The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD]
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In the thrilling sequel THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE, Katniss Everdeen and fellow tribute Peeta Mellark have barely returned home after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games when they are whisked away once again by the Capitol. Forced to leave her family and best friend Gale, Katniss is dispatched on a victory tour of Panem with Peeta, where rebellion is seething in all 12 districts. The Capitol is enraged and ready to strike back... as President Snow prepares the most diabolical edition of the Hunger Games yet.
When it comes to blockbuster franchises, the first sequel frequently offers pumped-up versions of the initial thrills--to diminishing results. Catching Fire, however, the second adaptation drawn from Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy, defies that trend with more finely drawn relationships. With the 74th Games in the history books, Katniss (Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, as comfortable in warrior garb as in designer couture) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson, better than ever) set out on a victory tour across Panem with Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Effie (Elizabeth Banks). Despite her best efforts to feign romance with her co-competitor and to keep posttraumatic stress at bay, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) fears that Katniss's defiant nature will incite rebellion, so he takes a tip from new gamemaker Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and launches a Quarter Quell in which past champions, such as the hilariously bitter Johanna (Jena Malone) and the deceptively arrogant Finnick (Sam Claflin), will fight to the death. Not all tributes are quite so young, like Mags (Lynn Cohen), a senior citizen who suits up for battle and establishes a touching bond with Finnick (Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer play the craftiest teammates). Until the cliffhanger ending, director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) serves up an array of splendors, from killer baboons to the ever-amazing outfits of Effie and Caesar (Stanley Tucci). Most significantly, the script from cowriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) strengthens the bonds between Katniss and Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), who prove themselves more worthy than ever of Katniss's affections. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Top customer reviews
They finally allow Jennifer Lawrence to experience more real emotion in this film. She genuinely made me tear up a couple times because she wears her emotions on her sleeve this time around. Josh Hutcherson is very likeable as Peeta, and you can see why Katniss actually starts falling for him a little in this film. Liam Hemsworth as Gale, however is superfluous. I know in a post-Twilight world it makes sense for the studio to play up the 2 suitors vying for the female protagonist, but nearly every scene with Gale could be easily cut without losing the story. I think I'd call the forced love triangle my only big thumbs-down in this film. The cast of other victors are really good. I particularly enjoyed Sam Claflin who gave a very passionate performance. Philip Seymour Hoffman was also a good casting choice and he does a good job with Donald Sutherland of showing just how vicious the Capitol government can be.
By and large it was what this film did not do that impressed me more than what it did. They were willing to cut unimportant moments from the book. An entire scene was summed up in just a few looks. We didn't need to meet every single victor, just the ones Katniss would actually interact with. It kept the film interesting and engaging without slowing things down unecessarily. There were a number of nods to things in the book, little things in the background which were kind of cool, almost like hidden Easter eggs. I think the only thing I missed seeing was Haymitch's back-story getting fleshed out a bit more. However that's a minor complaint in what I thought was a majorly good film. Catching Fire seriously gets the franchise back on track and should satisfy anyone who enjoyed the books or the first film. It is one of those rare cases where the sequel actual outshines the original, and I loved it.
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