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Katniss and Peeta are back, in the second instalment of the Hunger games and things in Panem is getting worse than ever, but with their victory in the games came something that Panem hasn’t seen since the rebellion, hope.
The first Hunger Games movie was a bit of a surprise hit, with the story of Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark capturing audiences around the world’s attention and dragging everyone along for an emotional and visceral experience that received much acclaim. So Catching Fire had some really big shoes to fill and I can say with confidence that it does so admirably. The beautiful state of Panem that was so gorgeously created in the first film is even more detailed and has more character. The dreary districts are beautiful in there stark glumness and complete contrast to luxuriousness and opulence of the Capital.
After Katniss and Peeta returned home safely from their victory in the hunger games, things are different. And even though they may not have intended to do so, they have given the country hope. Hope is something that the Capital and President Snow(Donald Sutherland) in particular can’t allow or tolerate. It is therefore decided that on the 75th anniversary of the hunger games, also called a quarter quell, a very special hunger games be held, one where the tributes be solely selected from previous winners. Predictably Katniss and Peeta both end up back in the games, but that is really the only truly predictable part, as from there on in, things take many twists and turns on a the way to a truly fascinating conclusion.
As with the first film, casting is simply superb. Jennifer Lawrence still portrays the outer strength and inner fragility of Katniss with amazing conviction. Josh Hutcherson(The Kids are all right, Bridge to Terabithia) has grown and matured as Peeta and is no longer the fragile little boy that he was in the first film. But as brilliant as Katniss and Peeta are portrayed it is really the smaller roles that make the Hunger Games movie universe complete. Donald Sutherland as president Snow is brilliant. Woody Harrelson as Haymich Abernathy is again truly fantastic. And of course Stanley Tucci as the ridiclous Caesar Flickerman just shines as bright as ever. Every character feels right and in keeping with the universe that has been created within the Hunger Games.
Director Francis Lawrence(I am Legend, Constantine) does a fantastic job depicting the desperation of the district alongside the gorgeous and luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by those in the capital. The film is beautifully paced with enough emotion, drama and violence to keep everyone entertained. When things arrive at the actual games, is when Catching Fire makes its biggest improvement over the first instalment, because the shaky handy cams that were used during the fighting sequences in the first movie has fortunately been replaced by a more traditional technology that manages to capture the violence and the atmosphere surrounding it so much better.
Overall, Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a fantastic film. With the right mix of emotion and action along a very well written and performed screenplay, it ends up being one of the more entertaining movies of the year and will leave you yearning and waiting for the next two instalments.
Samui times gives Hunger Games: Catching Fire 9 palms out of 10.