With a brand new director and a much bigger budget to support The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, fans of the franchise hoped that the second movie could capably manage to recreate the vivid scenes of revolting populations, The Capitol’s excess, and above all the magnitude of the arena imagined in Suzanne Collins’ popular Young Adult novel. As Collins’ vision of her heroine Katniss Everdeen grows and expands, so does her vision of the world Katniss inhabits. It was a tall order for director Francis Lawrence to bring the more sprawling Catching Fire book to the big screen, but mostly he manages to retain the heart of the book and many of its key moments, while trimming off some of the fat.

Since the books are all told from Katniss’ perspective, many of the big changes are made so that ideas can be spelled out for viewers since they can’t be accessed stream of conscious-style from her mind. In other instances, changes are made from the film to the books presumably to help narrow the film’s runtime somewhat and to cut out excess characters and tropes. The movie seamlessly blends some of the best dialogue, plots, and imagery from the books while retaining some of the filming tactics employed during the first effort. To Lawrence’s credit, this largely works.

Following are the eight biggest changes I noticed in my screening of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Plenty of other details were changed, of course, and feel free to remark on any changes you feel may have been more noticeable. There are many spoilers in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire book to movie comparison. Do not delve in if you want the film to be a surprise.

Katniss and Gale Hunt

There is less of a strain between Katniss and those who love her. The movie begins with a scene featuring Katniss and Gale hunting, rather than Katniss hunting alone and pining for the moments she used to spend with Gale before he began to shun her and her gifts from The Capitol. Additionally, while Katniss and Peeta are frosty toward one another early on, they work things out fairly quickly.

District 12

We spend less time with Katniss in District 12. There’s a full year between Katniss’ first set of games and the Quarter Quell, and in the book, we get to spend many long months with Katniss before she ever gets near the arena. The set-up is actually quite long in the movie, but we don’t get to see the slow build-up of the peacekeepers setting up their rules, we don’t get to see the electric fence turned back on in District 12, and we don’t get to see Katniss and Peeta training like Careers.

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