After nearly a year and a half of waiting, “The Hunger Games” trilogy is back with a
vengeance in the release of its second installment, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” The first film laid a good foundation of the world of Panem and controlling nature of the Capitol, thanks to film’s first director Gary Ross. However, the second film is taken to new levels thanks to a larger budget, better cinematography and the brilliance of director Francis Lawrence.
The film picks up after Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) made history by co-winning the annual Hunger Games, after Gamemaker Seneca Crane made a slip-up. Katniss is clearly struggling from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but must keep her composure as she is forced on a government-sponsored Victory Tour. She must also convince the districts and President Snow that she is in love with Peeta, despite tension between the two as Katniss’ feelings towards longtime friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), get in the way. The Victory Tour quickly spirals out of control as districts begin rioting and protesting against the Capitol and President Snow. Snow punishes the districts by announcing that for the third annual Quarter Quell (75th Hunger Games), two existing male and female victors from each district must compete again in a fight to the death. Katniss and Peeta are once again thrown into the arena. This time, however, they are not fighting against frightened children. Instead, they are up against what their mentor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) likes to call “experienced killers.”
The movie’s large success can be attributed to Jennifer Lawrence, who ties the film together with her character’s conflicting emotions, extreme physical strength and utter devotion to her friends and family. Characters such as Effie (Elizabeth Banks) and Haymitch are explored in depths that even the book could not touch on. New characters played by Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair), Jena Malone (Johanna Mason) and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee) help steer the film away from feeling like a repeat of the first. Overall, “Catching Fire” is an exemplary adaptation and sequel that leaves the audience hungry for more.