Sunday, April 13, 2014

Book vs Film - Catching Fire

Talk to many (any) readers and eventually the question will come up.  Is the book better than the movie?  Do the pictures in your own imagination as you turn the pages beat the screen version hands down.  Or is the film better than the book as it brings to life, with amazing special effects and skillful acting, a story that beats a serious of symbols on the page hands down?

I’ve been on both sides of this argument.  Despite many attempts, I could not read The Lord of the Rings trilogy until after I had seen the first film and could get my head around the world and the many characters.  Once I had the world imagined by Peter Jackson in my head I devoured the books.  But in this case the film was better.  However, the disappointment of sitting through an eagerly anticipated film which turned out to be a poor adaption of a beloved book is quite overwhelming. The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper), Horse Whisperer (Nicholas Evans), The Host (Stephenie Meyer) - I am looking at you.  Don’t change the ending. Don’t leave out my favourite characters or storyline unless you make up for it by telling the rest of the story well. Don’t cast someone completely different to what I pictured in any of the lead roles. 

Which leads me to Catching Fire which I finally watched recently on DVD.  In preparation I read the book again to catch up with the adventures of Katniss, Peeta and my favourite character Haymitch.  I never get tired of Haymitch.  He bounces off the page and Woody Harrelson is ideally cast (not something I expected).  In fact the casting is one of the strengths of the film.  Each actor nails their character and in the case of people like Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) add an extra something.  I feel more sympathy for and like Peeta better in the film than I do in the book.  Strangely I like Katniss better in the book.

Catching Fire can be divided into three – the Tour, the 75th Games preparation and the Hunger Games themselves.  The tour on screen felt a little light and not so much was made of the wedding (possibly not a loss to the story).  It’s always going to be hard deciding what to leave out.  The preparation and staging was done well, as were the Games (although it was a shame that we couldn’t see more of the minor characters on screen – they were very secondary whereas they were fleshed out more in the book).  

Of course this is just one person’s opinion but overall I think, where The Hunger Games film beat the book, for Catching Fire I would call it an honourable draw.  Both had their good and bad points so it all evened out.  

I have to say I will be VERY interested in how they adapt Mockingjay to the big screen.  I’ve not made it a secret that I am one of those who was incredibly disappointed at how Suzanne Collins concluded the trilogy.  Maybe this is one time when I wouldn’t mind them changing the ending.  

What do you think?


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