When last we saw Katniss Everdeen, she had just won the 74th edition of the Hunger Games, rescuing not only herself, but also her fake lover Peeta, much to the dismay of the evil President Snow. This, in turn, has sparked a rebellion in the many districts of Panem and brought the ire of the Capitol down on Katniss. No longer can she romp freely in her district, hunting with her love interest, Gale, while attending to her family and neighbors. Now she must live under the shadow of Snow and the Capitol while touring to other districts to promote the games that she despises. And to add to her woes…the President has decided to make the 75th Hunger Games one to remember…by bringing back ALL the former winners of previous games and forcing them into the arena to fight & kill one another! Will Katniss make it out alive? Will she rebel against the President and force his hand? Or will she be forced to fight once again in order to live another day?
As most of those who have already read the Hunger Games series, you know what’s coming so it’s really about how it’s all translated onto the big screen. As our heroine, Katniss, Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence is the embodiment of the lead character. She has the restraint and the emotional resonance to make this character as deep as she seems on the written page. And her supporting cast is top notch as well, most of them returning from the first go-around. Josh Hutcherson is again excellent as Peeta and is given a little more spunk than last time. Woody Harrelson & Lenny Kravitz also return as the District 12 mentor and dressmaker. A few roles are a little more defined this time as Elizabeth Banks is given a little more to do as Effie, the team leader and Liam Hemsworth returns as the love interest, Gale. Also returning is Stanley Tucci (in possibly the only role in the film that got on my nerves) as the ringleader, Caesar Flickerman. And the cast is beefed up a little bit by newcomers Jena Malone, as a Games warrior who wields an axe and the new gamesmaker, Plutarch Heavensbee, who is played by Philip Seymour-Hoffman, possibly one of the best actors out there right now.
So what’s different about this round of The Hunger Games? Well…honestly? Not much. It’s really the same principal idea as the first one however the story IS leading somewhere so it has that going for it. And the effects, while nothing earthshattering, obviously cost more than the first movie. Other than that though, what you have here really is a lot of the same, with Katniss being forced back into the games while trying to protect Peeta. Little does she know, however, that she is soon to find out that her Nightingale imagery as well as her defiance towards the Capitol is paving the way towards a revolution…and THAT is where this series is heading. So don’t be dismayed, while “Catching Fire” isn’t groundbreaking in any way, it IS a nice transition into the final 2 films (yes…they ARE making the final book into 2 movies so as to get MORE of your money!) and all of the pieces are in place. Everyone involved with this movie, from Jennifer Lawrence to director Francis Lawrence (no relation) , does a top-notch job and all is well within the Hunger Games camp. Go in with the knowledge that you’re not gonna be blown away and this film is actually pretty darn entertaining…
Overall Rating: B