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Review: ‘Catching Fire’ – From Blaze to Inferno

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I’m sitting in the dark excitedly waiting for what will be my third screening of ‘Catching Fire’ to begin. What makes the third time around special you ask? IMAX.

Prior to this screening I had never seen a ‘normal’ film on IMAX before, only short 3D specials before museum exhibits (I was at IMAX Melbourne, which is housed in the same building as the Melbourne Museum), so I had no idea what it was going to look like. I certainly didn’t expect that the rest of the film, given only the arena was filmed in IMAX, would stand up so magnificently on the giant screen. As actors’ faces loom large in front of your eyes you somehow feel closer still to the action and the amount of detail you can take in intensifies, making it a cinch to spot our list of twenty bits you may have missed.

Scenes are magnified; the crowd is louder during the Victory Tour, you can see the incredible amount of detail in every Capitol citizens outfit at Snow’s mansion that ensures no two look alike, Thread’s scream is even more intimidating, the intricate pattern on Katniss and Peeta’s chariot outfits is more visible and the attention to detail in Effie’s costumes is astounding. Every scene manages to sweep you off your feet – I felt like I was watching it again for the first time. Even the ‘simple’ moments like a scene inside seem greater and I came away even more in awe of the production team’s efforts in painstakingly putting together each set with such remarkable detail. I became so wrapped up in the movie again that I almost entirely forgot we were still yet to get into the IMAX footage.

And then the screen widened.

Katniss_Arena_Platforms

As Katniss was coming to grips with the arena around her so was I, with saucer-wide eyes and goosebumps I absolutely felt like it was no place for the girl on fire. Despite it being my third viewing I was not prepared to feel so overwhelmed and frightened for her, but the IMAX cameras had such startling clarity that the first few minutes in the arena were even more heart-pumping.

When the band of allies runs off into the jungle the cameras come into their own again. The jungle is even more vibrant, beautiful and alive, even though you know it hides deadly secrets within. I noticed fully for the first time red flowers high up in the vines and the foliage of individual plants stands out even more. As they paused to catch their breath I noticed that I could make out each piece of the honeycomb pattern on their arena costumes and as the cannons started to go off the sound effect was so loud I saw several people in the audience jump.

Then there are the deadly horrors of the jungle, starting with the fog. Somehow it was more terrifying and the make-up effects more gruesome. The monkey mutts terrific nightmare-inducing look is magnified again. I thought they looked amazing already but the quality of the CGI alongside the high definition IMAX cameras serves to make them look even more terrifying and deadly. The giant tidal wave is among my favourite effects in the arena and though the film is not 3D Francis Lawrence has produced a feeling of dread as you watch the wave rampage through the jungle, crash into the cornucopia and end by washing over the Victor’s feet. Imagine that wall of water heading towards you on a 32 metre screen!

Johanna is of course a favourite of mine and one of the movie’s scene stealers (though every single actor did a remarkable job, I felt like every character had stepped straight out of the book) and I must say her giant face covered in blood was great. Seeing the beach scene at that size was also incredible, I know this particular scene was a cause of much worry in the fandom but everything about it is perfect and not even enormous 20 metre plus faces ruined it. The fight at the cornucopia is another standout, I thought Francis did such an amazing job with that and I will never tire of seeing it.

Cornucopia_Spin

And then we come to the arena’s final moments. All of this was put together so well, from the addition of the arguing between the ‘allies’ to Johanna knocking Katniss down and then changing the scene to have Finnick deliver the “remember who the real enemy is” line. In IMAX it all looks better again and you really do feel as if you are on a thrill ride, building up to that huge drop you know comes at the end. One small nitpick I had with the film was some of the CGI as the arena explodes around Katniss, but as strange as it sounds I found this less noticeable, probably because Katniss consumes most of the screen! Given all that is going on around her you barely notice the screen shrinking back to its pre-arena size for the movies final scenes. The very end of the film is also more than worth it in IMAX, with Jennifer’s changing expression as Katniss and the Mockingjay logo reveal just spectacular.

If you felt that you may have been missing that close feel to Katniss and her story then IMAX could be for you. What is already an intense ride only further intensifies, with heightened emotions and visual stimuli that put you right at the centre of the action and the heart of the film. For everyone else, even if you have already seen and dissected the film over and over, I guarantee IMAX will give you a thrill of a different kind. Just the screen widening, let alone the rest of the film, makes it well worth the extra cost of admission.

