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November 20, 2013


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KD Jones

- Saw this tonight with my daughters, and I was confused by the experience. Granted, the theater mangled the visuals with some kind of bizarre projector ghosting and red LED running lights that washed out the lower left corner of the screen in the (seemingly self replicating) low-light scenes, but from what I could tell the visual sense of "dimness" and "gosh I'm sure something must be happening up there" was a good match for the movie's actual content. It seemed like Phillip Seymour Hoffman (who is excellent) was just wasted on this, Donald Pleasance (who is excellent) was only barely saved from being a cardboard cutout by his ability to sneak emotions through the backdoor, Amanda Plummer (who is excellent) was FAR BEYOND WASTED on this, even though she could easily have ripped the place up with that character, if allowed... and I think there were other people around somewhere... oh, Jennifer Lawrence. She's great. I'm glad she managed to prove herself otherwise before succeeding (or whatever it's called) here.
- I agree with Coleman and Chaw here. Without whatever scaffolding the first movie (or the books) created, this would have been some kind of absurdist Norma Rae / Papillon / Run Lola Run pastiche as imagined by Costa Gavras' lobotomized pre-teen self, after the marketing department's work was done. Or something.
- At first I thought "well... the lack of visual impact due to a faulty screening blew the actual project for me." But then I thought "hey... if sub par visuals managed to suck THAT much life out of the story, maybe I was actually saved from a fate worse than beguilement by the theater's incompetence."
- Now I'm going to have to see it screened properly. But I am very, very afraid: if it works for me next time, I will have to accept that I am a great deal more shallow than my worst, most damning nightmares have ever impugned.

Oliver Michael

Hey, learn how to spell and then become a critic. Also I bring up any movie I wish to bring up in polite company because polite company is defined by how we treat one another, not by our personal tastes.

Gavin Sealey

I enjoyed the review though I disagree with with it. That Katniss doesn't do anything particularly clever or heroic is actually one of the positive features of Catching Fire. She is like a pawn that other pieces are sacrificed for so that she is promoted to queen.


Actually, now that I've seen the movie, I can amend that the movie actually does do a little something with how helpless Katniss is, and in fact, this is probably the best popcorn movie of the year (except for Gravity of course). Considerably better than both its source novel and the previous movie.


Twilight Rules, dumbass!


Thank you to Walter Chaw for the review and thank you for the excellent comment, Chris Coleman. This helps me make sense of how much it hurts me to see these big budget soulless franchise movies. The worst part is, as Mr. Coleman points out, the increasing sense of loneliness I feel when I'm the only person in a theater not laughing at the racist caricatures the likes of a Transformers film or the hatred I feel for these cinematic magicians who somehow turn bottomless production budgets into utterly unremarkable lifeless CG-effects reels interspersed with actors reciting expository or "snarky" lines.

Ash Talon

In other words, it's just like all the other vacuous, tentpole films Hollywood churns out. A shallow event that will quickly be forgotten. Just like a parade, which this franchise apparently loves. I've learned to kinda dread watching big studio productions.


"Katniss is a hero, though she doesn't do anything very heroic--she's essentially rewarded for being a symbolic object both sides (the haves and have-nots) do their best to exploit."

Not that I recommend the original book series by any means, but it does do a lot more with the idea that Katniss survives, and is useful to both sides, not because she's particularly heroic but because she's a vessel for a narrative they've imposed upon her. I suspect Suzanne Collins has a background in marketing, because all the interesting parts of the books center around P.R.

Chris Coleman

"It'll be the type of movie you hope no one ever brings up in polite company because you don't want to look like an asshole."

Exactly, exactly, exactly. Do we give up the good fight? Do we sigh and allow that it's not just about 'bad' movies anymore, but about monolithic commodity fetishism that has essentially erased any last linkage, even any possibility, of commerce commingling with entertainment commingling with art?

I used to like going to bad movies because they were fun. The cheap ones still are, the ones made by human beings who just weren't taking it seriously, or any sundry vicissitude that contributes to the creation of bad movies. But man oh man, to witness the modern blockbuster feels like staring into the gaping-hot maw of the Beast. They're these Kantian nightmares, where every character is quite literally and merely a means to an end (be it for marketing, for 'fan service,' for easy plotting), where every last nook and cranny has been seeded by ad-men who squelched their souls many, many sad years ago.

Fascism, I tells ya! Emergent fascism! Or just entropic banality. But that's probably the same thing. And the worst part, oh the absolute worst of it, is when you're sinking into your seat in abject horror at one of these inhuman cinema-products, and then you glance around and discover that everyone else in the theater is in rapt attention. Then you die a bit inside and start prepping for the wilderness, am-I-right?

Anyway, you remain a beacon of bright in a very big dark, Walter. Good to hear you're getting over that depression, because we need ya now more than ever.

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