The Hunger Game: Catching Fire – A Spontaneous Watch

The second episode of The Hunger Game.

In a rare occasion, I managed to have a decent eight hours sleep on Saturday.  I can count how many times that has happened in the past seven months with my one hand.  Jolly mood I was at, without having this wanting to fall asleep every other minute throughout the day, I made a list of suggestions on where to go for lunch.  My wife Cynthia has picked a Chinese restaurant in the airport called Crystal Jade, which is around 25 km from our home.  I was lunching at the same place the day before with my colleague June.  My wife asked if it was OK for me to dine in the same restaurant two days in a roll.  I am happy to.  June has planned to bring her family to Crystal Jade on Saturday for dinner.  Imagine her surprise if I was to tell her that I too have brought my family all the way to Changi for food.  The love we have for Crystal Jade, try not to underestimate.

I did not plan to return home immediately after our little excursion to the east side of Singapore.  After our sumptuous meal, I took out my tablet and secretly check out the movie schedule near our location.  The Hunger Game was showing in a cinema 10 minutes’ drive away from us.  I asked Cynthia if she has an appointment at four and she said no.  So I booked the tickets online and then told her that we were going for a movie.  Everyone loves a little surprise, once in a while.

It was the first time we visited the mall Downtown East.  If Changi – where I work – is far from where we live, Pasir Ris is even more remote.  I do not know what places of interest are in Pasir Ris.  Downtown East is one.  Pasir Ris Park – where we had our dinner later on – is another.

The mall looks different from the rest that we have seen.  We felt as though we were in Malaysia, or in Bandung Indonesia.  There is nothing too exciting inside the mall and the cinema only has four screens.  Perhaps that is the very reason why we still managed to get good seats so close to showtime.

Catching Fire is a two and a half hours movie.  It is a pretty lengthy movie, just like the first one.  At the end of last episode, both Katniss and Peeta from District 12 (I always thought he is ‘Peter’) have won the game – a first time in history to have two tributes surviving the game.  In this second episode, following the tradition, the winner or in this case winners have to make a tour through the districts and pay respect to the fallen tributes.  The concept is kind of odd to me.  I mean, there is this game whereby tributes against their will are killing each other in order to survive.  And in the end, the survivors visit the homes of the fallen ones to … I don’t know … to gloat?  To apologize?  To say, a battle well fought?  Only Panem can think of a sick tradition like this.

But here is the irony.  The movie has gone in great length dealing with character development that is lacking in action but essential in giving meaning to this meaningless game.  And then when the game finally came, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted it because it is so sick that I hate it.  I cannot pinpoint what I am attracted to.  Perhaps I wanted so bad to know how Katniss can beat the game again.  Other moral conflicts, I can deal with them another day.

When Katniss and Peeta are back in the game – think Survivor All-Star – the pace of the movie picked up tremendously.  It may not be as exciting as the first episode because I can more or less anticipate what is to come, it is still exciting to watch.

Like some other trilogies, Catching Fire being the middle episode sandwiched between a fresh beginning and a climatic ending is neither here nor there.  I wish the game was longer, the on-screen romance was more convincing and intense.  I can also understand that if it was so, it would look like a repeat of the first episode.  It is not quite an ending that concludes this second episode, but rather an opening for the third.  Since I am a fan of the franchise, Catching Fire is a must watch, for me.

After the movie, Cynthia and I have decided to have our dinner at Pasir Ris Park.  Long time ago, we used to frequent the place.  After the government has got rid of many of the eating places there (oh those BBQ chicken wings we so dearly miss!), we have stopped visiting.  On our previous visit, it was raining hard.  We still remember how all of us dinners squeezed into every last bit of shelter trying to have our meal without getting too wet.  The restaurant is by the beach and has an open area concept.  On Saturday, we have visited the same restaurant again.  The air was fresh.  Facing the beach in near pitch dark, it was rather romantic.  What a day.

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