About Tash Leary Archive

All posts under the "Tash Leary Archive" were originally written by Tash Leary and posted on Mockingjay.net. Original comments have been deleted and discussion closed.

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29 comments

  1. There’s no IMAX in my country, such a shame 🙁

  2. Tash, I think you’ve just talked me into a fourth viewing — this time in IMAX!

    • It’s definitely worth it Hana! And I think we all have to go and see it at least 3-4 times hehehe 🙂

      • Drat! I was planning to go today, but I’ve been foiled by those pesky little Hobbits from New Zealand! I’ll have to wait until next year, when hopefully Lionsgate will do a special IMAX rerun like they did with Hunger Games.

        • Ahh bummer – The Hobbit takeover isn’t here yet. It’s not released until Boxing Day, which is this weird tradition here that everyone complains about but secretly loves.

  3. Wow sounds amazing! I’m actually planning on seeing it in IMAX during Christmas with my family. I really hope they’ll still have IMAX cinemas playing it then.

    • I hope so too Sara! Your family will love it 😀 I went with my aunt and cousins who hadn’t seen it yet and they were all amazed with it.

      • Aw that’s awesome! Yeah, nobody has seen it yet and even though Ive seen it 4 times already I’ve been dying to see it in IMAX. But I have to wait until Christmas cause I’m making my parents, my brother, and his fiancé see it and I know IMAX would be the way to go. Crossing my fingers it will still be playing for another 2 weeks! 🙂

  4. I saw the premier double feature in IMAX…and the second time, in regular. IMAX is most definitely worth the extra money!

  5. I saw it in IMAX each time I saw it (so far) and it was worth the large expense! It’s the only time I can think of where you can see A GIGANTIC Jennifer Lawerance, especially cuz mockingjay will not be in imax

  6. I was going to watch it for a third time in a regular theater, but now you made me reconsider… damn!

    I wonder if you study marketing or something, cause I’m serious, you’re making me want to watch it on IMAX all over again.

    • Hahah, you’re spot on – I’ve got a Bachelor of Computing and a Bachelor of Business, with a Major in Marketing 😉 My daily job is also as an Online Comms Officer for local govt, so communicating via social online to all our residents. I love marketing and what makes people tick 🙂

  7. I watched it 3 times in IMAx. Loved it and everyone who went with me loved it. The first time I saw it the movie was filled with huge fans up a 11:30 at night. We cheered and clapped. We were decked out in braids, pins and some had Arena outfits on. I wore me sugar cube earrings from Esty. The next two times it was a much older crowd. I could hear the dialog better. It was great. And the third time I took my friend who got me into all of this. She was very impressed. It was like the cherry on top. It was so good.

  8. you already knew i loved the review, tash, but can i just add that inserting that image right after “and then the screen widened” makes it 100x more awesome? ahhhh, i remember that feeling, gives me chills all over again. good job!

    • Hahah, thanks! 😀 I was looking for a screencap more of her view of the water but then settled on that one.

  9. Tash, I think you may have convinced me. I was never a huge fan of IMAX, I think it scarred me for life after going on a school excursion and seeing a space film in 3D. And it was so loud! However, the way you spoke about how detailed everything was finally got me thinking, “well, maybe it’ll be worth it.”

    And let me point out that I’ve seen the movie three times already on a regular cinema screen.

    • I know exactly what you mean Ellie. It is definitely worth giving it another go though, the sound effects are loud but not in an awful way. I just lost myself totally in the experience – it was really amazing how everything ‘old’ became new again.

