Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Movie Review

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Lenny Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Willow Shields and Amanda Plummer.
Directed by Francis Lawrence.


I liked the first movie. I read the books, felt the first book was the strongest, and the movie was a pretty faithful adaptation. I had reservations about how the rest of the franchise would go, but I was impressed at how they were able to improve not only on the second book but on the first movie.  Yes, it is one of those rare sequels where it's better than the first one.

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is living in District 12, almost a year since the Games. She's having nightmares and other symptoms of PSTD, but before the next Hunger Games begin, she and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are supposed to do a victory lap through the districts before meeting back at the Capital.

Pres. Snow (Donald Sutherland) isn't happy with their being two winners from the last Hunger Games, and he doesn't like the symbol of hope that Katniss is becoming. He and new gamesmaster Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) devise a way to crush her. They change the rules of the Hunger Games and make the next one an All-Star edition, where 24 previous winners will be forced to fight.

I was grateful to see the shaky-cam style of Gary Ross gone. Director Francis Lawrence knows how to direct spectacle. The story also benefits from having adults in the Games. No chance for a scared kid to get offed here; these are all experienced winners.  Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer are among the contestants, and they do great.

The movie's success still hinges on its leading lady, and Jennifer Lawrence once again shows she's going to rule Hollywood for the next decade.

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