The Hunger Games: Catching Fire takes all of the elements from the first film and does them better with help from new director Francis Lawrence. You hardly ever hear that the sequel is better than the original but trust me, in this case it is. There’s moments where you can literally feel the book come to life. While not everything from the novel can make it into the movie (as always), they’ve managed to keep it as close as possible. I’ve compiled a list of things I noticed were different between the two. These aren’t the only things I noticed but they were the ones that stood out the most. None of the changes took anything away from from the storyline. Sometimes scenes are left out because there’s another way of accomplishing it, keep that in mind.
1. Plutarch Heavensbee’s Mockingjay Watch
When Plutarch Heavensbee takes Katniss out on the dance floor at President’s Snow party, it’s where we secretly learn that he’s on her side. Like Bonnie and Twill who put the Mockingjay symbol on a piece of bread that they could eat to hide the evidence, Plutarch has a gold watch he carriers in his pocket, that with the run of his thumb can display a Mockingjay and just as fast as it was seen, can disappear. The second clue we get is when Plutarch tells Katniss, “It starts at midnight” except he wasn’t talking about the meeting at all, he’s referring to the arena she’ll soon find herself in. But while they do meet under the same circumstances in the film we have no idea if the watch even exists and he doesn’t give any clues about the upcoming Hunger Games. In the book, Katniss is left thinking about Plutarch’s disappearing Mockingjay watch. He was “almost clandestine” as she says, but in the film there is nothing done to make her skeptical of his actions. You don’t learn anything until Katniss sees him on the hovercraft with Haymitch and Finnick, that’s when you realize where his loyalties stand.
Plutarch steps back and pulls out a gold watch on a chain from a vest pocket. He flips open the lid, sees the time, and frowns. “I’ll have to be going soon.” He turns the watch so I can see the face. “It starts at midnight.”
“That seems late for–“ I say, but then something distracts me. Plutarch has run his thumb across the crystal face of the watch and for just a moment an image appears, glowing as if lit by candlelight. It’s another mockingjay. Exactly like the pin on my dress. Only this one disappears. He snaps the watch closed.
2. Snow’s Granddaughter
Not much is known about President Snow’s granddaughter or any other family members he might have. In Mockingjay, Johanna Mason quickly mentions her when she votes for the proposed 76th Hunger Games with tributes from the children of the Capitol. This comment let’s us believe that she’s between the ages of 12 and 18. In Catching Fire the movie we’re introduced to his granddaughter, who’s recently begun wearing her hair in a one-sided braid like all of her friends. To Snow’s obvious annoyance and our amusement, she is a fan of Katniss Everdeen, the very person he wants eradicated.
“Why not?” Johanna retorts. “It seems very fair to me. Snow even has a granddaughter. I vote yes.” (Mockingjay)
3. Peeta’s Painting of Rue
Both Peeta and Katniss’ private sessions with the gamemakers are vital scenes in the book that leave both of them with a score of 12, making them the number one target in the upcoming Hunger Games. The painting Peeta creates of Rue is a sign of rebellion to the Capitol. Unlike in the movie where Katniss walks into the room and sees the painting of Rue on the ground, in the book it’s specifically stated that it’s covered. The reason for the change makes sense, it gave reason to Katniss’ impulsive decision to hang Seneca Crane during her session.
I think of how ruffled the Gamemakers were when I entered the gym for my session. The smell of cleaners. The mat pulled over that spot in the center of the gym. Was it to conceal something they were unable to wash away? “You painted something, didn’t you? A picture.”
“Did you see it?” Peeta asks.
“No. But they’d made a real point of covering it up,” I say.
4. Bonnie & Twill / District 13
Bonnie and Twill are two runaways from District 8 whom Katniss encounters in the woods outside of District 12. They tell her about the uprisings happening in the other districts and most importantly about the existence of District 13. It was known in advance that they wouldn’t be apart of the film because they didn’t cast those roles but the question remained on how Katniss would be introduced to the idea District 13. Signs of the beginning of a revolution are brought to the screen in another way. As seen in the trailer there’s a Mockingjay spray painted in a tunnel as well as the words “The odds are never in our favor” that expresses the districts unrest. The people have become more defiant and are ready to rebel against the Capitol. President Snow mentions District 13 during his talk with Katniss in her house before the Victory Tour saying how it’d be unfortunate to see District 12 end up the same way. Then, at the end of the film Plutarch is the one who tells Katniss that they’re on their way to District 13.
5. Effie’s Goodbye
In the book everyone in the Capitol is sent home after the stunt the victors pulled during the interviews. This meant that Effie didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to Peeta and Katniss before they’re sent into the arena. In the movie, she does, with tears in her eyes, “You both deserve so much better.”
“Then we’ll never see Effie again,” says Peeta. We didn’t see her o the morning of the Games last year. “You’ll give her our thanks.”
“More than that. Really make it special. It’s Effie, after all,” I say. “Tell her how appreciative we are and how she was the best escort ever and tell her . . . tell her we send our love.”