  10. mirandathevampgirl

    Ok I have been holding in my thoughts long enough so I think it is now time for me to break the silence and tell all of you what i thought about catching fire. Although one review for me is not enough but first here is the 1st half.
    Last week as i was listening to to the song Atlas from Cold Play on the catching fire soundtrack I am now ready to talk about the movie now that I am mentally ready and
    have my thoughts together. So get ready and I will try my best not to give too much away but since we both read the books it won’t be a spoiler unless you look at footage. So anyway here it goes…………..(Takes deep breath) So when I finally got to see the movie for the very first time I was feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety at
    the same time because I don’t think I was ready to be prepared for what will lie ahead. And from the moment the film started with the very first scene I just knew that my journey was about to begin. I was headed for an endless roller coaster ride of a film. Everything from start to finish blew me away. This is by far one of the finest and most captavating adaptations that I have ever seen in my life and believe me I have had my share of watching them including our beloved Twilight but this was something else. I felt like I was revisiting the book all over again in the form of visuals and action. I would say at least 88%-90% of the film was very true to the book as far as accuracy, details, goes but the heart and soul that resonates profoundly from the original text was delivered on the screen very beautifully. Although there were some alternative
    changes and some scenes that were added that weren’t in the book originally but
    were more like in a third person narrative particularly in scenes from the capitol with the President and the peacekeepers orchestrating the arena to name a few but it actually made sense that they did scenes like that so that the audience who have not read the book will probably get a better hint on what’s really going on and this will be something that is going to be consistent with the “Mocking Jay” films, going beyond Katnis’s point-of-view. Although I wish they could have given more hints about the impending rebellion that Katnis thought of and as I remember from the book especially with the chapter when they had the two women Bonnie and Twil she spent almost all the second half of the book before the Quarter Quell thinking about and that didn’t have enough clarity or explanation. But anyway back to the film as I have said earlier on a part of was not prepared for what was going to happen in the movie or at least the amount of emotions that I felt the whole time. In some scenes I was absolutely shocked and horrified in some scenes, heartbroken in some, anxious in others and there were a few light hearted, amusing moments that made me forget about the drama but yet all together at the same time I couldn’t help but feel hopeful even though I knew what was going to happen and it made me want to stand up and
    cheer. That’s how good it was. Stay tuned for my second review when we get to the really good stuff.

    • Well, there were some flaws in the movie concerning the captivity of Johanna and Peeta that wasn’t in the movie, i concider that as a major flaw, or the removal of the trackerjacker from Katniss by Johanna wasn’t in it. There are some people saying the bloodrainscene was in the movie but it wasn’t, only the result of it.

