Review by Brookelin Thorpe

Hunger Games: Catching Fire – or Katniss Still Inexplicably Makes Friends

The theme of the Hunger Games is artificial tragedy.

I’ve never properly understood why the Capitol is so set on keeping the other 12 districts poor. It’s not like they need the cheap labor – they can materialize any damned thing they want. Is it just to continue entertaining themselves with this one absurd game every year? What do they stand to gain?

I read a survey a while back where participants were asked to choose one of two options: they could make $100,000 a year and their neighbors would make $200,000 a year – or – they could make $50,000 a year and their neighbors would make $25,000 a year. Guess which option was more popular? In case you didn’t guess it, most people would rather receive half as much money if they knew that the people they were surrounded by were going to receive even less than them.

So, perhaps the point of the game is to have somebody you can feel better than.

Whatever the case, the result is a unique kind of conflict – one that is imposed just for its own sake. We have a world where rich, powerful viewers will mourn the loss of tributes while voluntarily executing them. Where it’s fun to show them everything they’ve been missing out on by being poor just before sending them to death row. And a world where stylists are important.


You make a compelling case, Mr. Kravitz.

That being said, scenes on the train and in the Capitol are an odd guilty pleasure. We know that the Capitol is evil. We know the excess is bad. But it is so much fun to watch. For fleeting moments, we live vicariously through the characters and their luxury train. How tempting it is to give in to grandeur.

In contrast, the scenes of brutality we find ourselves subjected to are compelling.

It is an appreciable quality that Collins refrained from making the complexity of this particular love triangle into something contrived and petty.

When Peeta watches over an injured Gale (Gale’s a boy’s name, we guess), there is no testosterone match where they both profess their undying love for the heroine and duke it out. They are just two humans who have compassion for one another’s pain.

You won’t find that in Twilight (she said, having never actually seen it).

All around, I loved this movie. I loved, loved, loved this movie. I’ve taken the liberty of providing you with a picture that was taken of me watching it.

Holy shit it’s intense.

No wonder the games are so popular in Panem because holy christ.

Poison fog, mad-ass baboons, and… water avalanches? Is that what I’m looking at here?

At one point Catching Fire takes a nose dive out of action flick territory and straight into horror. Those birds, man. Those goddamn birds. What the fuck? This is perhaps the most terrifying moment of the entire film. Screaming birds swooping down from every damned direction?

Did I mention that they were SCREAMING? Birds.

Oh, and the blood. The blood? Where did they get that blood, anyway? Was it poison blood, or was it just to fuck with their heads? Was it the blood of their fallen comrades? Because that would be some insane shit, but I don’t think a dozen human bodies together contain that much blood in them.

But from an objective sense, I didn’t buy into a lot of it. I just wasn’t convinced that all of Panem would fall for Katniss and Peeta’s little “we’re getting married” thing, and the part where the head game master said that when everybody started talking about the cake, they’d turn against Katniss, because they never actually talked about the goddamn cake. How are we supposed to be tricked if they don’t do any actual tricking?

And I also still don’t totally buy everybody going ape over Katniss. I mean, I like her, but I like standoffish people. On many occasions, I’ve had people straight up tell me I need to be more friendly because being unfriendly is a bad trait, not a good one. And as someone who is also a little cold, I can tell you first hand – it doesn’t make people like you.

What did Katniss ever do to be not just tolerable but a favorite? Sure she’s one hell of an archer. Sure she had a rocking costume (not done at all by her, and also who gives a fuck). Sure she’s (a little) funny. Sure she’s got guts. Sure she’s also compassionate. But all any of those things really means is that she is human.

You know who else is human? The other tributes.

Speaking of the tributes, you know who is also human and way cooler than Katniss? Fucking Peeta. Who is actually nice people.


Remember when he said, “…if it wasn’t for the baby,” and the entire theater erupted with laughter? That man is clever.

I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen a movie where the girl wasn’t good enough for the guy – and everybody admits to it. Which is weirdly amazing. We’ve moved on from doting on the princess to a place where she (in theory) has to try and better herself to be on his level. Maybe she isn’t the prize – he is.

I was pretty neutral about Peeta the first time around, but Catching Fire illuminates his impressive altruism. And I wanted him to live so much more than Katniss. Even though it’s not like I wanted her to die.

But maybe that’s what makes her more interesting to us in a dark sort of way. Not only is she not interested in being the hero (which we’ve seen a billion times), but she isn’t even interested in being good.

At the beginning, she decides she just wants to take her family and leave. Leave the rest to fend for themselves. And she is totally ok with being that way.

A few more lazy thoughts:

– There is a bizarre moment of humor at the reaping when they go through the motions of drawing a single name out of the female victor’s jar. Do we laugh? Is this funny?

– Why didn’t Haymitch just volunteer right off the bat? Do they have to wait until after a name is drawn to volunteer? What would be the point of that rule? And why can’t Haymitch insist? Is it like calling shotgun? I don’t want Peeta to die.

– How did the rebels know Katniss was going to shoot a goddamn arrow at the force field? They didn’t know that. They did not. Because that could have killed her and they went to all these great lengths to do specifically not that.

– How were the victors somehow not aware of the quarter quell at the beginning of the story, which we can assume has happened twice before at very predictable intervals?

