviews, but caution if you’ve not read the book or seen the movie there could be some spoiler details below. Be warned! ;)


Kristy’s review:

Wow. Just wow! Catching Fire is one of the best movie adaptations I have seen - and I will say it, it is better than The Hunger Games!

Going into Catching Fire, I was a little skeptical. I was cynical about the director change (that rarely works), I didn’t like a certain casting, and let’s be honest, books are always better than the movies (well, 99.9% of the time). I am not going to go as far as saying this was better than the book - I don’t think that anything can take away the awesomeness that is reading The Hunger Games series, but this movie adaptation certainly exceeded my expectations.

Jennifer Lawrence is nothing short of astounding in her role as Katniss. This amazing young woman displays such complexities in her acting, and I find her mesmerising to watch. The look in her eyes, the shacking hands, lip or chin, the emotion in her voice, and even her “ugly cry” shows that she has undeniably embodied the character. I could easily go on and on about how utterly amazing Jennifer is, but I won’t - watch the movie, you will see! Although I wasn’t originally impressed with the casting of Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, after this movie, he had me liking his portrayal of Peeta with subtlety of emotions and dedication. Liam Hemsworth as Gale is one that I have always liked. He has a fantastic way of expressing emotion with his eyes - his unspoken love, his determination, his will to challenge the system - you get to see more of this in Catching Fire than in the original.

Another WOW is required for the supporting characters. I cannot emphasis enough how amazing the casting is for the supporting characters! There are times where these actors really steal the scene with their portrayal of their characters. I cannot decide who is best: Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland or Stanley Tucci - they are all utterly amazing! Elizabeth Banks portraying Effie Trinkett is exactly how I imagined her in the book - her flamboyance, her love for the Capitol, and eventually, her love for Katniss and Peeta. With some amazing costumes, some fantastic lines and just the right amount of emotion, Effie could not be portrayed better on film.

Lenny Kravitz as Cinna - now I will admit that this casting was one that I wasn’t impressed with in The Hunger Games. It’s not that I don’t like Lenny, I do, but he wasn’t “my Cinna”. In my mind, Cinna was far more flamboyant (although not in a Capital way), and I didn’t think that Lenny could portray this correctly. And guess what - he didn’t. Lenny gave me a whole new Cinna - his portrayal of a character that is more subdued, but still contains the essence of the Cinna that I love, his inner-determination and his compassion, but Lenny also provided me with a Cinna that was also very composed, and in control, and utterly dependable. And once again in Catching Fire, Lenny does a fantastic job of being Katniss’s grounding force, her support, her rock.

Donald Sutherland as President Snow - he is chilling. Donald Sutherland has a way of showing the maliciousness, the evilness, and the conniving nature of President Snow by being calm, creepy and completely composed at all times. There are times where he doesn’t have to say a word to give you chills - the look in his eyes is enough. Stanley Tuccy as Caesar Flickerman - I could not imagine a better Caesar. Stanley embodies the flamboyant, boisterous, exuberant, grand-standing and the completely “Capitol” nature of Caesar perfectly.

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy is another casting choice that I was originally sceptical about. But, he won me over, and even more so in Catching Fire. You get to see a lot more of his tormented but caring nature. Primrose Everdeen (Willow Sheilds) has clearly grown up, both physically and emotionally, and while her physical maturing may be off-putting to some, I think this emphasised her emotional maturing perfectly. You can see that she is has turned from a timid, shy little girl, into a strong, capable young lady. Paula Malcomson also showed displayed the characteristics of Katniss’s mother perfectly - she has grown stronger since The Hunger Games, but she still a broken woman.

There are also so many great new supporting characters/actors! Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee showed the right amount of seediness and smugness - especially with his dealings with both Katniss and President Snow. But for me, the shining stars where some of the Tributes. Jeffrey Write as Beetee portrayed an amazing amount of intelligence in his character while Amanda Plummer as Wiress portrayed the “crazy genius” character perfectly! The casting of Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair was the one that I was outraged about. He did not, in any way, fit my visualisation of Finnick, so I in no way expected to be impressed by him. And while he still not my Finnick, much like Lenny Kravitz did with Cinna, Sam gave me a new Finnick - and Sam certainly portrayed the role well. But, I think the two outstanding new characters/actors where Mags and Johanna. Mags is played by Lynn Cohen, who in my mind was utterly unbelievable! Although Mags doesn’t speak, Lynn Cohen portrayed her emotions and meanings with such grace and brilliance that you are able to connect to the character without her saying one word. The other stand out is Jena Malone as Johanna. Jena portrayed Johanna perfectly - this (understandably) angry and standoffish character is depicted with such believable conviction.

