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The "Catching Fire" Trailer: A Close Look

The rise of Gale, the omission of Peeta, and Jennifer Lawrence at her Katniss-i-est.

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Here's the trailer:

View this video on YouTube

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire — directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth — will be released on Nov. 22. The new teaser trailer came out on Sunday, and I can't stop watching it. Some minor spoilers below if you haven't read Catching Fire, but nothing that isn't just an elaboration on the trailer (except at the very end, which I'm clearly marking with a SPOILER alert). Let's break it down.

1) We start with President Snow's narration

The conversation between Donald Sutherland's President Snow (hiss!) and Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) frames the trailer. I imagine that the dialogue has been compressed, because what Snow says doesn't quite make sense otherwise? Snow: "She's not who they think she is. She just wants to save her skin, simple as that." (Is he quoting what Katniss has told him there?) And then, he lays out the threat to Katniss that drives Catching Fire's plot: "She has become a beacon of hope for them. So she has to be eliminated. What do you think?"

2) And then there's what Plutarch says in response....

This bit — during which Plutarch argues that Katniss shouldn't necessarily die, like, now — has more layers of meaning for book readers than newbies. Plutarch: "I agree she should die. But in the right way, at the right time. Katniss Everdeen is a symbol; you don't have to destroy her, just her image. Show them that she's one of us now. Let them rally behind that. They're gonna hate her so much, they might just kill her for you."

Hmm. Since the books are from Katniss' point of view, we never know anything deep about the Capitol leaders' motivations. Is this their hope when the victors tour the Hunger Games victors through the districts? Will the movie try to make Katniss seem like a stooge of the Capitol more than the book did?

3) The District 11 riot scene looks pivotal

I imagine this is when shit gets real for Katniss in terms of realizing what's at stake, and the danger they're in. How great will Jennifer Lawrence be in this scene? Good lord.


5) ... and heavy on Gale.

Let's face it: Gale was barely in The Hunger Games, no matter how hard they tried. If Katniss doesn't start the Games as soon into the movie as possible, then the movie is boring. Therefore, no Gale. But that will change with Catching Fire as the (dreaded) love triangle forms itself.


8) I would love it if we get to know Prim more

One of my biggest complaints about the books — and by the time Mockingjay, the third book, ends, I have about five billion — is how poorly drawn the Prim character is. I think the movies have a real opportunity to offer a corrective there; Willow Shields seems capable in this scene! Prim: "You saved my life. You gave me a chance." Katniss: "Yes, to live." Prim: "No. To do something." P.S. Paula Malcomson, a wonderful actress, plays their mother. Give her things to do, please!


10) The trailer ends with President Snow with Plutarch

Snow: "Her entire species must be eradicated."

Plutarch: "Her species, sir?"

Snow: "The other victors. Because of her, they all pose a threat. Because of her, they all think they're invincible."

11) Which brings me to: a few spoilers!

What there is none of this trailer, but is foreshadowed in the last exchange between Snow and Plutarch, is the second Hunger Games that Katniss and Peeta will be forced into. We're also, therefore, not seeing any of the new characters, particularly Finnick (Sam Claflin) and Johanna Mason (Jena Malone). It's a major spoiler for non-book readers that there's another Hunger Games, but I imagine that as the release date gets closer, new trailers will have to show some snippets from those parts of the movie. Also, there's nothing in these scenes that indicate anything about Katniss and Peeta's fake engagement and, ugh, pregnancy — fine with me.

This movie looks good to me. And considering that after this one, we're heading into the disastrous story of Mockingjay, when Katniss turns awful and sour, and the plot goes to hell, the filmmakers are going to need all of their energy to rescue it. In the meantime, please be good, Catching Fire!