I know, I know, the film’s been out for two weeks all over the world, but India was a little late to catch the fire. Thankfully, it did, however late, but it did, and I was there at the cinema, ready at 9 AM to catch the first show of the morning and feel the goosebumps take over me! So what better way to relive the film than making note of all the top gooseflesh inducing moments, the moments that made you cry, made you smile, made you want to fist pump the air and the moments that made your jaws drop and made you want to do the three finger salute in solidarity with the characters.
[Warning: Book and Film SPOILERS ahead, tread with caution.]
1. The start of the film
Catching Fire begins with Katniss out in the woods as Gale comes up to her. She displays PTSD when she tries to hunt a bird and sees her arrow killing Marvel (tribute from the previous film) instead. Gale kisses Katniss as they return home. Katniss then visits Haymitch and wakes him up by pouring water on him (or in Haymitch’s words – by giving him pneumonia) as Peeta enters. Katniss then returns to her home where she finds President Snow in her study, who warns her of the consequences of hers actions.
Goosebumps factors – The scenes, the sequence of events and even the dialogue mirror the start of the book and the film sets off with a bang, telling the audience that this will indeed be a faithful adaptation.
2. The Tour Montage
Peeta and Katniss set off for their Victory tour and the first stop is District 11, where Katniss gets emotional after seeing Rue’s family. An older gentleman in the crowd then sings the mockingjay tune and raises his three fingers in salute which results in mayhem as the Peacekeepers drag the man out and shoot him, leaving Peeta and Katniss in absolute shock. The rest of the tour goes on with both Peeta and Katniss only reading from Effie’s prepared speeches as the scenes cut in between to show the growing dissent and Katniss getting nightmares on the train journeys.
Goosebumps factor – The scene in District 11 really gives the audience an indication of the dystopian setting of the world and how cruel and unjust the government is. The man’s shooting and Jennifer Lawrence’s subsequent trembling and fear make you cry out, literally, from all the emotions. The montage builds up the chaos of rebellion and really sets up the audience to hope for change.
3. Gale’s whipping
Katniss tries to convince Gale to run away with their families because of the unrest and impending threat, but with whispers of a rebellion brewing, Gale wants to stay and fight. At the same time, Peacekeeper forces enter District 12 and carry out raids, shutting down the Hob and rounding off anyone they think is dealing in illegal activities. Gale tackles a Peacekeeper, which earns him a whipping at the hands of Chief Peacekeeper Thread. Katniss, Haymitch and Peeta save Gale and take him back to Katniss’ home where a composed Prim takes over to heal him.
Goosebumps factor – Seeing any one receive a thrashing, especially at the hands of the Capitol is enough to evoke emotions from the audience, but when that person is our beloved Gale, it hurts even more. Katniss’ defiance was inacted perfectly by Jennifer Lawrence and made me want to fist pump the air and cheer our heroes on to take out the nasty Capitol. This scene still gives me goosebumps, even when I’m watching it in the trailer.
4. The Reaping
Just when you thought you were safe and sound the Capitol intervenes and wants to take you out. Even Effie gets emotional at the reaping as she puts her hand into the bowl to select the lone female tribute. Katniss and Peeta are whisked away as Prim calls out. Katniss doesn’t get a chance to say goodbye and she knows she’ll never see her family again.
Goosebumps factor – The thought that you have to walk into the jaws of death and never even get to say goodbye to the family you are leaving behind. I’m shaking here thinking about it.
5. The Old Victors become the New Tributes
The new tributes are introduced and the gorgeous and charming Finnick Odair (played to perfection by Sam Claflin) enters the screen and steals the show, as he offers Katniss a sugar cube. Johanna Mason (again played so well by Jena Malone) catches Haymitch, Katniss and Peeta in the elevator where she strips down to her bare essentials without raising an eyebrow. We meet the other tributes and watch them show off their strengths in the training center and voice their anger in the interviews. Finally, after seeing Katniss transform into a mockingjay, the tributes hold hands together in a show of camaraderie.
Goosebumps factors – You know you are only fooling yourself if you think Finnick’s appearance on screen didn’t make you swoon and raise your pulse. Katniss’ expressions when Chaff kisses her and when Johanna strips down in the elevator are priceless. The show of unison between the victors makes you want them to murder President Snow right then. The interview scenes with Peeta’s painting of Rue, which leads to an angry Katniss putting up an effigy of a dead man with the name “Seneca Crane” written on it, is chilling. Finally the moments when Caesar Flickerman is on screen, those are always awesome.
