One year after the dramatic events of the 74th Hunger Games, a severely traumatised Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is still trying to adapt to life as a “victor” in the squalid surrounds of District 12.
Haunted by the faces of the children killed in the games and struggling to reconcile her feelings for childhood friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and fellow tribute Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss has no idea that she has become the catalyst for a revolt that could threaten everyone she loves.
Inspired by her defiance, the once-demoralised citizens of Panem are rising up against the oppressive Capitol and the threat of rebellion hangs thick in the air. A desperate President Snow (ruthless leader of the Capitol) hatches a plan for the 75th anniversary of The Hunger Games, which will force Katniss to return to the arena for what could be her final fight.
Based on the book by Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire is the second movie in the Hunger Games trilogy and fans will not be disappointed by this surprisingly accurate adaptation.
Lawrence delivers a standout performance as the film’s heroine; she seems to lose herself in this emotionally complex role, convincingly conveying Katniss’s pain, anger and torment. Equally strong are Hutcherson and Hemsworth, who create the story’s love triangle.
Woody Harrelson makes a comedic return as Haymitch Abernathy, Katniss and Peeta’s drunken mentor, while acting veteran Donald Sutherland shines as the reprehensible President Snow. Phillip Seymour Hoffman delivers a rare display of villainy as game-maker Plutarch Heavensbee, and Elizabeth Banks and singer-turned-actor Lenny Kravitz reprise their roles as Effie Trinket and Cinna.
Stunning special effects bring to life the districts of Panem and the frightening Hunger Games arena, while the outrageous and colourful costumes highlight the differences between the privileged citizens of the Capitol and the starving, forgotten souls in the districts. While Katniss and Peeta sport torn, dirty garments in shades of grey and brown, Capitol residents such as Effie Trinket saunter about in excessive makeup and outfits that must be seen to be believed.
Director Francis Lawrence does a brilliant job of staying true to the book (a necessity for successful adaptations), while also putting his own creative stamp on the franchise.
The film’s one downfall, for me, was its closing sequence. That said, the action, intrigue and romance of Catching Fire is sure to delight fans; I only hope we don’t have to wait another two years for the final instalment.