"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" ignites positive reviews

The odds are in moviegoers’ favor with the latest installment in “The Hunger Games” franchise – at least, according to critics.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” officially opened in theaters Friday (though screenings began as early as 8 p.m. Thursday night, already taking in $25 million at the box office), and reviews of the film have been mostly positive.

“Catching Fire,” which kicks off the holiday movie season, returns to the world of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), who become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the Hunger Games sparks an uprising in Panem’s districts.

Before heading into the arena – or the movie theater – see what some reviewers said about the film:

"As faithful as Argos or Old Yeller, Snowy or Hachiko, 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' runs no risk of disappointing its absolutely ravenous target audience. Serving up everything from Suzanne Collins' eventful second installment in her trilogy about teenage warrior and rebel Katniss Everdeen that fans could possibly want to see, this is a safe, serviceable, carefully crafted action drama in which the subversive seeds planted in the first story take welcome root." -- Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter.

"Though technically just the bridge between the lower-budget original and the two-part finale still to come, in director Francis Lawrence’s steady hands (gone are the previous film’s needlessly spastic camera moves), 'Catching Fire' makes for rousing entertainment in its own right, leaving fans riled and ready to storm the castle." -- Peter Debruge, Variety.

      "It's largely satisfying as far as screen adventures go, and comes fully loaded with special effects and action scenes, and embellished with the usual brand-name character actors, including the new arrivals Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer. It also has a different director, Francis Lawrence (replacing Gary Ross), who showed he knows his way around the post-apocalypse with the Will Smith vehicle 'I Am Legend.' (Given Katniss' increasingly valiant trajectory, that title would have been apt for this dystopian romp.)" -- Manohla Dargis, The New York Times.

"Overall, the sequel to last year's 'Hunger Games' is grittier and the atmosphere more brooding, which suits the increasingly dystopian theme of the stories. But it also feels like a re-tread." -- Claudia Puig, USA Today.

"[Jennifer] Lawrence's intertwined strength and vulnerability as Katniss were the sine qua non of the first film, and she is the sequel's biggest asset as well. Now an Oscar winner for 'Silver Linings Playbook,' Lawrence has clearly taken this role very much to heart, throwing herself into it to such an extent that she creates genuine emotion from what is essentially pulpy material." -- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

"'Catching Fire' is smoothly exciting but a bit of a tease. It gets mileage out of setting up the Quarter Quell as some ultimate 'Fear Factor' version of 'Deliverance,' yet there isn't a moment of real dread in it. The film also sets up Katniss, with her sizzling (in every way) costumes and goth-Cleopatra makeup, as the feral face of revolt, but the cliff-hanger finale reveals that she is, thus far, a passive agent in this revolution." -- Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

"A considerable upgrade over the first 'Hunger Games' movie, 'Catching Fire' comes across more like a remake than a sequel." -- Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

Tell us: Will you see "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"?