I've been quite excited for the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - not only because I adore the initial trilogy by Suzanne Collins, but also because I was very happy with the first book's film adaptation. Once again, I have virtually no complaints.
Catching Fire takes place just before Hunger Games winners Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mallark are about to kick off the traditional Victory Tour in which they travel to each district in Panem. But, President Snow is unhappy with the outcome of the Games, and he will stop at nothing to make things even more difficult, even if it means having Katniss in another Hunger Games. It is apparent that Katniss and Peeta have inspired some to rebel against their totalitarian government, against President Snow, thus thickening this very intense plot as we all hope that Katniss and Peeta will choose to focus on the good of Panem as well as their own survival. Hence, Catching Fire was a fantastic novel, and now it is a fantastic movie.
Jennifer Lawrence was a huge reason why this film turned out so well, just like the last one. Her acting takes everything to a whole new level; it's easy to really feel what Katniss is feeling, whether it's physical or emotional pain. Between her talent and her general personality, I'll always be a Jennifer Lawrence fan.
Plus, I got a bit emotional during a few different parts of Catching Fire, just as I did during The Hunger Games' film rendition, notably when Katniss and Peeta visited District 11. Between thinking of Rue and seeing the awful system of governing take place, my heart broke. Of course, the emotions I felt toward this worst-case-scenario government of Panem were present throughout the entire movie, much like when I read the book. The state their country is in is just so gut-wrenching that it makes my stomach queasy just thinking about it.
In terms of how accurate the film was to the book... Well, I read Catching Fire in January of 2011; I don't really remember all of the nitpicky details, so I won't really talk about it from that sort of perspective. However, I will say that all of the major stuff I remember was there and was depicted the way I imagined. The only shock for me was Johanna; I just didn't picture her to look like the actress that played her (Jena Malone) at all. But I was definitely happy to see Finnick, one of my favorite characters from the trilogy.
I was also pleased that James Newton Howard wrote the film score again, and the general effects of the film were very cool, especially at the end. And they kept that horrific cliff-hanger... Ironically, I was really hoping that they kept the treacherous ending. Sure, no one really likes cliff-hangers, but I already know what happens, so now I can appreciate why Suzanne Collins would keep us at the edge of our seats like this. But I'm not saying any more than that. Just go watch it!
But as far as recommending this to people who haven't read the book (or even the first one, for that matter)... I'm not entirely sure if I can do that simply because so much of the story lies in Katniss' perspective and a lot of information is explained in a clear way. It's not that the movie failed to do anything right, the film simply cannot pause to thoroughly explain everything, and I know the person I was with (who has never read the books) had a hard time following. Fortunately, the books are amazing, so why not just read them?
Looking back, I remember when I was so worried about how the Hunger Games films would turn out when I first found out about the adaptations being made; it's such a relief that people are doing justice to one of my favorite trilogies. The setting and characters are so accurate to how I pictured them (with the exception of Johanna). I highly, highly doubt fans will be disappointed; I know I wasn't.