6. The Build-Up
Even before we enter the arena for the 75th Hunger Games, we have a few moments which are downright emotional and heartbreaking. Katniss and Peeta spend a few private moments together, now that they are friends and trust each other completely. Effie hugs Peeta and Katniss and gets upset when she says her goodbyes, Haymitch reminds Katniss of the real enemy and Cinna gets beaten up savagely as a helpless Katniss looks on from inside the capsule.
Goosebump factor – It’s the big send off to the death and everyone knows it, but no one can say it. Also, it is the last time we see Cinna, sobbing here you guys, sobbing uncontrollably.
7. The Arena
Once in the arena, new dangers emerge, allies are formed and sacrifices are made. Danger strikes again and again, in the forms of poisonous fog, scary monkey mutts, lightening, giant waves, blood rain, jabberjays and the career tributes. When Peeta hits the force field and loses consciousness, Finnick revives him as a desperate Katniss cries on, and when he collapses after the fog touches him, Mags throws herself into the fog so Finnick can carry him. They run into Johanna, Beetee and Wiress, whose constant mutter of “tick tock” makes Katniss realise that the arena is a clock and all the disasters happen at given times. Beetee then devises a plan to electrocute the other career tributes as Katniss grows weary of the three tagging along with her and Peeta.
Goosebump factors – The entire arena sequence, I’d say. The action is continuous and something or the other is constantly happening, propelling the film toward it’s climax. Noteworthy scenes include Mags’ sacrifice, a frantic Finnick saving Peter, “Tick Tock” and the moment when the cornucopia island spins to reset the clock, as they all hang on for life. A particularly heartwarming moment occurs when Peeta gives Katniss his locket which contains photographs of her mother, sister and Gale. They share an emotional conversation and a passionate kiss. These scenes were straight out of the book folks and filmed to perfection.
8. The Climax
As Beetee devises his plan and covers the lightening tree with his wire, he directs Katniss and Johanna to take the connecting thread to the beach and wants Peeta and Finnick to protect him. Katniss protests but leaves with Johanna and book readers soon realise that her last glimpse of Peeta is our last glimpse of him in this film. Things go wrong as Brutus and Enobaria emerge on the tails of the two girls and Johanna hits Katniss, taking out her tracking device. Katniss goes out to look for Peeta and finds an unconscious Beetee. She turns her bow and arrow on Finnick who reminds her of the real enemy, echoing Haymitch’s words and then the world comes crashing down.
Goosebumps factor – The epic moment when Katniss has her bow and arrow set on Finnick and he’s reminding her of the real enemy with President Snow watching them from the Control Room. Our hearts stop beating for a moment until Katniss finally takes out the force field enclosing the arena and gets blasted off her feet.
9. The Ending
When Katniss wakes up in the Hovercraft and discovers the true nature of the rebellion, she attacks Haymitch, calling him a liar as she learns that he failed to keep his promise to her and protect Peeta, who is now in the Capitol. The last scene of the film has Katniss wake up to Gale who tells her that District 12 was destroyed and they are now in District 13. Katniss becomes disheartened and then determined as she stares into the camera and the lights fade.
Goosebump factor – When Katniss is staring into the camera, her eyes burn with rage and fire as the screen fades to black. The mockingjay symbol then comes alive in preparation for the next film.
10. The music, the performances, the production
The book was pretty epic, so we all knew that if the film is faithful, it would be pretty epic too. But the ingredients that contribute to really giving you goosebumps all over, to make you cry and laugh and weep with joy or tremble in fear are things like the brilliant acting, the music score running in the background, the production values and Catching Fire achieves this all with a stellar cast, a beautiful score by James Newton Howard and great direction with Francis Lawrence, new to the franchise and who is also directing the final two Mockingjay films.
Catching Fire makes book fans believe that it is absolutely possible to make films that honour the books by being faithful to them. This is a particularly interesting point since most of the recent book adaptations that have been released have failed to make an impression and this has been attributed to the fact that they do veer off course of the material in the book. It’s really simple for filmmakers – if they want a hit film on their hands, they need to stay true to the books with all the moments, scenes and dialogues.
With Catching Fire ending in a cliffhanger, many fans will surely turn to the books to find out what happens next. For the big screen version, the wait is a little longer, as the first installment of Mockingjay is due for release on November 21, 2014.
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