The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
This film changed everything!’ CATHERINE AIREY is back. And this time she is here to explain why everyone in Cambridge must see The Hunger Games. EVERYONE.
Disclosure: I have the worst taste in films. I mean, really, really terrible.
I’m yet to meet anyone else who thinks Pearl Harbor is the best film of all time ever. But I promise I wasn’t the only person in the cinema reeling when the credits rolled along to Coldplay’s new song ‘Atlas’. We were all shaken from two and a half hours of Hunger Games excitement and the thought of venturing outside into the real world (and the Grafton’s about as real as it gets in Cambridge) was daunting. How could I justify my comfortable student life while Katniss, the Girl on Fire, had just fought for her life in the Hunger Games yet again?
My life has been changed. I might need help to process all these feelings.
Watching the first Hunger Games film made me want to be Katniss Everdeen. Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar speech made me want to be Jennifer Lawrence. I’ve been striving for a balance between the two – I’m not a famous film star, but neither am I an impoverished resident of District Twelve having to hunt for my food on a daily basis. My hair’s midway between brunette and blonde, and mid-length between Katniss’ long locks and Jennifer’s new pixie crop. Jennifer’s twenty-three, Katniss is seventeen, and I’m twenty, mid-way between the two. That can’t be a coincidence! I literally am Jennifer Everdeen. Or does Katniss Lawrence sound cooler?
Basically, I’ve been rocking this look for a while now. I won’t deny it, I’m a bit surprised I haven’t been approached by any film producers yet. But maybe I haven’t made it clear enough that I’m ready to drop all this Cambridge crap and fully commit to my new role. I’ve booked a meeting with my tutor.
But this film changed everything! I no longer want to be Katniss Everdeen. Don’t get me wrong. She’s still totes cool and super sexy and her favourite colour’s green and since my favourite colour’s also green it obviously follows that I’m sexy and cool too. But Katniss’ life is seriously shit. She has to fight in the Hunger Games, again. And this time everyone else in there has won the Hunger Games before; they’re all brutal killers, and they’re all fucked up because of what they’ve had to do. Also, two guys are in love with her, and she doesn’t know what to do because she has awesome kisses with both of them so she’s really torn. And she has to pretend to be pregnant, and married, and go and visit all the families of the children she killed. That’s a lot to take on at seventeen.
Then there’s the fact that I found myself betraying Katniss/Jennifer a little bit. In the first film, she was hands down the coolest girl around. But in Catching Fire she’s outshone by Jena Malone who plays Johanna Mason (just putting it out there, it must mean something that they have the same initials). She’s sexier than Katniss and more bad-ass. She gets naked in a lift and carries a really awesome axe thing, and you think she’s totally evil at first but she’s actually uber complicated and at one point she’s covered in blood whereas Katniss just gets gross gas burns.
And I adored Effie (played by Elizabeth Banks) second time round. She was pretty one-dimensional in the first instalment – a vacuous product of the Capitol with mental dress-sense who fails to see how objectionable the Games are. But the Effie we see here is so much more than that. Gradually she crumbles as she realises Katniss and Peeta are going to die, that she’s implicated in the deaths of innocent people. Notice her best outfit yet at the Reaping ceremony – a dress made of hundreds of brown butterflies which look like fallen leaves. Pink and fluffy is so last season.
The way the film got around swearing was also enjoyable. This is an adaptation of a children’s book, after all. New fave character Johanna goes off on one during a TV interview and her expletives are bleeped out – meta. And when Finnick submerges himself in a lake to relieve his burns he’s half way through shouting ‘FUCK’ when his mouth goes underwater. ‘Bitch’ is left in; it hasn’t needed to be censored since Molly Weasley. While it’s on my mind, there’s not even one good kiss in the Harry Potter films, but Katniss masters loads of them. There are so many levels at play. J-Law playing Katniss, playing Katniss-in-love-with-Peeta for the Capitol cameras. Her version of a bad kiss is better than Harry and Cho under the mistletoe.
Catching Fire is a truly moving and true-to-the-book adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ bestseller. If I’m honest, I was more harrowed by the film version than the book. I knew exactly what was going to happen but I was still on the edge of my seat throughout. I always need to go to the toilet during a film. But I held it in for Katniss. If she could go into that arena again, I could control my bladder. We suffered as one. Everyone at Cambridge should see or read The Hunger Games. Shit gets real in Panem, while the most we have to worry about on a day-to-day basis is whether we have any overdue library books.