Catching Fire is the sequel to The Hunger Games adapted from the novels by Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games ended with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) both winning the games. They convinced all the viewers they were in love and as the last two surviving tributes they chose to commit suicide instead of killing each other. They were prevented from doing it (Teenage Suicide, Don’t Do It! It’s a Heathers thing) so instead of having no winners, which would have been bad for morale, they were ruled to have both won.
This movie picks up shortly after Katniss and Peeta’s return to District 12 and are about to go on their victory tour. Katniss’ suicidal defiance in the games has become a symbol of hope and rebellion for all the Districts. President Snow (Donald Sutherland) needs Katniss to convince the Districts of her and Peeta’s love in the hopes of quelling rebellion or Snow will kill Katniss and everyone she cares about. Katniss fails but Snow cant kill a beloved Hunger Games victor directly and he wants to hurt her politically by getting the Districts to hate her. He sets up a 75th anniversary Hunger Games where all the tributes are chosen from past victors forcing Katniss to compete again. And this time all her competitors are experienced victors.
Catching Fire follows the story of The Hunger Games very closely, essentially being the same story with subtle differences — the end being a cliffhanger leading into the third story, broken into two(!) parts for film, Mockingjay. The middle bits are almost identical but, just like I said for Thor, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as long as it is entertaining. Once the tributes are chosen, there is a little training, then off to the games.
Catching Fire does not have any supporting character with the emotional significance of Rue from the first film but there is more time showing the personalities of tributes whom Katniss allies with. We don’t know if they’re on her side but since the film spends a large part of the movie in the games we get a better feeling for characters besides Katniss. She never fully trusts the dashing (and knows it) Finnick (Sam Claflin), who is Katniss’s constant companion throughout the games. His story is similar to hers but he’s much more sympathetic. We want to trust him but everyone knows there can only be one. On the other end there’s Johanna (Jena Malone) who seems out to antagonize everyone. Competing in the games does something to you and some people just can’t hide it.
While I liked each successive book in the series less, I liked the film Catching Fire at least the same if not more than the original. I was told before I saw About Time that I would cry but I didn’t shed a tear. I did in Catching Fire but possibly because I read the books. I’m not sure the emotion I felt was properly expressed in the film because I already had that groundwork and the adaptation is quite faithful.