SPOILERS AHEAD. You've been warned.
Madeleine: Callie! Like a lot of America, we both saw Catching Fire this weekend. Let's talk about it!
Callie: Ok, I have two complaints: the first was that there was too much spit when people made out.
Madeleine: There was a lot of spit. I think that's because they were kissing AND crying a lot.
Callie: The second is that no one in the Capitol had eyebrows.
Madeleine: And that's a big thing for you.
Callie: I get that it's a dystopia but some things go too far.
Madeleine: Rein it in, Panem. Are you a fan of the books?
Callie: Yeah, I really like them though I haven't read them in a while. I was really fanatical about it in my day and forced all of my friends to read them.
Madeleine: So how did you feel about the first movie? Because I know most book fans (myself included) did not like it.
Callie: I didn't like the first movie! I mean, I didn't hate it, but I was disappointed. My biggest problem with it was that it wasn't sad enough — which is hard to do, considering that it's about kids murdering each other and starving and toiling.
Madeleine: You're right. It seemed trivial. But Catching Fire did a good job correcting that. I really appreciated the way they wove in Katniss and the other former tributes' PTSD. I would actually say that Catching Fire — as our friend Meredith at io9 pointed out — did a good job correcting things in general.
Callie: Yeah, I think it handled her PTSD really well — and it retroactively did a lot to highlight the inhumanity of the premise of the first movie. When they went to District 11 and saw Rue's family standing under the image of her face and crying I was, like, quietly moaning into my Cherry Coke.
Madeleine: I was sobbing, Callie! SOBBING. I actually started crying almost as soon as the opening credits ended, which — to be completely honest — is probably more about me than it is about the film. But yeah, I cried at any mention of Rue, I cried when any of the tributes died, I cried over Cinna. At one point, I audibly whispered to myself to "get it together."
It was a cool, super chill movie for me, in other words.
Callie: I saw it twice and cried the whole time and had to have someone hold my hand on my second viewing BECAUSE I KNEW WHAT WAS COMING.
Madeleine: Good. I am glad that we are two emotionally stable people.
Callie: Also: "Are you seriously mad at me for not being enough like Peeta?" — a real thing my boyfriend said to me this weekend. The answer, of course, was yes.
Madeleine: When was the last time your boyfriend made you a beautifully frosted cookie?
Callie: Um, NEVER. And he never threw a bag of flour in his life.
The other thing that was really noticeable for me was the fact that everything just looked so much better. I remember after the first movie there was an article about the first movie's fashion in the NY Times. A lot of people argued that that Blade Runner did so much cool stuff fashion-wise, and the series — also being a dystopian society set in the future — had the potential to do that, but it didn't. Do you remember in the first movie how everyone in the Capitol wore black leggings? Like a popular girl in middle school in 2006?
Madeleine: Yeah, the Capitol was so underwhelming initially. But in Catching Fire, Effie turns up in an Alexander McQueen dress made of monarch butterflies and all those black leggings were but a distant and sad memory.
Callie: Not a legging in sight! (Or a pair of eyebrows, sigh).
I think the movie did a lot to make Peeta seem more manly — I read something about how the director purposely made it so he didn't have trouble swimming at the start of the Games. And they took away all his paintings! What did you make of that?
Madeleine: I think it was because Peeta was such a drip in the first movie and that made it hard to buy that Katniss could really struggle between him and Gale. I actually liked Peeta a lot in this movie even though Gale (book Gale, not movie Gale) is more my speed. I don't get why people give Josh Hutcherson such a hard time.
Callie: In some reviews I read, critics expressed disbelief at the idea that Katniss would want to sacrifice herself for Peeta, which I tried to wrap my head around, but I think I'm too inculcated into the cult of Peeta? I couldn't be objective about it!
Madeleine: I'm happy you brought this conversation around to Katniss because I was really struck in this movie by how profoundly badass she is. I don't see how anyone could doubt that she would sacrifice herself for anyone she cared about. I think she would die for practically anyone in District 12. I was also — once again — really impressed by Jennifer Lawrence. Katniss is such a stoic character that she could have played the part while doing very little, but instead she brought her so much depth. I actually believed that she was struggling between Peeta and Gale, which is not something I felt in the books. With book Katniss, it was like "You don't like either of them! Quit trying to choose and instead move in with Haymitch and get drunk all the time!"
Callie: Yeah, I have a lot of thoughts about Katniss as a character, and I think the movie really played up certain aspects that I find particularly interesting. First of all, I think the whole love triangle thing is very telling because, like, Katniss doesn't have time for it at all. She is busy trying to keep everyone from dying. But (from what I remember of the book) the love triangle seemed much more out in the open in the film. That, to me, is interesting — because I think, in condemning the lifestyle of everyone who lives in the Capitol, who watches the Games as entertainment, the movie/book implicates everyone who is watching it as being like the Capitol. Which is why all the feverish HUNGER GAMES MARKETING is really cynical. And the love triangle had to be played up in the movie for the same reason it's played up diegetically: because that's what people want to see.
Madeleine: Definitely. WE ARE THE DISEASE.
Before we wrap this up, we need to talk about Jena Malone.
Callie: SHE WAS SO GOOD.
Madeleine: I was very surprised when she was cast as Johanna, but she fucking KILLED IT. She was so awesome and scary and tough. I want her to get a spinoff.
Callie: Yeah I was kind of skeptical too at first but she was so good. I don't think Johanna was that angry in the books, but it worked really well. I think she was my favorite character — she had so many good lines that she delivered so well. And the elevator strip scene was hilarious. That was the J-Lawr-iest we see J-Lawr, when she makes some horrified faces up in that elevator.
Madeleine: Yes, so funny! And I loved when Johanna told the whole Capitol to fuck off. I wanted to stand up and cheer for her.
Callie: People in my first showing did cheer. The Capitol was amused.
Madeleine: In conclusion, I think we agree that this was a really good, really satisfying movie... and that we'll meet up to have our brows threaded off later.
Callie: NEVER. But agreed.