6. Katniss’ Pregnancy
Peeta drops the bomb about the baby in the same way as the novel but it’s quickly dropped after that. In the book it’s continually used as a tactic to help in the games.
But Finnick has dropped all his weapons to the ground. “Better not exert yourself. Not in your condition,” he says, and reaches down and pats my abdomen.
Oh, right. I’m supposed to be pregnant, I think.
“It’s okay. It’s just her hormones,” says Finnick. “From the baby.”
“Go ahead. Try it. I don’t care if you are knocked up, I’ll rip your throat out,” says Johanna
7. Haymitch’s Games / The Second Quarter Quell
After the announcement of the Third Quarter Quell and the reapings, Peeta and Katniss decide to watch the Hunger Games’ of the past victors to have an idea of who they are up against. Although Haymitch isn’t competing the two decide to watch his (the 50th Annual Hunger Games), as it’s the only Quell they have. Having this in the book helped build Haymitch’s character and you finally get to learn how he managed to stay alive during his Games. Even though it didn’t make it’s way into the movie, back in 2011 some fans put together a twelve minute video on how they believe the Second Quarter Quell played out based on the book that you can check out here. It’s really well done and helps fill the void left from the film.
Later that day, another tribute is killed in combat and a third gets eaten by a pack of those fluffy squirrels, leaving Haymitch and a girl from District 1 to vie for the crown. She’s bigger than he is and just as fast, and when the inevitable fight comes, it’s bloody and awful and both have received what could well be fatal wounds, when Haymitch is finally disarmed. He staggers through the beautiful woods, holding his intestines in, while she stumbles after him, carrying the ax that should deliver his deathblow. Haymitch makes a beeline for his cliff and just reached the edge when she throws the ax. He collapses on the ground and it flies into the abyss. Now weaponless as well, the girl just stands there, trying to staunch the flow of blood pouring from her empty eye socket. She’s thinking perhaps that she can outlast Haymitch, who’s starting to convulse on the ground. But what she doesn’t know, and what he does, is that the ax will return. And when it flies back over the ledge, it buries itself in her head. The cannon sounds, her body is removed, the trumpets blow to announce Haymitch’s victory.
8. Katniss Doesn’t Get Drunk
When Katniss learns she’ll be going back into the arena for the Quarter Quell she goes over to Haymitch’s house, gets drunk and wakes up with a hangover the next morning. In the film we see Katniss take one long sip before handing the bottle back to Haymitch.
“I came for a drink,” I say.
Haymitch bursts out laughing and slams the bottle down on the table before me. I run my sleeve across the top and take a couple gulps before I come up chocking. It takes a few minutes to compose myself, and even then my eyes and nose are still streaming. But inside me, the liquor feels like fire and I like it.
He nods at the bottle. “Can I have that back now?”
“No,” I say, wrapping my around around it. Haymitch pulls another bottle out from under the table and gives the top a twist.
When I wake up, I barely get to the toilet before the white liquor makes its reappearance. It burns just as much coming up as it did going down, and tastes twice as bad. I’m trembling and sweaty when I finish vomiting, but at least most of the stuff is out of my system.
9. District Twelves Fence is Never Electrified
Commander Thread takes over District 12 from the previous peacekeepers. Besides getting rid of the Hob and issuing a curfew he’s supposed to make the electrical fence operational. This catches Katniss by surprise when she’s stuck outside of her District and needs to find another way back in. She’s forced to climb up a tall tree (at least 20 feet in the air) and drop over the other side of the fence, causing her to injury her foot in the process. When she arrives back at her house she notices that the male peacekeeper looks surprised to see her since they knew she was in the woods and should be trapped there. None of this exists in the movie.
In the fading light, the chain links look as innocuous as usual. But what makes me jerk back my hand is the sound, like the buzz of a tree full go tracker jacker nests, indicating the fence is alive with electricity.
“From Head Peacekeeper Thread,” says the woman. “He wanted you to know that the fence surrounding District Twelve will now have electricity twenty-four hours a day.”
“Didn’t it already?” I ask, a little too innocently.
10. Peeta Can Swim
The Tributes arrive in the arena to be surrounded by only water. As Katniss swims towards the island Peeta is trapped on his pedestal until Finnick rescues him because he doesn’t know how to swim. In the film, when we first see Peeta in the arena he’s in the water wrestling with the male tribute from District 5. It doesn’t make sense for Peeta to know how to swim as there were no lakes, rivers, seas or oceans in District 12.
I spot him now, still stranded on his metal plate.
– Katniss and Gale kiss three times in the movie instead of two like in the book.
– There’s no secret bread code. In the book, 4 of the parachutes they receive while in the arena are food. They type of bread comes from District 3 and there’s 24 rolls meaning that the rebels rescue will take place on the third day at the 24th hour.
– Johanna lashes out at the Capitol during her interview with Caesar Flickerman.
– Mags doesn’t speak at all.
– Peacekeeper Darius doesn’t exist.