“May the odds be ever in your favor!” This iconic statement heard throughout the dystopian world of Panem could not be further from the truth—especially for Katniss Everdeen, “The Girl on Fire.” Directed by Francis Lawrence, the highly anticipated sequel Catching Fire stays true to the essential points and concepts from the bestselling book series by author Suzanne Collins.
The film opens with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) lurking in the forbidden woods, doing what they love most—hunting. Although victorious at the close of the first film, Katniss seems to be struggling with some version of post-traumatic stress disorder as she arrives back to her dissolute home with her partner, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). It is immediately clear their victories did not alter the rough times endured by members of her district. Her personal life is doubly complicated by an uneasy attraction towards Gale while keeping up appearances of her fabricated love affair with Peeta. Now forced to take a victory tour through the districts of Panem with Peeta, the two unwittingly fall into a dreadful trap that no one saw coming.
Further drama unfolds as President Snow (Donald Sutherland), announces the start of the “Quarter Quell” – a special game that takes place every 25 years. In spite of Katniss previous victory, this hunger game pits previous victors to a test of overwhelming obstacles that guarantees only one ultimate winner. Snow wants to stress to all citizens that even the strongest cannot overcome the capital, by working relentlessly to make an example of Katniss and destroy the rumbling of rebellions throughout Panem. In order for Katniss and Peeta to make it to the end of this new game successfully, they must strategically align themselves with the best victors and capitalize on their special skills to survive this insanely crazy obstacle course.
Just like the first movie, Catching Fire has an extremely slow start before any real action takes place. At times Katniss seems oblivious to things happening around her, which is ironically funny, considering all the events that spiral around her actions – good or bad throughout. Overall the engrossing storyline and state-of-the-art special effects effectively masked any shortcomings with the film.
Catching Fire is destined to burn up the box office as it sets the stage for Mockingjay, the two-part finale of the franchise. With new cast additions that include Philip Hoffman as the new head game maker, Plutarch Heavensbee; Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer as Beetee and Wiress, two asocial geniuses from District 3; and Sam Claflin as the handsome and deadly Finnick Odair, this installment will satisfy loyal fans and create new ones for the film series. You don’t want to miss this film!
Very Good (4 stars)
Running time: 146 minutes
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