Let’s Watch Catching Fire pt. 2

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Katniss comes up with a novel way to ease president Snow’s growing paranoia: get married! If her and OHD are expected to keep this charade going for the rest of their lives, it’s going to come up eventually; why not do it now and try to push the romance angle at a time when they need it most?

We cut briefly back to First Hot Dude watching the news announcement and looking surly. The movies have to keep reminding us he exists because he doesn’t actually do anything important until way later.

I’m kind of baffled why president Snow just leaves it to Katniss and OHD to turn the situation around on the growing unrest. He’s the leader of Evilandia, he’s got unlimited resources and control of the media. Surely he should be taking a more active role in this?

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Effie takes Katniss and OHD to a big party at Snow’s abode, which as you can see is totally fabulous. Katniss’ outfit has these bird-wing things on the shoulders, which is a bit of nice foreshadowing for something that gets revealed later. If Cinna designed the outfit then it’s probably also a hint that he’s in with la resistance (I can’t remember if he is or not).

Inside there’s a big debauched party where people drink something that makes them vomit just so they can go on eating, to push the vague Roman empire thing further into the spotlight (except the Romans didn’t actually do that).

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The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman is also at the party, playing the gloriously-named Plutarch Heavensbee. He’s the new gamemaker and the successor to the guy who fucked everything up in the previous movie. He dances with Katniss and reveals that he’s, like, 1000 times cooler and more interesting than the other villains, including President Snow. Admittedly part of this may just be that Hoffman was a really good actor and totally kills it even though this role doesn’t involve a whole lot of demanding characterisation.

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FUCK ALL OF YOU, I’M RICHER THAN GOD

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Snow delivers a vaguely ominous speech, then tries to take a drink but blood comes from his mouth or something. I forgot about this, but apparently he has one of those medical conditions that in fiction only evil people have where he bleeds in a scary way. The book really hammers home what a one-dimensional devil figure he is, talking about how he smells like blood all the time and wears perfumed roses to cover up the scent.

Immediately after this Katniss looks over at him and he shakes his head, thus indicating that she has failed to stop the rising rebelliousness of the Districts by pretending to be in love with OHD. WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING IT WAS A SUCH A SENSIBLE PLAN

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During the train ride back to District 12 Katniss walks past the security office and sees footage of riots breaking out all over the place. This is of course an unprecedented situation, as no one thought to do this until Katniss gave them the idea.

(No I won’t stop complaining about that)

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Snow and Plutarch watch the riots and talk about how Katniss sucks. Snow is all for just killing her, but Plutarch comes up with a better idea: hammer down on the Districts with deprivation and punishment, while blanketing the media with details about Katniss’ big fancy wedding, thus making the people hate her. Hey, that’s a way more sensible idea than anything Snow has done so far.

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Back at District 12 Katniss runs up to Grouchy Jealous Asshole and hugs him. She wants her, him, OHD and their families to run away into the woods, but despite how dire the situation is Grouchy is still being all pissy about OHD. Katniss reluctantly tells him about the riots breaking out; he thinks it’s awesome that people are fighting back, while she’s appalled by how the rebellions only lead to District citizens getting killed and wishes she had never defied the Capital.

This conflict- whether to hunker down in the oppressive system and try to stay safe or rebel and risk violence and death- is common in both fiction and reality, and it’s a dilemma that has no correct answer. I wouldn’t ever fault someone living in an oppressive system for just keeping their heads down and trying to get by.

Asshole falls on the “yay rebellion” side of the argument, whereas Katniss just doesn’t want to cause any more deaths, which is totally understandable. Just as Asshole declares that he’s not going to run away a big convoy of peacekeepers arrives to start shit.

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You can tell this guy is extra evil because he’s not wearing a helmet. Also the weird HR Giger design on their armour really bothers me for some reason.

The peacekeepers ransack what I guess is a black market, hauling people away and burning shit. Grouchy sees Commander Evil preparing to beat someone and tackles him to the ground, then gets whipped at a pillory for his trouble. Katniss runs in to intervene like a badass, so the Commander threatens to shoot her (I’m gonna say this doesn’t seem like the guy you want in charge of a potentially volatile situation where pissing off the populace could lead to civil unrest). So then Woodie Harrelson also runs over and manages to defuse the situation by pointing out that the Capitalites will be pissed if he murders their media-friendly couple right before the big wedding.

The aftermath of the whipping is pretty horrific and unflinching. Everyone’s freaking out but Katniss’ sister saves the day by revealing that she’s become all level-headed and competent since the first movie (in contrast to Katniss’ USELESS WASTE OF SKIN MOTHER GOD WHAT IS EVEN HER PROBLEM IT’S LIKE HER HUSBAND TRAGICALLY DIED AND LEFT HER IN CRUSHING POVERTY WITH TWO DAUGHTERS OR SOMETHING).

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Katniss and Grouchy share a moment. No, you’re not convincing me for one second that there’s a chance she’s actually going to end up with this guy. He is clearly the Jacob to OHD’s Edward.

