Editor Showdown: Debating the Amount of Time in the Catching Fire Arena

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OK, now that we've had a whole week to digest everything that is the EPICNESS of Catching Fire, there's one area of the movie that myself (Amanda) and my cohort, Kaitlin, would like to discuss: Did they spend enough time in the Quarter Quell arena?

I (Amanda) think they adequately covered that aspect of the book, while Kaitlin would like to have seen a little bit more action and detail in the arena. Let's discuss, shall we?

Amanda, Editor: First of all, OBVIOUSLY I would have loved if every single detail from the book was shown on the big screen. Seriously, I probably would sit through a 17-hour long movie that was an exact reenactment of the book, but that's not how movies work. That being said, I think the depiction of the arena on the big screen was perfect.

OK, yes, the beginning part dragged on just a tiny bit, and I was pretty anxious to actually get into the arena. However, I've read Catching Fire twice (and have seen the movie twice) and even though I knew everything that was happening, I was still completely riveted. I was quite literally on the edge of my seat. Everything about the arena was so intense, I don't know if I could have handled any more.

Francis Lawrence did an impeccable job of bringing the arena to life and making it a character in and of itself. He made a great point about not going too in depth with character deaths in the arena in a recent Vulture interview, where he said: "Yeah, but I have to say, quite honestly, I've never been really that interested in gore anyway. I'm more interested in the emotional impact of an attack than the actual gore."

Couldn't have said it better myself. Bravo, Francis! (And the rest of the cast too.)

Kaitlin, Associate Editor: I loved, loved, LOVED Catching Fire, way more than The Hunger Games. Heck, maybe even more than life itself. (Too far?) However, if I had to make a complaint, it would be that there wasn't enough time spent in the physical arena.

Although I agree with Amanda that you can't ever have an exact reenactment of a book on the big screen, I believed that there was far too much time spent getting from the beginning of the film to the Game itself. Instead of spending time in practically every district, as well as depicting President Snow's (albeit, cute) granddaughter, we should've been brought to the training room quicker, then the Quarter Quell.

It's not that we didn't get enough of the scenery or a look at the creatures — because everything from the poison fog to the howler monkeys to the Jabberjays was sheer perfection — it's that the biggest details from the characters' storylines were cut short. In the book, we're not supposed to be totally aware of Johanna's allegiance until the very end. But in the movie, because there was a limit to how much of Jena Malone's character was shown, it feels like they just made her likable from the get-go rather than develop her deeper characteristics. And forget about Finnick. Besides asking if Katniss wanted a sugar cube, you can barely tell that Sam Claflin's alter ego uses his rugged handsomeness to his advantage. Instead, he's an ally from the moment they reach the Cornucopia. I wanted more sexually-manipulative Finnick!

My final point is that the deaths were barely acknowledged inside the arena. They were super-quick; too quick if you ask me. They didn't need to be gory kills, but they should've been more concrete. I can barely process what happened with Gloss and Cashmere! The only death I appreciated was Mags' because she sacrifices herself exactly how I pictured from the novel to the movie. Again, I'm a complete Hunger Games fangirl, but it would've been nice to see more of the Games. It is called The Hunger Games after all.

What say YOU about this topic? Were you happy with the way they conveyed the arena on the big screen? Or would you have liked to see more? Start the debate in the comments section!

MORE on Catching Fire, plus spoilers from Mockingjay!

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  • mae

    when katniss gets shot or when she see peeta for the first time

  • Habibah

    In the books, the games were rushed. I agree they didn’t show Katniss and Peeta’s relationship develop in the Arena but other than that, they included all the necessary parts in. They did need to show Finnick’s character a whole lot more but i have to say, thing movie was SO much better than The Hunger Games. If this film was good, think how amazing Mockingjay part 1 will be so im going to be waiting on that instead of complaining on and on and on about Catching Fire :)

  • bay

    Well,even the book does’nt really show much about the arena.

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  • Molly

    More arena would’ve been even better!

  • Hope

    They could’ve spent more time training and in arena but I still loved it!!!!!!!!!!

  • cheewawa

    Kaitlin. there was only like 40 min of the arena. in a 2 hour movie!

  • April

    agree with kailtin. didnt need snows grandaughter

  • kaelie

    I have to agree with Amanda on this one!

  • Victoria

    It was perfect, but I would like to have seen more of Katniss and her arrow and Finnick with his trident. Still, it was amazing.

  • Keyona

    I think the time in the arena was perfect, BUT what they didn’t spend enough time on was the relationship between Katniss and Peeta!! Soooo many of their great moments getting to really know each other from the book got cut out (i.e. rooftop scene, making the book together, all of Peeta’s super sweet yet sincere lines), but Gale got an added (and totally unnecessary) goodbye scene? Katniss has all of Mockingjay Part 1 to spend with Gale, but in the movie, we didn’t get to see her develop a solid relationship with Peeta which is really important in Mockingjay.

    • Mary

      Its going to be on the dvd of them in the roof as the extended scene, at least this director brought the imagination more into this movie than the previous director (Gary Ross)

  • Sydney Rose

    Agree with both. Catching Fire is my fave of all 3. Casting was perfect. Arena was Perfect. Performance was perfect. It was exactly how I imagined and MORE!
    But I really would’ve liked to see some flashbacks from each of the districts experience in the arena, and show how they became victors in their own games. I think that would’ve enforced more of the cruelty of Snow’s decision to put them back and the devastation of making them go through it all again. But yes, you can’t fit all that in..but I agree with Kaitlin in terms of Snow’s granddaughter scenes. Never the less im glad that non book readers still really loved it even though I felt they are missing so much more back info.