Every movie franchise, like every revolution, needs a spark to get it going. The Lord of The Rings, Twilight and the phenomenal Harry Potter have all had that world wide mass appeal, making them unstoppable. Everyone in Holly-wood knows that the basic secret of going from spark to inferno, is to make all the following sequels progressively better. And it is the rarest of rarities when a second film outshines it’s original. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is one of those rarities.
Taking off from where The Hunger Games left her, Katniss has returned home as a victor of the 74th annual Hunger Games along with Peeta. There was of course, supposed to be only one, not two victors, as in all 73 previous con-tests. But instead, Katniss and Peeta pulled a proverbial fast one with those poison berries, willing to commit mutual suicide rather than trying to kill each other for the prize of being the lone victor.
President Snow, again played with sinister perfection by Donald Sutherland, has not taken too kindly to this, letting Katniss know exactly what the score is when he pays her an unexpected personal visit. It plays out like a negotiation with Katniss discussing just how to make up for the “error” she’s made. Unfortunately, the solution will not be easy. It comes down to Miss Everdeen’s compliance to what the president wants from her and douse this spark of re-bellion she’s created,or face a considerably more severe punishment that could involve her loved ones. As the old adage goes, “You can’t fight city hall.”
Rebellion may permeate throughout Panem but it’s the “changing” of the rules of the 75th Hunger Games that really drives Katniss and her co-horts to a whole new level of danger. Jennifer Lawrence, again renders a grand perfor-mance as Miss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire with a character arc that takes her and Peeta into what is affectionately known to the Capitol as the Quarter Quell. There’s nothing more terrifying than finding out that you must go through this ordeal once more.
“Last year was child’s play.” This year you’re dealing with all experienced killers”, Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch warns. He returns as the constantly inebriated mentor to Katniss and Peeta, who, despite his alcoholic state always manages to offer the most sage advice when confronted with the worst of crises.
Elizabeth banks reprises her role as the annoying, overly jubilant, overly made up Effie Trinkett. However you actually get to see her exhibit somber emotions this go round, and not just the happy happy joy joy attitude she usually sports. Plays absolute havoc with her facial makeup.
New comer opponents and allies are just as, if not more colorful, than last time. There’s the golden boy Finnick(Sam Claflin) who apparently has no compunctions about showing his bulging pectorals. Jeffrey Wright informs BeeTee with a quiet genius regarding electricity and inventions, partnered up with Amanda Plummer’s Wiress who seems to have a disturbing inclination for clocks. Former Hunger Games victors come in all ages with Lyn Cohens’ 8Oish Mags, and Jena Malone portrays Johanna Mason as the wild card she was meant to be.
Once the Quarter Quell games get started, there’s little time for our “lovers” to be intimate, although there are a few precious moments, and one particularly shocking announcement during the ever popular Caesar Flickerman show. They’re way too busy trying to avoid the many death traps orchestrated by new head gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The perilous games naturally culminate into a climax that will definitely have fans eagerly waiting for the two part finale in Mockingjay.