My Feels for The Hunger Games Are REAL: My THG Reread & Mockingjay Part 2 Review

*Warning: Spoilers!*

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I’m really glad I decided to pick up this series again in preparation for the last movie (so sad!). When I read the trilogy for the first time in 2012, none of the movies had come out yet (though they had been cast). My only spoiler was that I had heard one of the male characters died, and I was so worried the whole time it was going to be Peeta (I realized later the reference was to Finnick). I adored him and wanted what was best for him, so I spent all of Mockingjay SO STRESSED. But this time, I was able to appreciate Katniss’ journey even more (though I liked her a lot in my first read too, obviously, since I named my blog after her)..

The first read of the series, for me, was all about the characters. This second time around, it was about the overall story, particularly its themes of war and PTSD.

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In my initial read, The Hunger Games was my favorite read of the trilogy. After rereading, I think Catching Fire might actually be my new favorite, but I will not deny that this is most likely influenced by the movie, as it is also my favorite of the movies (which I can say for certain now that I have seen Mockingjay Part Two). The nice thing about Catching Fire is that we already know the main characters and the world, but we get some new secondary characters and we delve deeper into what leads to the rebellion. Also, Katniss’s interactions with Peeta are more genuine.

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The first time I read Mockingjay, I pretty much hated it until the last page before the epilogue. The pacing seemed off and I was so concerned about poor Peeta’s state. This time, I was more relaxed and able to appreciate the book more, but at the end I was amazed that despite the fact that Katniss and Peeta end up together and even have a family, the whole thing still feels downright tragic. Not in a hopeless way, otherwise I wouldn’t care for these books the same way, but she loses her sister, her mother, her best friend, basically loses her mentor, and several others in her life – some through death and some due to purposeful distance (or in the case of Haymitch, he continues to lose himself to the bottle). No one comes out of this in good shape, and that’s scary. But sometimes, that’s real life. But we see that good can still come out of it.

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I know not everyone loved the first Mockingjay movie, but I have a deep appreciation for it, and my feelings are the same for the second one. They’re hard movies because we see Katniss struggling so much, see the dirty underbelly of war, see the horrors of manipulation and PTSD. And I appreciated some of the changes they made in the films, few as they were.

In the final Mockingjay installment, we get a little more closure with Effie. Haymitch seems to be in at least a slighter better state than he did in the book. And in the scene where Katniss asks Gale about the bombs, you know with certainty when she says, “Goodbye Gale,” she means goodbye forever. That hit me much harder than his sudden disappearance in the book.

And after everything has gone down and she returns to Twelve, we get the scene with Buttercup and then we see little flashes of her starting her life over again. I actually would have liked more of this, but the movie was already bordering on too long of an ending (due to staying faithful to the book in so many ways, I might add) so I forgive it. Katniss hunts, Peeta returns, and they start to spend time together. And at the very end they have apparently ended up in the same house, because she leaves her bed to come into his room to crawl into bed with him. I was a little sad we didn’t get one more kiss when she finally admits she loves him, but it was sweet nonetheless.

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Neither the books nor the movies pulled any punches, but I think that is a large reason why this is a story that will continue to endure. It carries themes and warnings that we can all take to heart.

What are your thoughts on the last Hunger Games movie, or the books and movies in general?

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My Rankings of 2013 Movies Seen

Very surprisingly, I have only seen 10 new releases from 2013, 9 in theater and only one outside the theater (usually, I would have rented all the summer movies I missed by now!). This isn’t due to a lack of interest so much as a lack of time, and then  forgetting to hit up Redbox for rentals (because I’m lame and don’t have Netflix yet. One day I’ll cave). Because of this, I have yet to see several movies I was anticipating this year or later became interested in, including, most notably, The Book Thief and the second installment of The Hobbit. So all this being said, this is based solely on what I have actually seen so far, and I certainly intend to see more.

Out of the nine 2013 movies I watched, I gave 1 at 4.5 star rating,  6 of them 4 star ratings, and two 3 star ratings. The one I did not review I would say is a 3 star movie, which I do elaborate on later. Also, I have included what number the movie ranked on my most anticipated movies of 2013 list I created last March. Titles link to my reviews. On with the rankings!

