On March 2012, Suzanne Collins' hit novel The Hunger Games made it's name in the movie world. Now, on November 2013, the story continues in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The next chapter in The Hunger Games franchise raises the stakes with director Francis Lawerence continuing the story of Katniss Everdeen. While Catching Fire may not be a fan favorite with for fans of the book, are the odds in the favor of this sequel?
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) may have won the 74th Hunger Games, but the 75th annual event is another story. Just when the victors thought they were safe, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) declares that the latest Hunger Games will be contested by former victors in a scheme to destroy Katniss and prevent a rebellion. With the odds against them, Katniss and Peeta must find to survive the games; and in doing so, the world of Panem will never be the same.
If you coming off from The Hunger Games, you will be satisfied with Catching Fire as the story throws you right back into things. The story of Catching Fire is the definition of a continuation as the world The Hunger Games is further explored and characters like Peeta get bigger arcs. Much like the first film, the first two acts were all about the build up. Thankfully, when we do get to The Hunger Games, it was a different scenario with the victors battling the elements oppose to fighting each other. Overall, the plot felt bigger; which is always great to see in a sequel.
Jennifer Lawrence was once again great as Katniss. Katniss' reluctance was a good direction for the character and Lawrence showed her versatility and strength in the part. Josh Hutcherson was just as impressive in this film as Peeta. It came to the point where I found myself rooting for Peeta above anyone else. Another big difference between the first film and Catching Fire were the other contestants. These characters stood out. It came to the point I would have been dishearten to these characters get killed off. Along with the victors was the film's great supporting cast. The likes of Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Donald Sutherland brought charisma to the cast, along with newcomer Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who was terrific as Plutarch Heavensbee. The cast of Hunger Games only improved this time around as they came together to form a strong ensemble.
Just like the first film, I found myself impressed with the look of Panem. That subtlety in the world's futuristic concept really made an impression on me. I think on the major difference in Catching Fire were the effects. Seeing that the arena was bigger, the movie required for more effects. While some may find this distracting, the use of effects was understandable and ,for me, was alright in quality. The camera worked also improved. There was very little shaky cam this time around. So you can breathe easy if you were worried about that.
A lot of great moments to be found in this film; from the scenes between Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, to the build up towards of the game. However, I can't help but give my full respect to the 75th Hunger Games. It was just bigger, in both scope and tension; which really describe the overall feeling of the film.
When I saw The Hunger Games, I liked it but I wasn't in love with it. After seeing Catching Fire, I can say I'm in love with this series. Like a sequel should be, Catching Fire raises the stakes. It gives us a solid story as well as characters that you'll come to love. Catching Fire is a fantastic continuation and I eagerly await the next installment: The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1.