“Catching Fire” lives up to the hype surrounding its predecessor

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Catching Fire” is on fire. The film successfully builds upon the success of “The Hunger Games” and improves from all the faults of its predecessor.

The film opens with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) standing in the middle of the forest. Katniss starts out the film alone, which is a metaphor for her throughout the entire film. Then the film embarks on the Victory Tour––a tour through all the districts where Katniss and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) celebrate their winnings while simultaneously inciting rebellion. From there, the film moves onto the 75th Annual Hunger Games, the Quarter Quell, which results in past tributes being chosen to compete. The movie has a lot room to be repetitive, but luckily, it never is.

Once in the arena, the movie moves at a breakneck pace sending Katniss and fellow victors. through a series of challenges that include a poisonous fog, bloody rain, screaming birds, and many other creative death traps. This portion of the film is the most exciting and features Lawrence’s performance at its best. The intensity the Oscar-winning actress brings to the role is unparalleled to most YA adaptations.

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The biggest improvement of “Catching Fire” over “The Hunger Games” is the lack of the shaky-cam technique. Director Francis Lawrence shows the audience what’s happening without inducing nausea, while still portraying Katniss’s mindstate. The other element that elevates the film is the themes of revolution and oppression. The first film only hinted at these themes, but “Catching Fire” expands upon them in great detail.

The film’s only misstep is the love triangle between Katniss, Gale, and Peeta. It always feels half-baked, like it’s only there when it’s necessary for the plot. There’s also the fact that there’s no question over who Katniss should choose, because her relationship with Peeta is interesting and complex, whereas her relationship with Gale is about as dull as his character.

“Catching Fire” features some great acting too, led of course by Jennifer Lawrence. To single out a few actors would be an insult to everyone else. The film is a great achievement and ends in a way that’s brutal and is a figurative punch in the gut to the viewer. “Catching Fire” thankfully leaves the viewer anticipating the next installment in the series instead of dreading it (see “Twilight”).