There are so many heart-wrenching moments in Catching Fire - Katniss’s struggle with having to go back into the arena, her emotion with the Victory Tour (especially when it comes to District 11, and facing Rue’s family), the death of certain characters, the event just before Katniss goes back into the arena, the confusion of knowing who the enemy is, her determination that Peeta should survive, and her confusion of being pulled out of the arena, and finding out what happened in District 12.

There were some things missing from the movie that were in the book, and most of them I can overlook. The main one that I missed was something surrounding Plutarch, but, when I sat down and thought about it, I understand why it was cut. I think it was an important part of the book, but I don’t think it could have been included in the movie, as it would have ruined the dramatic effect. So considering that, I can forgive that cut. There were also a few things that I thought could have been explained a little better - as for people who haven’t read the book, things may have lost their significance or caused confusion - non-spoilery examples are: they didn’t explain the Victors Village, explain the time lapse since the last Hunger Games, and they also included an Avox, but didn’t say explain them (as they didn’t in The Hunger Games).

I loved the continuity between The Hunger Games and Catching Fire - little things, such as the same music playing when displaying the Tributes in the sky, or the whistle that Katniss did with the mockingjays with Rue. Little things like that make a big difference. And they finally included the hovercrafts coming into the arena! (although these were not explained so it may cause confusion to those who haven’t read the book).

The special effects were fantastic - the fire was so much better than in the original movie, and all other effects were brilliantly done, such as the jabberjays, the fog, the spinning of the cornucopia, and the arena in general.

All in all, Catching Fire is a fantastic movie adaptation! Although some things were not included (probably for pacing of the movie), and I think they could have spent a little more time in the arena (although that would have made the movie too long), Catching Fire is far more emotional than The Hunger Games. I think on a whole it was executed brilliantly and there is an abundance of brilliant acting. I urge all The Hunger Games fan to see it! And all those who haven’t read the books to as well!!



Melissa’s review:

I’ve seen Catching Fire twice so far because I loved it so much the first time around! What an amazing experience. I loved The Hunger Games so much, but I am going to say it - I loved Catching Fire more. I think the thing that made this a better movie experience for me is that The Hunger Games was mostly about setting up the concept of the games, and there’s a certain amount of time spent explaining different concepts to the reader and viewer. Catching Fire then benefits from this because we know what the games are by this point, and so the movie can just focus on the characters, and it allows us to get more emotionally invested in them and so in turn, I found this movie to be a more emotional experience in general.

I actually love the casting - all of it really. Jennifer Lawrence is incredible - she is a brave actress and not afraid to go “ugly” when it comes to certain scenes - her face is so animated, and at times when she’s distraught or in shock, she doesn’t sensor her emotions, she goes right for it. And I felt a true authenticity from her when watching her portray Katniss. Not only does she embody Katniss, but she IS Katniss. I love Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth as Peeta and Gale - they were amazing in this movie. It was great to see Gale getting more than 10 minutes movie time as well! haha

What made this movie go from great to incredible for me though was the supporting cast. In particular, I am talking about Elizabeth Banks as Effie, Donald Sutherland as President Snow, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna and my favourite Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman. I need to stop and talk about each of them - because I feel like they were all good in The Hunger Games, but each of these actors stepped it up to a WHOLE new level for Catching Fire I felt.

Firstly Elizabeth Banks. Wow…. we saw a whole new side to Effie in Catching Fire. She really becomes Effie, and I loved her in the first movie, but I felt more connected to her in this movie. She shows a softer side to her in Catching Fire. The gestures of “something gold” for the whole team was beautiful and the tears in her eyes for Peeta and Katniss felt genuine. There was some really strong chemistry between these characters, and it’s the perfect example of good casting making a character.

Lenny Kravitz once again pulled of a great version of Cinna. And I was nearly in tears at THAT point of the movie (if you’ve read the book or watched the movie… you know!). Lenny Kravitz did the best job of Cinna that I felt he could have done, and there is some differences between the book version and movie version, but I actually really enjoy them both. I think Lenny Kravitz brings a new take on a character that we know really well. He’s more controlled and calm than the book version of Cinna, but I think this works really well. His nurturing of Katniss is so sweet, and their relationship is one that I really enjoyed from the start (in both films).

