The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie poster. Another chance to see Katniss Everdeen blaze on the big screen.

Since we first saw The Hunger Games in theaters Jennifer Lawrence has gone on to become an Oscar winning actress and respected as one of the most talented women in Hollywood. But for fans of the franchise the only concern is having another chance to see Katniss Everdeen blaze on the big screen. In the much anticipated sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire they get a healthy dose of the bow bending beauty.

In case you are not familiar with the bestselling books or the story, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are fresh off their win of the 74th Hunger Games; an event that places boys and girls in a televised death match all for the enjoyment of Capital City and President Snow (Donald Sutherland). They have won the hearts of viewers by pretending to be young lovers and Katniss even more so has become a symbol of hope to the impoverished districts; none of which sits well with Snow. As the 75th Hunger Games loom closer he has a plan to squash their dreams and prove his dominance.

This film is a step in the right direction for the franchise and movie making as a whole. The first film did not quite capture the essence of the districts and fans of the books walked away a little disappointed. These are a people that see their children sent off to die for the enjoyment of the elite. The written word is always better at capturing grief and sorrow, and the film was more about the event than the people in them. In comparison The Hunger Games: Catching Fire uses the games as the catalyst while focusing more on the emotional elements that Katniss sees going on around her. The characters have a bit more solid ground to walk on this time.

There is a lot of content in this film. Director Francis Lawrence has the task of capturing enough of each element to appease the fans of the love story, the battle between Katniss and Snow, plus create and execute the intricate arena described in the book. There has to be lots of action and this one has just the right balance. In fact many may think that once they enter the arena it is over in the blink of an eye. Depending on what you want out of the film this can be good or bad. Fans who thought the first one a tad too violent will appreciate the toned down nature of the games. Granted if you want to see all the district champions in action you better not blink. Many have little or no screen time.

Lawrence is perfect as Katniss and though some thought her a bit too pretty when first cast, there is no denying her onscreen chops. This role needs a solid performance and she delivers. Joining the cast this time around is the magnificent Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee. Hoffman's mere presence is enough to remind you that the film makers are serious about bringing depth and balance. Every line from his mouth is a knock out of the park. Stealing every scene again is Stanley Tucci as the flamboyant Capital talk show host, Caesar Flickerman. Tucci lays it all out there and is comfortable in a role many would be scared to attempt.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will please fans of the books and bring back many they lost in the first go round. The second book deserved a better film and got it. It is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language. The story deals with lots of human depravity and if your young one is a bit sheltered you may want to use caution. Katniss is a strong character and fans would agree a decent role model. Just be aware that some scenes are adult in their tone and feel. I give it 4 out of 5 overindulgences. The film does many things right and very few wrong. Even the 146 minutes felt like they flew by. That in itself is an achievement to balance and storytelling.

Matt Mungle

Review copyright 2013 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.


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