While we are waiting for official confirmation that Francis Lawrence has signed the offer and will be directing Catching Fire, EW weighs in on their thoughts how Francis Lawrence can make Catching Fire an improvement from the Hunger Games.
1. No More Shaky-Cam. This summer will mark ten years since the one-two punch of The Bourne Identity and 24 instigated the shaky-camera revolution in modern action movie. All the familiar elements of this style were present in The Hunger Games: Needlessly awkward chin close-ups; quick cuts of people running; a complete butchering of the 180 degree rule. As my colleague Adam B. Vary pointed out, Catching Fire is a larger and more exotic story than its predecessor, with intriguing peeks at the other Districts and an Arena which is decidedly more fantastical than the forest in Hunger Games. I think this plays to Lawrence’s strengths — remember the vivid post-apocalyptic Manhattan of I Am Legend?
2. Don’t feel try to fit in everything. The first movie managed to make some smart plot and character trims, but the whole thing still felt quite a bit rushed, with some scenes playing out as little more than supporting-character role calls. (That’s particularly true in regards to the Careers, who were barely a presence except for their occasional background snarls. People, they were supposed to be antagonists.) That problem could only be exacerbated in Catching Fire, which introduces a host of new characters. Even moreso than Hunger Games, the second movie is going to require some serious editing and refocusing. Which is why I’d recommend…
3. Chop down the Victory Tour. Catching Fire begins (Spoiler for you non-readers, although come on, reading is good for you) with a lengthy trip around the various Districts of Panem, and although it’s interesting from a world-building perspective, it’s mostly tension-free. The firstHunger Games movie spent a lot of time on the lead-up to the games, but as much as I love Stanley Tucci, Catching Fire could benefit from getting to the action faster. My pitch: Make the Victory Tour a montage, and get to the Quarter Quell. That also means more time to spend with Finnick and Johanna, two intriguing new characters who don’t even appear until halfway through the book.
4. Let Katniss narrate, already! There are people who say that adding narration to movies is fundamentally bad. Here is my response to those people: Sunset Boulevard, Adaptation, Fight Club, Goodfellas, The Royal Tenenbaums, Apocalypse Now, A Clockwork Orange, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and Terrence Motherf—ing Malick. The books are narrated from Katniss’ perspective, and her narration doesn’t just serve a functional plot purpose: It lets us see how other characters’ perception of her often differs dramatically from her perception of herself. That aspect of the book — the difference between Katniss-as-a-media-image and Katniss-as-a-human-being — is hugely important, and wasalmost completely left out of the first movie. Taking away Katniss’ interior monologue has the effect of transforming her from a fascinatingly flawed three-dimensional character into a two-dimensional superhero. Let the girl on fire speak for herself!
What do you guys think? Agree or disagree? Sound off in the comments
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