Film Face-off: 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' vs. 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1'

Film Face-off: 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' vs. 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1'

Nov 24, 2014

Happy Hunger Games. Actually, with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 things aren't so happy. Now that we think about it, a lot of characters in this world haven't ever really been happy about those games.

When we last left Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) there were many crucial elements hanging in the balance. She didn't even know if Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) was alive. Here's a nonspoiler alert, but technically still a spoiler alert: they didn't kill Peeta off. Shocking, we know.

When we compared The Hunger Games vs. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the sequel had a decisive 4-1 victory. Let's find out if the sequel's sequel, which is also half of the finale, can beat the second of a trilogy, which turned into a quadrilogy. It's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire vs. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 in this week's Film Face-off.

 

Katniss Everdeen/Jennifer Lawrence

Catching Fire

Katniss survived the first games. Now she's the accidental symbol of hope, while also trying to make President Snow (Donald Sutherland) happy. She seems even better with a bow, but is having some post-traumatic stress from the killings. Lawrence won as Oscar (Silver Livings Playbook), and everyone seems to love her for speaking her mind.

Mockingjay - Part 1

Katniss shot an arrow into the force field and everything changed. Now, she's been rescued by District 13 (yeah, there are 13). Everyone needs her to be the symbol to unite all of the districts against the capitol, but she is reluctant. She still has a little post-traumatic stress, but is dealing pretty well with it. Since Catching Fire, Lawrence managed to get nominated for another Oscar (American Hustle), but did not win.

WinnerThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1. With the second film, Katniss needs to survive, and she doesn't want to be looked at as a savior. In the third film, she doesn't have to try as hard to survive, but really must deal with the idea that she is the Mockingjay, and as that symbol, she is the best chance to inspire every district. It's a lot to ask of a young woman. There are many opportunities for Mockingjay to come off incredibly cheesy. A film crew is following Katniss, trying to create propaganda pieces to drum up the resistance. During those moments, Cressida (Natalie Dormer) asks Katniss what she is feeling. The beginning of these scenes are groan worthy, but then the power of Lawrence's acting kicks in, and she makes us feel. Plus, in the real world, people still love Lawrence's real-life personality. It's been a full year, and we haven't gotten sick of her yet. Even the Academy still loves her, giving her another well-deserved nomination.

 

The Boys

Catching Fire

Katniss has a fondness for Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), but the future is too bleak for her to pursue it. Peeta knows that Katniss' affections were false, but still cares. Sam Claflin is Finnick Odair, a previous winner who forms an alliance.

Mockingjay - Part 1

Katniss is followed around by Gale like he's a protective dog. He loves her, and she may or may not have some feelings for him from time to time. Peeta has a few interviews with Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), and Finnick is hanging around.

WinnerThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire. This is barely a victory, and for the record, since we are not teenage girls, can we all agree that these young men are easily the worst part of The Hunger Games franchise? Gale never speaks his mind and just quietly begs Katniss to like him. When she does give him a little affection in Mockingjay, he decides to use this moment to complain. Peeta looks terrible in Mockingjay on purpose, yet somehow Katniss is the only one (besides us) who can tell. His longing for her in Catching Fire is the best work from any of these boys in the series, though the ending of Mockingjay definitely has us excited for Peeta in Part 2. Finnick finally gives one good speech in Mockingjay, but otherwise we just kept wondering why he was around.

 

The Costumes

Catching Fire

Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) is still the stylist for District 12. He's also a really big deal now because of the outfits he designed in the first film. When Katniss and Peeta are reintroduced to the crowd, Cinna tells them they'll know the right moment to push a button. They do, and fake flames and ashes appear on their costumes.

Mockingjay - Part 1

Cinna isn't around much anymore, but that did not stop him from designing one last outfit. Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) is stuck in the same drab outfits as the rest of District 13, but she tries to make the most of it. The others really can't. The generic bad guys still look like stormtroopers, and President Snow loves his white.

WinnerThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Cinna has a nice touch. His Mockingjay outfit in Mockingjay is more subtle than his previous creations, but that's not why Catching Fire gets the win here. It's those really basic, loose-fitting navy jumpsuit outfits that everyone is stuck in. Clearly District 13 is aware of fashion, as they help Katniss create her latest look, but they're all walking around in ill-fitting clothes. We are used to our films that take place in the future to fix fashion. We would kill for some Star Trek (2009) shirts, but don't plan on being inspired by the look of Mockingjay. Apparently, we identify with Effie, who constantly complains about the clothes she must deal with.

 

The Others

Catching Fire

We have Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Toby Jones as Claudius Templesmith, Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, Jeffrey Wright as Beetee, Sutherland, Banks, Kravitz and Tucci. Plus, there are kids who die in the Hunger Games along with Jena Malone and Amanda Plummer.

Mockingjay - Part 1

Harrelson, Tucci, Banks, Sutherland, Hoffman and Wright are back with just a touch of Malone. Joining them is Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin. The film crew following Katniss consists of Dormer along with Elden Henson as Pollux and Wes Chatham as Castor. Mahershala Ali plays Boggs, a military man.

WinnerThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1. After Catching Fire we were ready for a Tucci and Banks spin-off film. Sadly, in this installment Tucci is almost wasted, while Banks continues to shine. Getting rid of Jones, Bentley and Kravitz just gives Hoffman and Harrelson more time to shine. They are absolutely joyous to watch as these characters. It is great to see Hoffman going out on top, with his final performances, including this one, being key examples of him being one of the best actors of all time. The film crew is a nice addition of characters with Henson playing a man without a tongue. That was just enough sadness/sympathy for Katniss to sing. This creates a Les Misérables-like moment that (shockingly) works. The addition of Moore is a good thing, with her coming off like President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) from Battlestar Galactica. The only individual we missed from Catching Fire was Malone, but hopefully that is was Part 2 is for.

 

The Games

Catching Fire

It's the 75th Annual Hunger Games, with means it's the Third Annual Quarter Quell. This year past champions are thrust back into the arena.

Mockingjay - Part 1

There is no game, but there are plenty of references to people watching the games, and how they rooted for Katniss or Peeta.

WinnerThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1. Who would have thought removing the Hunger Games from The Hunger Games would improve the franchise? It actually feels like this is the story that was always meant to tell, but we had to patiently wait through those frustrating games. In the Third Annual Quarter Quell, alliances are discussed and make a little more sense in the big picture, compared to the 74th games. The problem is, once our heroes figure out the special pattern of the jungle, it is changed by Plutarch, rendering their intelligence pointless. All of these things could be forgiven if it was secretly up to the head game master to choose the winner and no one ever truly had a chance. The concept and delivery of the actual games within Hunger Games is even worse than the Golden Snitch in Quidditch. Sadly with this franchise, no game is the best game.

 

OVERALL WINNERThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1 defeats The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, 3-2.

Each movie in this franchise has improved upon itself. Mockingjay - Part 1 > Catching Fire > The Hunger Games. By our calculations, if this math continues, Mockingjay - Part 2 will be the greatest part four, of what was originally going to be a part three, of all time. The power of Lawrence, Harrelson, Sutherland and Banks keeps going strong. While the characters in this world aren't happy very often, we are a little shocked with how well this franchise, based on young-adult novels, is aging. Happy Hunger Games, indeed.

 

 

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