Opening in theatres to excited crowds everywhere from director Francis Lawrence and Lionsgate is the next installment of THE HUNGER GAMES: Catching Fire.
This film continues the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) who has returned to her family along with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) since winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games. Along with being the winners, the Capitol sends them around the other districts to do a Victory Tour, which leaves Katniss little time to spend with Galen (Liam Hemsworth).
But Katniss notices that the people in these districts are standing up in their own ways. Trying to keep Katniss and Peeta focused is Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and doing what he must to keep them alive.
President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is not pleased and brings Plutarch (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) on board. Their idea is to bring Katniss back into the Hunger Games by invoking The Quarter Quell bringing new opponents such as BeeTee (Jeffrey Wright), Gloss (Alan Ritchson), Finnick (Sam Claflin) and Johanna (Jena Malone).
This competition is like no other, as Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch know that to win could change Panem forever!
FINAL WORD: Lawrence as Katniss seems to have had no problem jumping back into her character. For Katniss there is the struggle in wanting to run with Galen and protecting her family. Her performance in this film is interesting to watch as one challenge after another is placed and Lawrence delivers. She will always be Katniss Everdeen.
Hutcherson at Peeta continues to be the unrequited love of a boy. It is honestly painful to watch Katniss give him pecks-on-the-cheek of hope and then dash them. His noble sacrifices don’t seem to diminish one inch from the first film. Hutcherson is that that guy who can’t quite compete against Galen but won’t give up on Katniss either.
Speaking of Galen, there isn’t much here for Hemsworth to do but he does get to kiss Lawrence so that’s a bonus. He is also a good guy who wants to do what he must and that means paying any price the Capitol wants to charge.
Harrelson as Haymitch gets to be a little mysterious in this film. Always looking out for his warriors – it is what they don’t see coming that is a nice touch. I’ll take seeing Lenny Kravitz anytime so ten minutes or two, his return as Cinna is always a welcome treat.
Stanley Tucci as the white-teethed-kinda-creepy Caesar is always a delight and there wouldn’t be any other announcer I would accept. Elizabeth Banks as Effie brings about a different side of herself this time around. Still overdressed and still fabulous her investment is, this time around, seemingly more personal and affectionate.
Other cast include: Jack Quaid as Marvelo, Taylor St. Clair as Ripper, Sandra Lafferty as Greasy Sae, Willow Shields as Primrose Everdeen, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Nelson Ascencio as Flavius, Lynn Cohen as Mags, and Stef Dawson as Annie Cresta.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give HUNGER GAMES: Catching Fire three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. Fans of the books are not going to be disappointed in the film no matter what anyone says. The book character of Katniss has been brought to life by Lawrence and she once again brings the spirit of who fans have come to love to the screen.
The CGI is pretty spectacular which is important when pulling off the expected fabulous costuming. There are very few slow points as the film jumps into action fairly quickly. I do wish there had been more of an expansion with the arena characters. It seems they sort of had a flashy quick introduction and then poof!
With a story that has many films to its name, it is set up for Katniss and President Snow to bring it all full circle with the next film THE HUNGER GAMES: Mockingjay. It is clearly an adventure film and it has continued to do what fans are loving – gathering a group of friends, camping out a little and enjoying each others company for a fun night at the movies. THAT’s something I will always get behind!
In the end – every revolution begins with a spark!