In about 10 days, Lionsgate will release The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The sequel to last year’s surprise hit film will surely delight fans of the young adult book and film series. Last night was Catching Fire‘s world premiere in London, England. Early reviews for the sequel film suggest that the new Hunger Games movie is a step above its predecessor, but branches off what director Gary Ross accomplished with the first film in 2012.
Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter believes that, despite a rushed production, the larger budget serves Catching Fire well in creating a deeper mythology and story. McCarthy also praises Jennifer Lawrence’s stellar performance as Katniss Everdeen. McCarthy writes:
Serving up everything from Suzanne Collins’ eventful second installment in her trilogy about teenage warrior and rebel Katniss Everdeen that fans could possibly want to see, this is a safe, serviceable, carefully crafted action drama in which the subversive seeds planted in the first story take welcome root. As before, Jennifer Lawrence is the superb center of it all and the massive success of this Lionsgate release is as certain as the turning of the Earth.
Drew McWeeny from HitFix contends that Catching Fire has the visual flourish that was lacking in Gary Ross’ first Hunger Games movie. The series’ new director Francis Lawrence has opened up the world of Panem, while serving the original source material from author Suzanne Collins. McWeeny writes:
With this second film, new director Francis Lawrence takes that solid ensemble, adds some important new pieces to that group, and then expands the world in a way that doesn’t throw out Ross’s film, but that uses it as a way to get to something even better.
Germain Lussier from /Film says that Catching Fire is weightier than the first film, but almost gets bogged down by its own sense of importance. While Lussier enjoyed the film’s entertainment value, he says that at times its pacing could be tighter as events start to become repetitive. Lussier writes:
We’ve already seen the training, we’ve already seen the parties, and while there are new wrinkles to each of these, they don’t do wonders for the film’s pacing. The Games especially have this problem as the tributes, which include amazing new additions played by Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer and especially Jena Malone, basically run from problem to problem to problem. There’s fun there, and lots of impressive effects, but it always feels secondary to the story outside the arena.
The consensus on Catching Fire seems to be that it’s a much better effort than the original film, and that Francis Lawrence adds a visual flare that was absent in Gary Ross’ effort in 2012. However, while the film is highly entertaining, it doesn’t sound like it balances the narrative’s political intrigue elements with its arena action as well. Catching Fire currently has a 92% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with only 12 reviews. I’m sure this number will go down once more critics watch the film, but for now, it appears that Catching Fire is a more-than-worthy sequel film.
Lionsgate also released four minutes of B-Roll footage from Catching Fire. The footage gives fans of the series a better look at the filmmaking process during the rushed production last year.
Catching Fire follows Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark as they return to District 12 after winning the 74th Hunger Games. As a new champion, Katniss quickly becomes the new face of hope for the people of Panem. Katniss and Peeta return to the Capitol for the annual Victory Tour and participate in the Third Quarter Quell, or 75th Hunger Games, which is comprised of the winning Tributes from the past 25 years. Meanwhile, President Snow tries to stamp out any signs of the rumored rebellion, starting by destroying Katniss’ new image as a symbol of hope for the populace.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will hit theaters on November 22, in IMAX.