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

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

Nov 25, 2013

Happy Hunger Games. Kids killing kids hasn't been this much fun since there was a pig on a stick on an island. Jennifer Lawrence is back as Katniss and she's on a victory tour with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Things don't go exactly as planned, you know, because of the quarter quell and the revolution that is brewing. It seems like the perfect time to look all the way back to 2012, when the original Hunger Games came out. That's right, this week's Film Face-off is The Hunger Games versus The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. May the odds be ever in your favor, or completely rigged. Whichever makes for a more entertaining movie.


Katniss Everdeen/Jennifer Lawrence

The Hunger Games

Katniss starts things off looking at their cat and saying, "I'll still cook you." Don't worry, she's not evil, proven by taking her sister Primrose's (Willow Shields) place in the Hunger Games. Thankfully, she's great with a bow and arrow. At the time, Lawrence was known for Winter's Bone (Oscar nomination) and Mystique in X-Men: First Class.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss survived the first games. Now she's the accidental symbol of hope and must try to make President Snow (Donald Sutherland) happy. She seems even better with a bow, but is having some post-traumatic streefrom the killings. Lawrence has now won as Oscar (Silver Livings Playbook), does amazing things with ordinary interviews, and been attached to every future film that will ever come out.

Winner: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. In the first film, the book nerds were upset because Lawrence wasn't skinny enough to play Katniss. There should never be a moment when an actress isn't skinny enough for a role, unless it's Melissa McCarthy cast in the life story of Sally Field. I changed my mind, that sounds amazing. Throughout the first film, Katniss needs to survive, and she's willing to oddly manipulate to do it. In the second, not only does she need to survive, she doesn't want to be looked at as a savior. The PTS is a fantastic addition. Lawrence seems to be "our" favorite. Everyone is rooting for her, and loves when she speaks her mind. Whatever weird dislike has been thrown at Anne Hathaway, Lawrence is the bizarro version of that, and we want more.


The Boys

The Hunger Games

Katniss has a fondness for Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), but the future is too bleak for her to pursue it. Peeta Mellark is thrust into the Hunger Games with Katniss, and he's had a crush on her from afar.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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

Winner: The Hunger Games. This is a tough one for me, because of Hutcherson's hair. Yes, I'm being serious. He has naturally brown hair, and looks terrible as a blond. As the first film moves along, he keeps getting more blond. But, in the flashback when he's tossing bread to Katniss, it's pretty brown looking. Sadly, I could go on about this, but let's focus on the positives. Katniss creates a fake relationship, and it's tough for us (let alone the other districts) to tell if it's real or not. Poor Peeta. While I like the evolution with Peeta in Catching Fire, having Gale once again sit on the sidelines is boring. Do they realize that's Thor's brother? Plus, when Katniss and Gale kiss, I just assumed that was one of many, not the first. It lacked impact compared to the fake ones Katniss plants on Peeta.


The Others

The Hunger Games

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, Toby Jones as Claudius Templesmith, Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, and Sutherland as President Snow. Plus, there are kids who die in the Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Harrelson, Tucci, Banks and Sutherland all have bigger roles. Jones and Kravitz are back. Joining are Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, Jeffrey Wright as Beetee, Amanda Plummer as Wiress, and Jena Malone as Johanna Mason. Plus, there are people who die in the Hunger Games.

Winner: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Sometimes you just need to spend more time with characters to truly appreciate them. The Hunger Games cast completely reminds me of Saturday Night Live characters you didn't think were that funny the first time, but loved them the second time around. Now, I'm in on the "joke" with them. I am ready for a spin-off film focusing on Tucci and Banks. The addition of Wright is always a good thing, Malone redid her Sucker Punch character with better results, and while it took a little while to see the point of Hoffman, it was worth it. Plus, I think someone said, "We need someone who is like that crazy woman from The Fisher King." Then they realized Plummer could still do it.


The Fire

The Hunger Games

Cinna is the stylist for District 12. He was inspired by Katniss volunteering. When they are introduced to the crowd, Cinna tells Katniss and Peeta to push a button at just the right moment. They do, and fake flames appear on their costumes. Everyone is impressed.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Cinna 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.

Winner: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Look, I know it's a repeat in concept, but the special effects are what take the cake here. In the first film, the fire looks terribly fake. I am completely clueless why this impresses Caesar and everyone else. Has the technology to create fake fire never existed in this world before? Or is Cinna the first to put it on fashionable clothing? These questions and more, go unanswered. In the second film, the fire (now with ash) looks good. It actually looks like they spent money to create the special effects. Plus, this time when Katniss twirls for Caesar, there is a political/social statement to go along with it.


The Game

The Hunger Games

Kids of all ages are in a forest arena with weapons galore. There is also a chance to get sponsors by charming the viewers. It's the 74th Annual Hunger Games, which is a way to keep the disenfranchised members of society in check.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

It's the 75th Annual Hunger Games, with means it's the Third Quarter Quell, which means something special will happen. This year it's past champions thrust back into the arena. This time it's a jungle area with different quadrants.

Winner: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. This is a slight victory for Catching Fire because I like the ending. There are numerous problems with the games. Let's talk about the 74th first. They changed the rules by allowing two to win (as long as they were from the same district). Was this a big deal? Do they change the rules all the time? Also, the forest fire complete with flaming balls could have killed Katniss. Is that what the audience within this society wants? Aren't they after hand-to-hand combat? Also, the games would have more drama and rooting interest if you didn't put a big pile of weapons in the middle, allowing the fastest to immediately start killing.

I have no perspective of what the society thinks, because we never hear their outrage or excitement. Also, in the first film alliances aren't addressed. At all. This makes no sense and is the truest glaring issue with this film based on a young-adult book. If you've been raised in this society, knowing only one can survive, you kill. There are also the muttations, which can be created in this society through a computer, I guess. If only three humans are left, why create muttations to speed things up? And if you can create anything from this computer, why do you need parachutes to drop in donations from sponsors that only get slightly close to the competitors. In the second game, alliances are discussed and make a little more sense in the big picture. 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. Did you notice both films use a giant hill, and falling down it without seriously getting hurt, as a way to get away from danger? Finally, Jabber Jays are the lamest things of all time. Can you tell I'm a rule monger and these rules collectively just don't make sense?


OVERALL WINNER: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire defeats The Hunger Games, 4-1.

In The Hunger Games everything is pretty interesting, then we get to the games and it loses my interest. In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire everything is really interesting, then we get to the games and it loses my interest a little bit. That's right. Same formula, better delivery. It helps that either the budget has increased or they've just hired better special effects artists. It definitely leaves me wanting more films. Since I haven't read the books, I'll be absolutely baffled if we spend much time with the 76th Annual Hunger Games. This is definitely for the best since the games are 0/2 with lacking any true drama. The concept and delivery of the actual games within Hunger Games is even worse than the Golden Snitch in Quidditch.




Categories: Features, In Theaters
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