1. Catching Fire

catching-fire-comic-con-trailerI was so excited for this movie so much that I made a  list of my Top 10 Anticipations for the movie. And I looooooved this movie! It was a definite improvement over the first installment of The Hunger Games movie franchise, and I cannot wait to see it again!

Ranked #2 among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

2. Star Trek: Into Darkness

startrekThere are a few things in this movie that bother me more in hindsight than they did while I was watching it, but… I still love the movie overall. So many feels. Many tears shed. And there were truly a lot of great moments. Not to mention what JJ has done to bring in new fans into the franchise. Have I mentioned you should seriously watch some older Star Trek? Because you really ought to.

Ranked #3 among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

3. Iron Man 3

IRON MAN 3I know a lot of people did not love the third Iron Man movie, but something about it resonated with me. Tony was more real to me, the twist of the villain truly surprised me, and oh yeah, he goes to Tennessee (where I live! Except the TN parts were actually filmed in North Carolina. Boo hiss. But anyway…)! Look, it’s an Avengers movie, not Oscar material. Enjoy it for what it is.

Ranked #4 among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

4. Monsters University

mike-monstersUI was anxious about a prequel to my favorite Pixar movie, afraid that it would get the dreaded Disney sequel treatment, but I found that this story was great in its own right, as well as providing us additional insight to the characters we already knew! Again, it’s fairly light, but has a message that I think is actually very relevant for kids and adults alike, that you can’t necessarily do anything you want, but if you work hard, you’ll find your place!

Ranked #7 among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

5. Thor: The Dark World

thor-2Thor’s second movie proved to be another fun and interesting exploration into the Marvel universe as well as Thor’s. And though I’ve never considered myself a Loki fan, he completely stole the show in this movie.

Ranked #6 among my most anticipated movies of 2013

6. Ender’s Game

enders_game_movie-wideI really enjoyed this adaptation quite a bit, but it was just too short and everything felt too fast. It left me wanting more, but thankfully, everything it did show looked really good and felt true to the book.

Ranked as an honorable mention among my most anticipated movies of 2013

7. Man of Steel

manofsteelThis was a movie that I really enjoyed when I watched it, but I have forgotten about a lot since my viewing of it. I loved all the flashback stuff about Clark Kent growing up. I hated the all the freaking property damage that was caused by Superman and Zod’s battle over who is more indestructible. This movie was considerably better than the 2006 Superman Returns, but Superman still doesn’t have the same impact on me as Batman does.

Ranked #8 among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

8. The Wolverine

the-wolverineIf I was ranking these movies more objectively and less subjectively, this would be lower on the list. But I had fairly low expectations for this movie and they slightly exceeded them, mostly in the stinger scene but oh well. It was pretty fun. Some of it lacked logic and it bothered me that the evil villain lady looked like a Poison Ivy wanna-be but… whatever. It wasn’t as good as X-Men: First Class, but probably better than the other X-Men movies.

Ranked as an honorable mention among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

9. Oblivion

oblivion-shipThis movie was undoubtedly my biggest disappointment for movies in 2013. The trailer led me to believe that this was the most awesome, epic sci-fi dystopia story EVER and it just fell way short of what I expected. Overall though, it was still a pretty decent movie, which is why I rated it 3 stars, but I had so many problems with it. Why weren’t you EPIC, Oblivion?!

Ranked #1 among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

10. World War Z

world_war_zI never would have seen this movie if it had been left entirely up to me, but I was with a group and decided to keep an open mind. Despite the fact that it’s on the bottom of my list, I didn’t hate this movie at all. In fact, since I had low expectations for it, I almost enjoyed it. I say almost because 1.) This isn’t exactly a fun movie and the subject matter is pretty dark and 2.) I don’t have a desire to re-watch it. The funny thing is though, I am almost interested in reading the book, because from my understanding it delves more into the parts of the movie that were lightly skimmed over that I think would be fascinating to explore (i.e. more about the nature of world politics that happens rather and less of Greasy Haired Brad Pitt running away from zombies). Needless to say, putting this movie at the bottom of the list is not at all meant as a diss for a movie I had zero interest in seeing, and though I never reviewed it, I would give this movie a rating of 3 stars. I liked it alright.

