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David Edelstein’s “Catching Fire” Review Recovers From Ugly Start

In response to David Edelstein’s 847‑word review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on New York Magazine

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David Edelstein’s “A New Director Makes a Difference in ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’” is an excellent review that gets off to an ugly start courtesy of the bizarre photograph above the headline.

It’d be petty (and wrong) to judge this book by its cover but whoever did the layout for A New Director managed the herculean task of making Jennifer Lawrence goofy and unattractive.

The photograph of her in silly eye-makeup (and sillier shoulder pads) alongside co-star Josh Hutcherson, evincing Keanu Reevesian levels of woodenness, against that puke-green, watercolor abortion of a background is repulsive.

A New Director deserves a better photograph—and there are literally dozens of better ones adorning other reviews of the film.

Fortunately, the review can only and does improve from there. Edelstein is one of the few critics that gives serious (indeed, any) consideration to the difficulties of adapting novel to film. Also, he writes as someone who can enjoy good pulp fiction; when he writes “in the end, ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy is just good dystopian pulp” he means it as a compliment.

A New Director is worth reading for its insight into how the studio’s efforts to make the violence less upsetting and more palatable to family audiences in order to get a PG-13 rating ironically makes the violence more gratuitous and of less consequence—just be sure to quickly scroll down from that awful picture above.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation