“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” – Review by Jake Peffer

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When The Hunger Games opened up last year it was met with many positive reviews and went on to make almost $700 million worldwide. I was a little skeptical in seeing it because we were almost done with the Twilight franchise and it looked like The Hunger Games was trying to capitalize off that franchises success. Thankfully, the film turned out to be quite good; it had its problems but was leagues better than any of the Twilight films. Now with the sequel, Catching Fire, it takes everything that was good about the first film and makes it even better.

Catching Fire picks up right where the first film left off with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are gearing up to go on the victor’s tour after winning the 74th Hunger Games. Things are going well in a lot of the districts as people are starting to rebel against the capitol. This does not make President Snow (Donald Sutherland) happy and he wants to make an example of Katniss, as well as Peeta. The 75th Hunger Games are coming up which is called a Quarter Quell, every 25 years the Capitol gets to change up the details of the games. Snow decides to make this Hunger Games a victor only games meaning the only people eligible are 24 people who have previously won the games before. Katniss and Peeta both have to try their luck once again in a new Hunger Games and hope to come out of it alive once again.

With this second entry the stakes are even higher as not only do we get another Hunger Games but we also have a rebellion going on at the same time. That makes this film even more dramatic and intense throughout than the first film. Director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) steps in and takes over the franchise to much delight as he has made a sequel that is even better than the original. Everything that was good about the first film is all present here but is improved upon and the new director definitely helped with some of the faults from the first film.

The entire film feels like an emotional rollercoaster as it can go from really intense to adding a little humor to getting very dramatic. Things really do get very intense right from the get go, it’s not just the games that leave you feeling nervous for the characters you love it’s the whole film in general that keeps you nervous. You almost forget about the games completely watching the film as they don’t come into play until later on but nevertheless they are just as tense as the previous film. Something that is definitely improved upon is the use of shaky cam which was something that got to be a little annoying the first time around. There are a few moments here and there in fight sequences where the camera shakes a bit but it’s much more toned down allowing you to see all the action happening.

New film calls for new characters and we get plenty of them here, all of which are played well by the actors portraying them. The best of the new characters is Plutarch played Philip Seymour Hoffman. He is the new game maker hired by President Snow and he comes in to make the games even more difficult and hopefully get rid of Katniss altogether. Some of the other new additions to the cast include Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Sam Claflin as well as a few more that all do well in their roles. Everyone from the previous film who returns all give great performances as well with the standouts being Jennifer Lawrence and Woody Harrelson. Lawrence is consistently giving great performances and it’s no different as she dives right back into the character of Katniss. Harrelson does another fine job as Haymitch as he’s able to combine moments of humor with great dramatic moments.

Verdict: Catching Fire is a step up from the first Hunger Games providing many tense moments and leaves you wanting more after each scene. The performances are top notch once again as are the action scenes making this one of the most entertaining films of the year.

Grade: A-

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