First off, I really enjoyed this installment. Katniss got to show more emotion and I loved how they worked in a little of the PTSD that features so heavily in book 3. Long story short, if you liked the books, go see the movie.
However, the highlight of the viewing for me wasn't anything that happened on screen.
You see, the people behind us in the theater had clearly never read the books. (Neither has my daughter, but she quietly asked enough questions to understand what was going on. She's smart like that.) Anyway, the woman behind us...
There was a lot of the following going on through the film:
"Oh no you di'n't!"
"You go girl!"
"Yeah. You show 'em."
and the like. At first I thought she was just a vocal movie watcher (not the annoying kind so much as just really into the movie). And I foolishly assumed she had loved the books and was enjoying Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of Katniss in this installment as much as I was.
At least until we reached the end. (Minor spoilers ahead, but if you haven't read the books yet...)
For anyone who has read the books, you know that Catching Fire is essentially the Empire Strikes Back of the series. Shit has kind of hit the fan. There's hope but it's not all good news.
The screen went black and the woman behind me, no lie, yelled, "That was some bullshit right there!"
Mind you, I'm sitting there with my kids alternating between making sure they don't go off on her and trying not to laugh. Granted, this isn't as bad as the idiots on the internet who called The Hobbit a rip-off of Lord of the Rings. (Yes, feel free to laugh at that if you didn't hear about it. I still do every time I think about it.)
But seriously, the content of these books is not a secret. It's a dystopian trilogy. You can't expect a happily ever after at the end of the middle book. That's just silly. (SPOILER: If you're expecting happy at the end of book 3, you'll be disappointed too. Amirite?)
Anyway, it never ceases to amaze me when people go to see movies of very recently popular books and have no idea what they are getting into. I mean, if they make a movie out of a book from the 70s now, I wouldn't expect people to be overly aware, but with the advent of the internet, I'm a bit of a snob about this sort of thing.
What about you? Do you normally read the book first (or at least find out something about it) before seeing the movie?
(NOTE: I will admit to being duped by the previews for A Beautiful Mind back in 2001 and not looking into the book or the story. I didn't get pissy about the movie, but it definitely hadn't been what I expected. And I still stand by the fact that I was a new mother and barely sleeping, much less thinking about looking up anything online.)