Not ranked among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

What were your favorite movies of 2013?

Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire was one of my anticipated movies of 2013. And it really delivered for me. Before I fangirl on (and give just a few small complaints) let me warn that this review is filled with spoilers for the book and for the differences between the  book and the movie.

katniss_peeta_catching_fireOverall, I felt that Catching Fire was a better adaptation in being true to the book, and just a better movie overall than The Hunger Games. I think what director Francis Lawrence and the screenwriters, Simon Beaufoy Michael Arndt, who were all new to the franchise, did with the material in Catching Fire was truly highlight its best elements and magnified them in this visual adaptation of the story. And if nothing else, the recasting of Buttercup was spot on…

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I kid… sort of… kind of… not really. Come on Gary Ross, you couldn’t find an orange cat?!

But I digress…

The story starts off much like the book, with Katniss before the start of the Victory tour, though in order to help consolidate the storyline, they also make this the time that Gale kisses Katniss saying that he had to do “at least once.” Somehow President Snow knows about the kiss approximately 5-10 minutes later, but I guess we has spies and cameras everywhere so I am willing to let it go. Katniss and Peeta are cold towards each other but when the cameras turn on, they turn on the charm. Like the book, Peeta does slip on the ice and Katniss tumbles over him and kisses him. Peeta says Katniss does a good job faking it… that it almost felt like a real kiss. Which leads me to…

katniss-everdeen-y-u-no-love-peetaI forgot how frustrating this was in the book! Instantly I want to yell at Katniss, “Just love him! He’s the sweetest person you’ll ever know! LOVE HIM!!!!!” Which leads me to my biggest pet peeve of the movie…

GALE.

First off, let me say that Liam Hemsworth did like 10,000 times better as Gale in this movie, meaning that he actually came off as likable instead of dopey. I credit this to Hemsworth, the writers, and the director. THANK YOU ALL.

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Hunger Games Gale = lame Gale.

Second off, it’s not really Gale I have a problem with, it’s Katniss AND Gale. For some reason, they decided to make Katniss like Gale as more than a friend instead of being truly confused about it all.

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Catching Fire Gale = better Gale. But back off of Katniss!

Book quote:

His voice drops to a whisper. “I love you.”

…I never see these things coming. They happen too fast. One second you’re proposing an escape plan and the next… you’re expected to deal with something like this. I come up with must be the worst possible response. “I know.”

Movie quote:

“Do you love me?”

“Gale, you know how I feel about you.”

No Katniss, he doesn’t, neither do we, neither do you! I was almost willing to accept this, but then they decided to add an extra scene where right before the reaping, Katniss kisses Gale just because. Not because he kissed her first, and not because he just got whipped nearly to death, the two kisses that happened in the book and I completely accept, but an extra one where she acts like it’s because they’re dating.

NO. NO. NO.

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

Save those dang kisses for Mockinjay where they belong. But thankfully, the kissing with Peeta in this movie was also WAY better in this movie than in The Hunger Games.

I promise I care about more than the kissing and will move on in a minute…

Catching Fire is a critical point in the Peeta and Katniss’ love story. In all the time they spend together and Peeta is nothing but genuine and loving towards Katniss, she starts to feel a little something. And when she thinks she’s lost him forever in the arena, Jennifer did such a great job portraying how much Katniss suddenly cared in that moment. And then when they’re on the beach, and she tells him she needs him, and kisses him for real. That was great. I wish we could have gotten just a little more of them before they went back to the arena (like my fave scene in the book – the rooftop!), but still, it was all still way better in this movie than the cave stuff in the last one.

peeta-katniss-beachSomething else I loved in this movie: Johanna Mason.

catching-fire-johannaAs far as I’m concerned, when it came to the other tributes, Jena Malone as Johanna stole the show. She was angry, she was vengeful, but she also stuck with the plan. The way she cursed President Snow, her sly looks as took off her outfit in the elevator (Jennifer Lawrence deserves an Oscar just for her face in that scene – priceless!), and her whole attitude was spot-on for me. I wanted more of her. I can’t wait to see more of her!

And then there was Finnick…

finnickMy one complaint with Finnick is that in the book, he comes off way creepy and I had to warm up to him like Katniss had to. But just the same, I enjoyed him in the movie and how Sam Clafin portrayed him.

Other minor characters who I felt really shone: Caesar of course (Stanley Tucci does him so perfectly – I just love it!), Effie, and Haymitch. All fabulous and even better in this movie than the last (and they were all great in the last one too)! You can see how much Haymitch and especially Effie have grown since the last movie. And President Snow was as chilling as ever.

Catching-Fire-Image-Plutarch-SnowBut let’s talk about Plutarch. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a great actor who can be way creepy (see: Mission Impossible 3), and I felt like he was extremely under-utilized in this movie. One detail from the book that I wish they would have left in the movie (and that literally would have taken five seconds) was Plutarch showing Katniss his Mockingjay watch. As it was, his conversation with her at the Capitol party felt so flat and no where near as impactful as it was in the book, which just seemed crazy with Phillip and Jennifer both being so talented. I blame the writing, which again, was usually spot on, but something about that moment in that scene just didn’t do a lot for the story to me. Though I will say Plutarch’s interactions with Snow were pretty good, even more dynamic than the interactions between Seneca and Snow in the last movie.

Beetee… jury’s still out. I like Jeffrey Wright in Source Code, and I thought he did fine here. I guess I wanted more but at the same time, the arena stuff in the movie couldn’t play out as much as it did in the book, and he didn’t have a lot to do anyway. Hopefully we’ll see really good things from him in the Mockingjay movies.

And Cinna? There wasn’t enough! And then when they beat him…

*cries*

Let’s move on…

More things I love: Prim’s go-get-em attitude, Peeta telling everyone about “the baby” (and Haymitch’s reaction, amazing, but sad they left out Finnick’s line about hormones!), did I mention Effie and Caesar?, and the AMAZING wedding dress turned Mockingjay dress…

katniss-weddingdressOverall, Catching Fire delivered all the feelings I wanted and expected. It delivered a lot more lines from the book. It delivered all the tension and danger of the forthcoming revolution (District 11 scene *cries*). It delivered Katniss’ struggle with PTSD and resistance to being a symbol. It was filled with amazing moments that left satisfied and ready for Mockinjay! Though Mockingjay was my least favorite book of the trilogy I believe that if we have the same team working on it as Catching Fire, those two movies can really be powerful and awesome. For being quite possibly my favorite 2013 release, and for being an amazing adaptation, but with points knocked off for the extra Gale kiss (boo) and a couple of other nitpicky things, Catching Fire gets 4.5 stars from me.

4-5stars-editSee related: My Top 10 Anticipations for Catching Fire

What are your thoughts on Catching Fire? 

Movie Trailer Round-Up!

I’m excited about several movies coming out this month: Ender’s Game, The Book Thief, Thor 2, and Catching Fire, and I’m also excited for some other upcoming movies that recently released trailers. But first, the final Catching Fire trailer…

So excited! I’m still firm in my belief it’s going to be better than the first movie. Then Captain America: The Winter Soldier…

Captain America is my favorite Avenger because he’s such a gentleman! But he also knows how to take care of bad guys! And then last but not least, the new X-Men movie…

The trailer has made me really excited about the movie. I have shared before that X-Men is not my favorite franchise, but this looks really good, And though his role is minor, I’m glad Shawn Ashmore is back; he was my favorite in high school.

Any other good trailers you’ve seen recently? What movie are you most excited for? 

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My Top 10 Anticipations for Catching Fire

Today, I randomly started thinking about the upcoming Catching Fire movie, and started really anticipating it. I decided to jot down some of the scenes and moments I am looking forward to the most (assuming they all make it in the movie), and was a little surprised by how long the list grew. It made me pretty excited about it all; is it November yet?! (Actually, I don’t want it to be November yet. I need the warmth of spring and summer first).

WARNING: Do not read this if you have not read Catching Fire. Seriously, DON’T.

#10: Katniss and Plutarch Interact

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At a social event at the Capitol, Plutarch Heavensbee makes a point to show Katniss his custom-made watch. She doesn’t really seem to get it, but it will hit her later that he was, in fact, giving her a very important hint as to how he designed the arena. Once Katniss and the other tributes understanding the working of the arena, they are able to use this to their benefit to help them escape it. I think Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a great actor in that he always creeps me out, and I am hoping this time I will get the opposite vibe from him as he does his best to relay a message to Katniss that he is on her side.

