I first saw the poster for this movie, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, plastered at a Seoul subway station a month before it was released here in Korea; I decided not to miss it. I wasn't able to watch the first installment of this series, The Hunger Games, at a theater. But thanks to a local cable channel which kept on replaying the movie over two weeks, I actually saw the middle part, the ending, a few minutes of here-and- there scenes, until I finally caught the beginning. Ha-ha-ha! I think, after seeing Katniss in action over several replays, I can now say that I myself am an archer.
And last week, I went to watch Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark compete at the 75th Hunger Games, at the Lotte Cinema near Gangnam Station, together with my friend Inpyo, whom I haven't seen in years as he left Korea for New York to study at the American Film Institute. Like me, this good friend is also a movie buff, and if ever there's someone in Seoul I could discuss films with, it's Inpyo.
We were able to catch the 8PM showing, and even without having dinner yet, we just rushed in as it was freezing outside.
And just like the first installment, Catching Fire was as brutal and yet colorful. Panem's The Capitol was literally awashed with food, luxury and over-the-top Halloween costumes, while District 12 was awashed with poverty, depression and, well, dirty people.
Although most of us probably could relate to the scenes of District 12, or 11, we would probably still be overwhelmed with all the costumes, hair styles and the grandiosity of The Capitol, not to mention its technology and apartments! How could anyone make a gown that transforms into another gown? Or even emit fire?
This movie's visuals are amazing and impressive. I'm not sure if Katniss and Peeta suffered a certain degree of identity crisis every time they transformed from District 12's pauper look to somebody that should be on the cover of Vogue or GQ, wearing designer clothes that might as well be worth a year's food supply of a village in District 12.
Jennifer Lawrence once again takes command of a scene whenever she's in it. I like her husky voice and her un-intimidating beauty. Some actresses draw you in, not because of how lovely they are (although most of them are), but because they are exceptionally good at transforming themselves into an enigma on the screen. Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close are perfect examples.
You may not like the ending of the movie as it screamed 'be sure to watch the sequel!', and compared to the first installment, this one was a bit predictable. I already knew that Katniss and Peeta would not be killed off at the Hunger Games, but I didn't know what twist there would be since I never read the book. Donald Sutherland as President Snow was as sinister-looking as on the first installment, but I wasn't sure what to make of Philip Seymour Hoffman. I just didn't see him as the head gamemaker. He walked through a few scenes looking like his character in Mission Impossible 3. I could have played his part and the producers could have saved a lot of money. Ha-ha-ha!
I wasn't exactly ecstatic about the movie, but if only to enjoy the visuals, the technology and the traps of the Hunger Games, Katniss and the other tributes' gowns, and of course, to give you an idea why there's a third installment, I'd say you watch it, too.
(Our squid boek-keum)
And as the closing credits were rolling down a few minutes past10 PM, our own hunger games started. We were starving. Inpyo and I knew we were not at The Capitol where food was visually pretty, yummy and was easily available. Lucky for us, we were not in District 12; we were in Gangnam! Ha-ha-ha! And restaurants were everywhere.
We found a restaurant along the alley behind the Lotte Cinema building that was still open. I especially wanted to return to this ojing-eo resturant where I had dinner with another friend this summer.
(Rice with red pepper paste is mixed with the
leftover over low fire)
So, if ever you watch Hunger Games: Catching Fire, make sure you had your dinner already. The hunger should only be on the movie screen, and not on the moviegoer. Ha-ha-ha!