Catching Fire is this year's biggest surprise. That is definitely a positive statement. Dare I say, the sequel to 2012's The Hunger Games was far more... adult than it's predecessor.
Underneath it's glamour, elaborate costumes and set pieces, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a metaphor for today's world. It's a poignant take on how certain figures (or 'celebrities') in the industry are put on a pedestal and celebrated as gods and idols. It's a brilliant comparison to our modern day culture.
On the surface, however, Catching Fire contains nicely choreographed action scenes, the occasional funny, and a fair
bit of emotion in the form of one Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence did not disappoint in her reprisal as Katniss Everdeen, the victor from the 74th Hunger Games, which took place in the first film. A little less than 30 minutes into the film she displayed some of the most powerful emotionally-driven performance that's to be seen by Lawrence in recent memory. It's not just within the first act, but throughout the film that she delivers a beautiful performance becoming of an Oscar winner.
Katniss and Peeta(Seriously, what?!) are last year's victors and are now sent on a tour through the Districts of their fallen comrades/opponents from the previous Hunger Games. The 75th Hunger Games are around the corner and President Snow makes a decision that impacts the future of Katniss and other victors forever. That's the basic premise of the film.
Elizabeth Banks stole the show with her outrageously fabulous performance as Effy, Katniss' and Peeta's Escort. Her scenes were somewhat minimal, but they were in short, sharp, effective bursts. One scene that particularly stood out was her escorting the two to the Presidential Palace; 1) it was a significant turning point in the film, and 2) the way she delivered those few lines she said to prepare Katniss and Peeta were brilliant. Perfectly defined her character.
The ending is what you'd call a classic cliffhanger. Annoying it might have been, but the situation felt right.
A huge gripe with the film; Lenny Kravitz. Sure, his contribution to the music industry is respectable, but maybe it's best if he stays away from 'performing'. While given some confusingly relevant screentime, very little was done on his part to fully utlise it. The last time we see Kravitz' character was satisfying, to say the least. No spoilers here. It was this, along with some of the generic dialogue and somewhat wooden performance of Josh Hutcherson(admittedly an improvement from The Hunger Games), that added frustration to an otherwise tremendous entry into The Hunger Games franchise.
If Catching Fire doesn't get you invested in the franchise, wait until Mockingjay Pt. 1. Or you could wait for the boxset.