Random factoid: the guy who plays Grouchy is the brother of Chris Hemsworth, aka Thor. And apparently he was married to Miley Cyrus briefly? That’s wacky. Life is wacky. What were we talking about?

The next morning Katniss talks to her sister and she’s all like “fuck yeah rebellion” (paraphrasing slightly), so I guess now Katniss can just be awesome and thumb her nose at authority and become the symbol of the resistance.

…right? We don’t need to go trough some convoluted retread of the events of the first movie, right? Right?

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Snow isn’t pleased with Katniss interfering in the whipping (why the fuck are they broadcasting all of this live? Shouldn’t they at least have some sort of delay?) and tells Plutarch that all of the victors are getting too arrogant and they think they’re invincible. Well gee, why don’t you toss them all in an arena and make them kill each other or something?

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Oh.

So every 25 years there’s a special deluxe Hunger Games called the Quarter Quell (why does everything in this story have a stupid name). Since it’s the 75th year of the Games it’s Quarter Quellin’ time, and Plutarch as the Gamemaker has come up with a novel twist: select Tributes from the past victors. Since Katniss is the only female victor District 12 has ever produced, she’s automatically screwed.

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Needless to say, she doesn’t take this very well.

Seriously, Snow. Just have her killed. Executing her will turn her into a martyr? Make it look like an accident. Make it look like suicide. Frame OHD. Plant an assassin in the crowd at her next public appearance so it looks like someone from the Districts did it. There are a million easier solutions than this.

After her breakdown Katniss runs to Woody Harrelson’s house and declares that she’s going to do whatever it takes to save OHD, even though it will mean sacrificing her own life. She also comes to this conclusion in the book, and even with the benefit of internal narration I never understood why. It’s not like he saved her the previous time or something, she dragged his useless ass through the entire thing.

Woody Harrelson says that if OHD is chosen he’ll volunteer to go in his place, but that if he’s chosen and OHD volunteers there’s nothing he can do.

This entire scene is nonsensical. I don’t understand why Katniss is suddenly so concerned with saving OHD, and I don’t get why Woody is convinced to throw his life away so easily. Because he cares about Katniss that much? We haven’t really seen them develop a bond that deep.

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Katniss and Grouchy sit in a field and have a good mope before the Reaping. You know, there would have been time for that whole running away idea. The announcement of the Quincy Quart was made in what seemed to be the depths of winter, and judging by the clothes they’re wearing during the reaping it’s at least late spring.

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Effie I love you and all, but “encrusted in butterflies” is not a good look.

There’s a brilliant bit here where Effie has to go through the farce of picking Katniss’ name out of a bowl that only has one card in it, and she has trouble keeping up the cheery gameshow announcer persona due to her obvious distress at Katniss’ situation.

Woody gets chosen as the male tribute but OHD volunteers to go in his place, much to Katniss’ distress.

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Everyone does the hand thing and OHD and Katniss return the gesture (ignore the fact that the unfortunate framing here makes it look like OHD is giving a Nazi salute). Because, you know, now they’ve got nothing to lose and can be as rebellious as they want. On live TV. In front of everyone. Due to being picked for the Hunger Games.

President Snow, you may want to look more closely at this Plutarch guy. His ideas don’t seem to be helping the situation all that much.

For some reason the security forces don’t crack down on the spectators (I guess people in District 12 are allowed to do it?), although Commander Evil does drag Katniss and OHD straight to the train without giving them a chance to say goodbye to their families. Yeah, that won’t make them more pissed off and likely to say “fuck the Capital, everyone start rioting super hard” on TV.

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On the train, Effie suggests they all get some kind of gold accessory (she has gold hair) to go with Katniss’ mockingjay pin as a show of solidarity to each other, which is kind of adorable. Cinna’s already got gold eye-liner, so he’s part of Team Protagonist as well.

While we’re on the subject of Effie: I don’t think this is ever stated (and it may be unique to the movies) but I always get this vague suggestion that she’s not participating in all of this by choice. She frequently seems frightened or nervous as if there’s some dire consequence for failure hanging over her head, and her flamboyant show-biz persona is very obviously a facade meant to hide a more insecure personality.

I think that’s why I feel more inclined to give her a pass over Cinna: you can read her character quite easily as someone thrown into the system against her will and making the best of it, whereas Cinna comes across like he chose to work with the Tributes of his own volition.

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3 thoughts on “Let’s Watch Catching Fire pt. 2

  1. reveen

    Why 25 years? Isn’t that kind of a long-ass time to wait between super-special Hunger Games? You might be able to catch two of them if you’re lucky. Ten years sounds like a far better interval.

    Unless the people in the Capitol were really long lived, which would actually make the whole thing a bit more sensible. If the Capitol was far smaller and were the same group of people from the founding of the games to the start of the books it would be far easier to swallow them being a pack of psychopaths who think kids killing each other is a grand old time.

    Reply

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