Donald Sutherland as President Snow is SPOT ON!!! How incredible is he?! Without words he can install fear in anyone. That scene, where he’s on the balcony at the party, toasting Katniss and Peeta on their engagement…. if looks could kill. He is Snow. I love when the villains are cast so well, because let’s be honest - this has the potential to make or break a movie. I don’t know anyone that has said they thought he did a bad job. I just think he’s so right for the role.

And finally of the main supporting characters, but certainly not least Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman. Is it just me, or was he even better in Catching Fire? He definitely had a bigger role, and didn’t have to share the commentary as much, which may have helped. But those little laughs he gives were absolutely epic, and had me giggling every time! I think his character adds a bit of humour to a movie that isn’t designed for a lot of laughs. And so those little moments make a huge difference. Fantastic.

I could go on and on, but I have to talk about the tributes a bit here. Because they got this so right. As a fan of the book, I felt they really sought out the right people for the role, and I was very content with the casting. Sam Claflin plays Finnick and this to me, was fantastic. He did the smug, smarmy part really well, but then was able to show a real vulnerability to himself that made us trust him and feel empathy for, which was just perfectly acted. And how good was Lynn Cohen who plays Mags?!!? No words are said, but we love her from the very beginning. She’s such a likeable character, and played in such a way that we really feel protective of her as well, and so there’s an immediate emotional character. Especially the way Haymitch (played by Woody Harrelson) says “She’s a lovely lady” in his defeated sad tone when talking about the other tributes. Jena Malone who plays Johanna deserves a very special mention for the elevator scene (one of my faves actually) and for her outburst on stage. Again - completely embodied Johanna. She was sensational. And Nuts and Bolts!!! How good was that casting too? Sorry guys… gushing I realise. It was really just very impressive all around.

Chilling moment that I wanted to mention was in district 11, when the old man whistles and does the hand signal for the first time. Goosebumps.

A few things lacked the detailed explanation that we get from the books, and my sentiments about this are the same as what Kristy has already mentioned (Can you tell we had a phone call discussion about this?! haha). But overall, I was blown away and would happily pay to see this again for a third time!

I’ll leave my review with one of my favourite quotes from the movie, and it’s based on the interaction between Peeta and Katniss and made me laugh, cause it’s so them:

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

Thanks to Scholastic Australia, we have an amazing The Hunger Games prize pack to giveaway!

The prize pack includes: The Hunger Games Adult Edition Boxed Set, Catching Fire Official Movie Companion plus a double pass to the movie (anywhere in Australia), valued at more than $100!! This competition is only open to Australian residents (sorry to our international followers). Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

The giveaway is open from right now through to December 10th as we want to give the winner a fair chance to go and redeem their movie tickets and see the film whilst it’s still playing! :) So get in quick as it’s only running for the next 2 weeks!

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What do you think?

  • Carolyn says:

    Great reviews by both of you on this movie. I have only seen Catching Fire once so far but will be seeing it again soon and I too absolutely loved it.

    I deliberately didn’t re-read Catching Fire before seeing the movie as I didn’t want to ruin the experience. Problem being that I can’t remember a lot of what went on in the arena but what I did remember was done really well.

    I thought that the casting as a whole was really good. The major roles were once again played to perfection and the majority of the minor roles were brilliant as well although I’m still not 100% sure about Sam Claflin as Finnick though.

    I remember making a comment at the end of the movie to a friend that there was no way that another certain actress could have pulled off those emotions like Jennifer Lawrence did. She did an amazing job.

    I recommend everyone going to see it, but also think that if you haven’t read the books, you may have a couple of issues understanding a few things as I know some people who had trouble with Hunger Games until I explained them.

  • I do think that Catching Fire lived up to my expectations. There were a lot that I didn’t remember from the book, but watching the movie, I saw the things that I remembered. JLaw was so awesome! She’s believable as Katniss. No one could ever play that role but her.

  • Nadine Wood says:

    Yes please luv these books xxxx

  • […] We also reviewed a movie this month with the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire […]

  • Jessica Lee says:

    Really hope i can win, i havent been able to see the movie yet! Even though i desperately want to, ive been too busy working and saving money :(

  • […] readers!! Melissa and I recently posted our review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie, where we were also hosting an Australian Giveaway for one lucky winner to win an amazing The […]

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