– And how weird is it that this guy didn’t turn out to be a complete douche:

 

Our rating:

Hunger Games: Catching Fire – or Katniss Still Inexplicably Makes Friends

The theme of the Hunger Games is artificial tragedy.

I’ve never properly understood why the Capitol is so set on keeping the other 12 districts poor. It’s not like they need the cheap labor – they can materialize any damned thing they want. Is it just to continue entertaining themselves with this one absurd game every year? What do they stand to gain?

I read a survey a while back where participants were asked to choose one of two options: they could make $100,000 a year and their neighbors would make $200,000 a year – or – they could make $50,000 a year and their neighbors would make $25,000 a year. Guess which option was more popular? In case you didn’t guess it, most people would rather receive half as much money if they knew that the people they were surrounded by were going to receive even less than them.

So, perhaps the point of the game is to have somebody you can feel better than.

Whatever the case, the result is a unique kind of conflict – one that is imposed just for its own sake. We have a world where rich, powerful viewers will mourn the loss of tributes while voluntarily executing them. Where it’s fun to show them everything they’ve been missing out on by being poor just before sending them to death row. And a world where stylists are important.


You make a compelling case, Mr. Kravitz.

That being said, scenes on the train and in the Capitol are an odd guilty pleasure. We know that the Capitol is evil. We know the excess is bad. But it is so much fun to watch. For fleeting moments, we live vicariously through the characters and their luxury train. How tempting it is to give in to grandeur.

In contrast, the scenes of brutality we find ourselves subjected to are compelling.

It is an appreciable quality that Collins refrained from making the complexity of this particular love triangle into something contrived and petty.

When Peeta watches over an injured Gale (Gale’s a boy’s name, we guess), there is no testosterone match where they both profess their undying love for the heroine and duke it out. They are just two humans who have compassion for one another’s pain.

You won’t find that in Twilight (she said, having never actually seen it).

All around, I loved this movie. I loved, loved, loved this movie. I’ve taken the liberty of providing you with a picture that was taken of me watching it.

Holy shit it’s intense.

No wonder the games are so popular in Panem because holy christ.

Poison fog, mad-ass baboons, and… water avalanches? Is that what I’m looking at here?

At one point Catching Fire takes a nose dive out of action flick territory and straight into horror. Those birds, man. Those goddamn birds. What the fuck? This is perhaps the most terrifying moment of the entire film. Screaming birds swooping down from every damned direction?

Did I mention that they were SCREAMING? Birds.

Oh, and the blood. The blood? Where did they get that blood, anyway? Was it poison blood, or was it just to fuck with their heads? Was it the blood of their fallen comrades? Because that would be some insane shit, but I don’t think a dozen human bodies together contain that much blood in them.

But from an objective sense, I didn’t buy into a lot of it. I just wasn’t convinced that all of Panem would fall for Katniss and Peeta’s little “we’re getting married” thing, and the part where the head game master said that when everybody started talking about the cake, they’d turn against Katniss, because they never actually talked about the goddamn cake. How are we supposed to be tricked if they don’t do any actual tricking?

And I also still don’t totally buy everybody going ape over Katniss. I mean, I like her, but I like standoffish people. On many occasions, I’ve had people straight up tell me I need to be more friendly because being unfriendly is a bad trait, not a good one. And as someone who is also a little cold, I can tell you first hand – it doesn’t make people like you.

What did Katniss ever do to be not just tolerable but a favorite? Sure she’s one hell of an archer. Sure she had a rocking costume (not done at all by her, and also who gives a fuck). Sure she’s (a little) funny. Sure she’s got guts. Sure she’s also compassionate. But all any of those things really means is that she is human.

You know who else is human? The other tributes.

Speaking of the tributes, you know who is also human and way cooler than Katniss? Fucking Peeta. Who is actually nice people.


Remember when he said, “…if it wasn’t for the baby,” and the entire theater erupted with laughter? That man is clever.

I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen a movie where the girl wasn’t good enough for the guy – and everybody admits to it. Which is weirdly amazing. We’ve moved on from doting on the princess to a place where she (in theory) has to try and better herself to be on his level. Maybe she isn’t the prize – he is.

I was pretty neutral about Peeta the first time around, but Catching Fire illuminates his impressive altruism. And I wanted him to live so much more than Katniss. Even though it’s not like I wanted her to die.

But maybe that’s what makes her more interesting to us in a dark sort of way. Not only is she not interested in being the hero (which we’ve seen a billion times), but she isn’t even interested in being good.

At the beginning, she decides she just wants to take her family and leave. Leave the rest to fend for themselves. And she is totally ok with being that way.

A few more lazy thoughts:

– There is a bizarre moment of humor at the reaping when they go through the motions of drawing a single name out of the female victor’s jar. Do we laugh? Is this funny?

– Why didn’t Haymitch just volunteer right off the bat? Do they have to wait until after a name is drawn to volunteer? What would be the point of that rule? And why can’t Haymitch insist? Is it like calling shotgun? I don’t want Peeta to die.

– How did the rebels know Katniss was going to shoot a goddamn arrow at the force field? They didn’t know that. They did not. Because that could have killed her and they went to all these great lengths to do specifically not that.

– How were the victors somehow not aware of the quarter quell at the beginning of the story, which we can assume has happened twice before at very predictable intervals?

– And how weird is it that this guy didn’t turn out to be a complete douche:

 

Our rating:

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