‘Catching Fire’ sets fire to doubts

Mockingjay-Ornamentweb“The Hunger Games” left some readers of the “Hunger Games” trilogy wondering how a book-to-movie adaptation could be so bad. But with the second movie of the trilogy, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” moviemakers blow away fans with a plot that leaves almost nothing from the book out. Director Francis Lawrence demolished all doubts that the second film in the series wouldn’t be good, completely outdoing “The Hunger Games” director Gary Ross.

While the film is long — because almost everything from the book is in the movie — it is definitely worth watching. It doesn’t matter if you are a “Hunger Games” book fanatic or just a fan of the movies, “Catching Fire” satisfies. There’s no disappointment here.

Jennifer Lawrence (“The Devil You Know”) and Josh Hutcherson (“Epic”), who play Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark respectively, have really stepped up their acting from the first film as well. For example, the scene where Katniss and Peeta visit District 11 in the Victor’s Tour is incredibly touching. Their tributes to the deaths of Rue and Thresh in “The Hunger Games” is tear jerking.

Not to mention the new cast is amazing. It includes Sam Claflin (“Snow White and the Huntsman”) who plays Finick Odair, the victor tribute from District 4; Jena Malone, who plays Johanna Mason, the victor tribute from District 7; and Philip Seymour Hoffman (“A Late Quartet”), who plays Plutarch Heavensbee, the new head gamemaker.

The only acting that was incredibly terrible was the scenes between Gale (Liam Hemsworth, “Paranoia”) and Katniss. It may be because Gale and Katniss are just an awkward match — even in the books — but it was almost embarrassing to watch the two characters.

However, the 75th Hunger Games arena is a good screen adaptation from the book, and costume designer Trish Summerville hit the ball out of the park. The costumes of the tributes and the people of the Capitol were stunning and imaginative. Katniss’s wedding dress/mockingjay getup was exactly as I had imagined while reading the book and then some.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” exceeded all expectations and was a great movie. Its box office debut is deservedly the highest-grossing November release of all time, and the film is a great addition to “The Hunger Games” series.

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Film: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
Release Date: Nov. 22, 2013
Genre: Action, drama
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Rating: 4.5/5