“It starts at midnight.” – Plutarch

#9: Cinna

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This is so low on my list mostly because it’s going to break my heart into a thousand pieces. Even when I saw the promotional picture for Cinna I immediately thought of his fate in this movie, and how much it is going to hurt. I love how much Cinna cares for Katniss and believes in her and in the revolution, and that he is willing to put his life on the line for it. I know watching him being taken away is going to be so haunting.

“I always channel my emotions into my work. That way I don’t hurt anyone but myself.” – Cinna

#8: Haymitch and Katniss

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I looking forward to a few moments between Haymitch and Katniss, but I am particularly anticipating when they get drunk together, and they promise one another that they will do everything they can to bring Peeta out of the games alive. I also look forward to seeing how their relationship continues to grow after the first movie.

“You know, you could live a thousand lives and not deserve him.” – Haymitch

#7: The Quarter Quell

So obviously this is very broad, but I wanted to encompass everything with The Quarter Quell from the announcement of what the rules for the Quarter Quell will be, to the Reaping, to the actual games where Katniss has to learn which tributes to trust. Of course the announcement is a pivotal part of the story because when Katniss learns she is going back in the arena, she immediately goes to run and hide, which we see is a pattern she will continue as the story progresses, especially in Mockingjay. She suffers from PTSD and no one can help her (except Peeta, she’ll come to realize). It will also be interesting to see the new arena and new tributes, of course.

I am going back to the arena. (Katniss)

#6: Katniss’ Mockingjay Dress in Action

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The white wedding version of the mockinjay dress looks pretty good, I hope the effects for the black mockingjay dress prove to be better than the terrible CGI flames we got for the last movie.

#5: Katniss’ Confrontation with President Snow

Katniss-and-President-Snow

I expect the confrontation between President Snow, where he tells Katniss that he’s on to her, will be quite chilling. He starts the conversation by saying, “I think we’ll make this whole situation a lot simpler by agreeing not to lie to each other,” and ends with “By the way, I know about that kiss.” The whole time he has the stench of roses and Katniss wonders why… if only we could smell it with her. But still, I expect to feel a chill will go down my spine when Donald Sutherland utters…

“Convince me.” – President Snow

#4. Finnick and Katniss

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What can be said about Finnick? It all begins when he seductively asks Katniss if she wants a sugar cube, and she has no idea how to respond. I definitely looking forward to this scene and their interaction in the arena.

Katniss: He offered me sugar and wanted to know all my secrets. / Peeta: Ugh. Not really. / Katniss: Really. I’ll tell you more when my skin stops crawling.  

#3: The Staged Moments Between Katniss and Peeta

victory tour

I had quite a list of Katniss/Peeta moments, some of which are completely staged as Katniss has to convince President Snow that she loves Peeta. Some of these moments include: their snow-tumbled kiss (I am sure this will change, especially since Peeta doesn’t have the bum leg in the movies), Peeta’s proposal (may or may not be shown since it was glossed over in the book as well, but I would love to see it!), and my favorite: Peeta announcing to everyone that he and Katniss are already married and that she is pregnant. I literally laughed out loud when I read this part of the book because I knew exactly what Peeta was up to. I really hope this part is kept in so I can see Caesar’s face. And though these moments seem fake to Katniss, she can’t deny there is a little something there…

“Maybe I’d think that too, Caesar, if it weren’t for the baby.” – Peeta

#2: The Sweet, Genuine Moments Between Katniss and Peeta

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This list includes: the rooftop scene, how Peeta helps Katniss through her nightmares, and of course the beach scene, where Peeta gives Katniss his locket and she kisses him for real. 

I wish that Peeta were here to hold me, until I remember I’m not supposed to wish that anymore. (Katniss)

#1: Gale tells Katniss About District 12

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I’m hoping the movie ends just like the book, in its very haunting way…

“Katniss, there is no District Twelve.” – Gale

The perfect cliffhanger.

And that’s only some of what I’m anticipating! What are you looking forward to in the Catching Fire movie?