The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Director: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci

Rating: PG-13 (intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language)

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.

 

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

By Cole Schneider

The second edition of the Hunger Games saga is really a lot like the first was. Now, this isn’t a bad thing; 2012’s Hunger Games was a surprising success. Much like a Brave New World for the age of reality television, this years Hunger Games begins the plunge into creating a new world order. One could argue that there isn’t really two hours worth of plot development, but the filler serves the series well as it further develops both the characters and the social-political setting. The film also slips into melodrama more than once, but each time it yanks itself back into reality with more bite than existed beforehand.

Jennifer Lawrence, playing the lead character character Katniss, is essential here. Her emotional ambivalence is the catalyst for everything. Unlike so many other recent teen driven movies (think Twilight!), which coerce the audience’s emotional attachment, Lawrence is content enough and trusting enough to allow her excellent supporting cast and more-intelligent-than-they’re-given-credit-for viewership to decide what to think for themselves.

The Hunger Games is a very good, if less than great franchise and those that liked the first film will surely like the second as well. This installment is largely the same, but altogether larger itself. The stadium is more threatening and the stakes are much higher. This time we still care intensely for Katniss, but it’s no longer just her adventure-it’s everyone who has felt the sting of the Capital’s oppression. It’s ours too.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

 

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

By Matt Greene

Sequels have come a long way.  We used to take it for granted that a sequel would be worse than its original, but with the implementation of the franchise, it’s become imperative for studios to make decent sequels. We, the viewing public, should be thankful for this shift, with “Catching Fire” being the latest sequel to match, and in ways better, its predecessor. Bigger budget, powerful imagery, strong performances, and marked improvements in excitement and action make this an intense and enjoyable upgrade to the Hunger Games universe.

It picks up one year after the last games, with Peeta (Hutcherson), Katniss (Lawrence), and the surrounding world of colorful characters reeling from the effects of the last arena as Panem preps for the 75th Hunger Games. Though it has been a year since the first film and the director changed, the world and tone of Panem is consistent with the first film yet better realized and more filled out. Likewise, the dialogue is much stronger, thanks in part to the great cast of veteran actors who bring stability to the young talented lead actors. Specifically, Sutherland’s President Snow is given more screen time, relishing his evil role.

Now let’s face it: Hunger Games is Harry Potter. It’s a wonderful fable with great characters and detailed worlds, led by a reluctant but endearing hero. This isn’t a criticism, just an observation, and of the many Potter replicants, this is the best.  Will it have the critical and commercial endurance of Potter? I’d say the odds are ever in its favor.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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