The first half is a rehash of the original, but this time there’s more room to flesh out the characters and explore the political conflicts of Panem. Instead of being trapped by their role as tributes, the lead characters are used as political tools as winners, peddled around to the masses.
Jennifer Lawrence is superb as usual with equal grit and vulnerability. Josh Hutcherson is consistent as the sorrowful yet strong in-game love interest Peeta. Elizabeth Banks plays an amusing garish Barbie Doll Effie, who gives a peek of her human side. The rest of the cast delivers a solid performance.
This franchise continues to struggle against its PG-rating for fighting scenes and uses camera jerks. But new competitors and an elaborate stage compensate with entertaining moments. Katniss and Peeta try to survive clever traps with shaky alliances.
As long as you don’t refer to the book, you’ll get the same entertainment as the first movie with an expanded world of Panem. Katniss manages to defy the odds and her continued development as a rebel fighter is bolstered by a great performance.
Catching Fire is needlessly long, but the franchise makes the most of its big draws – Jlaw and its thought-provoking themes.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire sustains the franchises' appeal as a smart crowd-pleaser with a captivating lead, thanks to Jlaw and a confident script.