Personally, I hate the comparison between The Hunger Games and the Twilight franchise. It's ridiculous. The Hunger Games is an exciting, futuristic action-thriller about teen tributes fighting to the death, much to the delight of the 12 districts in a bleak post-revolution society. The Twilight franchise is just a pile of garbage roasting in the sun on a blistering August day. The only comparison you can draw is that both franchises were popular book series that teens loved, but that's it. The truth is, The Hunger Games appealed to a broader audience in age which should grow even more with the new dark and action-packed sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire starts with the two winners of the previous Hunger Games dealing with the fallout from Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) & Peeta's (Josh Hutcherson) berry feast that never happened. The two may be celebrities, but the powers that be were not amused with the two tributes' ploy. Some people may think that the prologue to the games in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a tad slow, but I rather enjoyed seeing the fallout and repercussions with Katniss, showing up as the game master, and the evil president (played by the always reliable Donald Sutherland). The first 40 minutes of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire may seem devoid of action, but it sets up the whole story moving forward. Building a story is important people. It doesn't always have to be Michael Bay mind-numbing action for two straight hours.
Jennifer Lawrence shines again as the girl on fire who is now becoming a symbol to the disenfranchised of the other districts outside the Capital. Lawrence does a superb job at conveying the PTSD that she is suffering from. Her strong acting abilities help the franchise become more than just a teen action film. Lawrence may show her soft side in the beginning of Catching Fire, but it all changes when she is thrown back into the game and is forced to grab her bow and arrow to survive a very special Hunger Games that turns the whole game on its head. This new game play keeps the story intriguing for the audience. We also get an extended role for Woody Harrelson's Haymitch which is always welcome. Plus, franchise newcomer Phillip Seymour Hoffman is an awesome addition to the cast as the new game master who is ready to wreak havoc on the tributes.
Once the new games begin, the intensity level in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire never lets up. I don't think The Hunger Games franchise has gotten the respect it deserves on the level of intense action scenes shown on camera. The players in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are pushed to the brink both mentally and physically by the other players, environmental conditions and outside forces conspiring against them. Expect a great deal of discussion moving forward between non-fans of the books after the last frame of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. You will be leaving the theater wanting more. Overall, I give The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 3 out of 4 potatoes.
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