Francis Lawrence's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has won a round of applause from critics far and wide. And with Jennifer Lawrence's no-nonsense acting skills this sequel is ready to take a bow.
"You fought very hard in the games, Ms Everdeen. But they were games."
Christopher Orr writes in The Atlantic,"This is the warning offered to Katniss Everdeen by a frostily whiskered President Snow early in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the sequel to the 2012 franchise opener. But it works pretty well, too, as a critique of the first film and a promise that this one will be better. Which it is: better directed, better scripted, better cast. Perhaps most important, Catching Fire does a more faithful job of capturing the grim vision of Suzanne Collins's source novels than its rather tepid predecessor. This movie feels hungry."
Christy Lemire can't hold back her surprise at the film. "Here's how effective The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is: I read the book it's based on, I knew what was going to happen, yet still found myself getting caught up in the action, the suspense, the twists. And I still found myself sighing a longing "awww" at the flim's cliffhanger ending, even though I knew it was coming," she writes on her website.
"Once again, Jennifer Lawrence serves as the formidable force at the center of this strange and dangerous world. Her Katniss is fierce but vulnerable, mature beyond her years but accessible in her youthful vitality. By now, we know that Lawrence can do pretty much anything, from comedy and romance to drama and action," she adds.
Lemire isn't the only one in awe of actor Lawrence. Geoff Pevere writes in The Globe and Mail, "And if Lawrence, her marble-goddess face and eyes that radiate quiet rage and unwavering intelligence, again proves she's one of cinema's brightest rising stars, she's smartly complemented by some equally formidable co-stars, especially Philip Seymour Hoffman as the dubiously motivated Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee, Sutherland's President Snow and Jena Malone's defiantly impertinent fellow combatant Johanna. But this added performative gravity only makes Lawrence's transcendent authority over the movie all the more intractable, not to mention potently feminist: This is a man's world, in which a woman will rise to change the rules of the game."
Speaking of feminism, Bob Mondello has something similar to say.
"It's a fact of Hollywood life that the movie industry is dominated by men. Male stars make more money. Male executives make more decisions. And the vast majority of films are about what men do, or think, or blow up," establishes Mondello in NPR.org.
But, he adds, "When it comes to dystopian fiction, there aren't a lot of characters I'd rather have on my side than Katniss Everdeen. The 17-year-old warrior heroine of Catching Fire - Part 2 of the four-part Hunger Games "trilogy," if you can get your head around that - may wear more eye shadow than Cleopatra this time, but that doesn't mean she's not fierce."
And what does her fierceness entail?
"Sent to do battle in the life-and-death TV ritual her totalitarian society uses to help subjugate its citizens, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is an archer who can take out a saber-toothed baboon at 50 paces - and a strategist who you just know will get the better of Donald Sutherland's evil dictator, President Snow, and his new strategist, Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman)," says Mondello.
Congratulations to Hollywood!
Lisa Kennedy is deeply interested in the questions the film poses.
"Oscar-winning writers Simon Beaufoy (of Slumdog Millionaire) and Michael Arndt (of Little Miss Sunshine, credited here as Michael deBruyn) deepen the themes at the heart of Collins' novels: What are the differences between allies and friends? How does one trust not only others but also one's own feelings? Which adults can be confided in, and are there any institutions worth believing in?"
"It's heady stuff in a PG-13 film, albeit one that depicts the violence and coercive force of an oppressive regime," notes Kennedy.
With a sky high 89% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes tomatometer, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire appears to be a poetic coming-of-age year ender. Cheers to the Lawrences!