  11. mirandathevampgirl

    All right I am now ready to present the second half of my review. I put alot of thought into it. I know you’re probably thinking
    about how I felt about the acting, what were some of my favorite scenes, what
    did I think about the overall production including the directing and maybe some
    other random stuff like music, and more mysteriously if I decided to switch
    teams meaning the Gale/Peeta thing. So without further ado let’s get this shit
    going. But I think I’ll start off with an easier subject. The acting of course.
    Well I think as we both know it goes without saying that in this field the
    acting has set the bar up very high, and was very spot on but from what I saw
    yesterday it was so much more than what I anticipated especially hearing from
    some other fans even though I tried to ignore their spoilers as much as
    possible. But anyway everybody was completely on their A game and I’m not just
    referring to Jennifer, Josh or Liam but it was everybody and I mean
    EVERYBODY!!! Everybody in this movie, every actor playing their characters
    outside the trio from Haymitch, Effie, President Snow, Plutarch, Prim, Finnck,
    Cinna, Caesar, oh and ever the fucking cat, and some of the more minor
    characters or the other Tributes like Beete, Joanna, Mags, Wiress you name it
    they all kicked some serious ass. It was like a play where you see a whole
    bunch of amazing, talented actors giving it their all as if they prepare to put
    on performances like this every day and they did. I could not have been more
    satisfied and be in complete awe. Now who’s to say had the best performances, I
    honestly cannot say but I do feel like there were some that stood out more than
    others even the ones who were only around for a short time. I won’t say who it
    is, but you’ll have to see to believe. Now as for picking a favorite scene or
    at least one that I keep replaying in my head is another challenge. I’m not
    really into picking favorites or at least openly admit them. Although I will
    tell you this, if there were any scenes that I did enjoy watching the most more
    than anything it would have to be scenes that were pretty emotional but quiet
    or just scenes that focused only on the characters and just seeing the
    emotional depth between them or moments where there is just seeing their
    character and behavior develop on a whole different level or just seeing
    another side to them that was totally different if you know what I mean and
    just not having anything else happen in the moment, no action or violence or
    fighting just the emotions and the dialogue. However the scenes were Katnis was
    having her freak outs with her Post Traumatic Stress Disorders coming out kind
    of scared the shit out of me but made me sad at the same time, because you can
    tell that these hunger games left a scar in her and it’s something that she can’t
    get away from very easily. In fact I don’t know if I was watching Katnis or
    Jennifer. Cinna’s death was very hard to watch and almost made me want to cry
    hysterically in the theater. The aftermath of Gale’s whipping ripped my heart
    out because it was exactly what I remembered from the book and how I pictured
    it and when I told you about it, seeing my poor Gale in pain and having Katnis
    hold his hand in comfort I mean good god I almost lost it. Having Effie and
    Haymitch give their emotional good byes to Katnis and Peeta because it feels
    like they were like their own children and letting them to their supposed death
    sentences. 🙁 Peeta
    showing the locket to Katniss and telling her that she deserved to live and
    should be the one to die because he has no one else who cares for him :,( Every
    single scene from the arena including the monkeys, Peeta’s near death experience,
    the fog, Finnick being Finnick, Joanna cursing out the Capitol, the “Spinning”
    the mother flipping Jabberjays and Katniss’s reaction to them and the final
    showdown and the “There is no District 12” line at the end. I mean holy shit
    was that insane I almost felt like leaving the room to compose myself, I would
    tell you some more but I don’t want to torture you too much with any more spoilers
    so I’ll stop there for now. Now what do I think about Francis Lawrence’s
    interpretation and direction with this film as well as the rest of the
    production team. Well let me say that I want to order a shit ton of flowers and
    fruit baskets. No seriously everybody did a kick ass job putting it together
    and making it as beautiful as it is, but Francis definitely gave it something
    else. He truly put his whole heart and soul into this film and was so dedicated
    to respecting the fan’s wishes in making it an honest adaptation which is very
    hard to do especially when they have a lot of high expectations and are very
    specific with certain details, but for the most part he did his job right. I
    don’t think anyone else would have done a better job. The look of the film was definitely
    better than the original particularly with the cinematography and art direction
    because it was so detailed oriented and picturesque to all of the most
    important settings from the story and making it look like this world that the
    characters were living in felt very realistic and believable. I always liked looking
    at the graphics and artistic production designs on films especially because I studied
    theatrical production designs this semester. It’s beautiful. Oh man I can go on
    with this forever but this is enough for now. Speaking of which this leads me
    to the next part. Am I still Team Gale or have I switched gears and went back
    to Team Peeta? Hmmmm. Well you know when I wrote that story about how Katnis
    wrote a letter to the boys about how she felt about them and that instead of
    favoring one over the other she decided that she wants to have both of them
    involved in her life. I mean look at Bella in Twilight and Clary in Mortal
    instruments, look on how both of them at one time struggled with their own love
    problems and wondered about the fate of their relationships as friends or
    lovers but they decided to choose to be with one man as her lover and the other
    as her friend but that in a sense has strengthened their friendship. Bella
    still had her Jacob and Clary still had her Simon. I think something that is lacking
    in this love triangle that I would have preferred Suzzane Collins to write
    about was having both men in her life and balance out the fate of their
    relationships between having a romantic relationship and having a platonic one
    but still just as strong. I think if Collins were to have put that kind of
    relationship between the boys and the girl I think the last book would turn out
    to be better than what the fans were given. Its not fair. So I guess you can
    say that I love both of them, I truly do I love both Gale and Peeta they’re
    good boys and the thing that they have in common is that they not only love
    both love Katnis but that they are fighters in their own way, I mean yeah Gale
    is more upfront and vocal about and Peeta is more quiet but I think it’s for
    the right reasons. And you know what at the end of the day who cares. Like who
    cares about who would be a better boyfriend to Katnis? Who cares? Nobody’s
    perfect, just let it go. It doesn’t matter to me this movie just makes me
    appreciate them more because of it. And that’s good enough for me. Overall before
    I wrap up you can clearly tell that I loved this movie with all my heart, I saw it again but I would like to fo one more time after finals. I hope i didn’t drag on too much i just have alot to say but thanks for listening.

    • People say that Cinna has been killed in the movie but that wasn’t plain to see. He just got knocked down by the peacekeepers and dragged away when Katniss was already in the tube but was he dead????? Maybe anyone can reply to this?

  12. Now no one laugh at me but what is imax exacly?

    • It’s basically a different film format that can record and display images at a much bigger resolution than normal film. Instead of regular 35mm film the IMAX cameras use 70mm film.

  13. So agree with you regarding the IMAX. Have seen it 3xs already and each time in Imax-my daughter has seen it 4xs in Imax–so neither of us even knew what the difference would be seeing it on a regular screen.
    But we found out because my niece saw it on a regular screen one day and then the next day viewed it in Imax with my daughter and told us how much more exciting and wonderful it was to see the movie on the larger screen.

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