(Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The odds are far from Katniss Everdeen’s favor in the second installment of “The Hunger Games” series.  Back in District 12, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) prepares for the “Victory Tour,” following her win in the previous 74th Hunger Games. She discovers that her defiance of the Capitol in the previous film has ignited a rebellion throughout the nation’s districts. President Snow (Donald Sutherland) pays visit to District 12 to instruct Katniss that she need not only convince each district of her love for Peeta as the reason for her actions but also convince Snow himself.

“Remember who the real enemy is,” the phrase of mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), sets the tone for the 75th annual Hunger Games Quarter Quell. The last stop on the “Victory Tour” leaves Katniss and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) in the Capitol. This time they are thrown back into yet another Hunger Games, only to be surrounded by fellow victors of earlier games.

The supporting cast features a number newcomers to the film. Sam Clafin (“Snow White and the Huntsman”) as Finnick Odair, and Jena Malone (“Sucker Punch,” “Donnie Darko”) as Johanna Mason bring a sense of danger to their roles as they form an alliance with Jeffrey Wright (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Casino Royale”) and Amanda Plummer (“Pulp Fiction”) as the eccentric and genius characters Beetee and Wiress.  Actress Elizabeth Banks, portrays the role of Effie Trinket as seen in the first movie, but this time we see the injustices infringed upon her and how much she truly cares for the victors.

I recommend viewers to watch the film in IMAX to enhance the experience.

Although the first “Hunger Games” movie remained true to its book, “Catching Fire” captured Suzanne Collins’ story like no other sequel movie has done. Often, literature adaptations fail to embody the very essence of the story itself, and in doing so fail to succeed in reviews. “Catching Fire” encompassed all the elements of the book: action, sacrifice, emotion, and a looming sense of danger.

“Catching Fire” played in 4,163 locations in North America, dominating the box office during opening weekend. Lionsgate increased the budget to an estimated $140 million; the first movie had a set budget of $78 million. This budget went into visual effects, use of IMAX cameras, and due to the sequel’s story line, more expansive filming was needed.

I recommend viewers to watch the film in IMAX to enhance the experience. Each scene is deeper and darker, and the surround sound will throw you off your seat. It will be as if you entered the film itself.

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