The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The second installment of the Young Adult novel adaptation by Suzanne Collins. While number one when you take in it's full gross of $424M, if you just consider the grosses collected in 2013 it would fall to #2 (Frozen would also fall off for the same reason) and Iron Man 3 would take the slot since the total would only be $390M. Fire would also top the charts for the first two weeks of it's November 22nd release.
Watching this was a little weird for me. I will seldom just watch the middle part of a series, but I did it on purpose because I wanted to try and evaluate this outside of the context of the series. That being said it worked and it didn't. Take everything I'm about to say with the perspective that I have never read the novels, so I don't know if I'm talking out my ass or not.
The first 30 minutes of this movie drag, and it's not because I'm uninterested in the politics and want to get to "the games". I think this is a weakness of adhering so closely to the source material. Again, my complaint is not about the politics. I think we don't get enough of some of it, but I think we get mired in the unimportant part. The whole concept of the Survivor's tour was probably great in the book, but it serves as an anchor on the movie. I think we could have gone from Snow criticizing the "love story", to giving speeches there in District 12 while showing reactions in the other districts and we would have served the same purpose in about half the time. Then the reaping could have come and dug more into the politics of after the tributes arrive at the capitol.
Once we get into the games however the pace picks up and I never feel bored. The action is well paced and choreographed. Unlike many other movies it's not chopped to bits. It's not long and flowing, but I can deal with a little chop. You also never feel disoriented. The motivations of our smaller group of tributes also solidifies once we're let in on the secret. The only thing that I find odd is how Katniss end up knowing how to short out the dome. Why would this supposedly smart individual, who killed with electricity to win his own game even think about that "spear" hitting the force field. Also the disintegration of the dome and the pieces being hot enough to set fire to a fairly wet forest was a little over the top.
So does the movie work for me. It's a hard call, on one hand I would say no. There's enough flaws in it to hold it back. On the other hand despite knowing what comes in the sequels and my disappointment with them watching this made me want to watch them again. So shouldn't a movie that makes you want to watch more of the same story be considered to "work". It's an odd dilemma. Neither parts of Mockingjay cracked the top slot of their year, but they did hold the top spot for several weeks each, so I may be back to review them down the line.
Final Score: 6/10