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Jennifer Lawrence
Josh Hutcherson
Liam Hemsworth.
Francis Lawrence.
Simon Beaufoy
Michael Arndt.
Running Time
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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Bigger, better, hungrier

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Barely recovered from her first Hunger Games, Katniss (Lawrence) is devastated by the announcement of the 75th Anniversary Quarter Quell games in which only previous champions will compete and is likely rigged by the Capitol so that she will either betray the rebellion or die or, ideally, both.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
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 We’ll do this back to front, and get the downside out the way first, because, HG-convert or not, this much-hyped sequel does most of what you would ask of it, expanding the mythology, offering performances of greater nuance and feeling, and upping the volume of gladiatorial teen-sadism no end. You’ll come out drained in a way few blockbusters seem to care about anymore — sapped by the tension of convincing human peril. Like the movie in question, let’s build to the big finish.

So yes, it’s true, beat for beat, it is the same movie as the first.
We begin out amongst the mining-zone miseries of District 12 (fingers crossed they rope in a prawn from District 9 sometime soon) where Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) is endeavouring to cope with life, soon to be burdened as both figurehead for the quietly-mustering rebellion (under the alias “Mockingjay”) and pawn in the games of the totalitarian boot boys of the Capitol, a B-movie concentrate of Nazis, Romans, Stormtroopers, Republican Party and President Donald Sutherland, big on slithery commandments to snuff out insurgency. Generally taking a more muscular approach, newly incumbent director Francis Lawrence (taking over from Gary Ross), wraps these early scenes in dystopian grey, a colour-starved bleakness huddling beneath snow-clouds of oppression like a 12-rated version of The Road that never quite shakes its resemblance to the bit where Derek Zoolander visits his family.

From here, as various intrigues are set into motion, we take an super-train ride up the colour chart to the florid sci-fi garnish of The Capitol (The Capitol’s capital) where the cheesy pre-Games hoopla, as hosted by unctuous TV-peacock Stanley Tucci, oozes over the ‘faked’ romance between Katniss and Peeta (the increasingly square Josh Hutcherson). The love triangle is sensibly downplayed. Katniss thwacks kisses on both Peeta and homebound stiff Gale (Liam Hemsworth) — neither of whom, quite frankly, are fit to lay a pinky on her quiver — before concluding, reasonably, that she really hasn’t the time for romantic entanglements. Thankfully, everyone gets on with not dying.

Amid tasty training sequences to remind us how lethal Katniss is with bow and pout, Philip Seymour Hoffman strolls in apparently not bothering with a costume to give a surprisingly ineffective performance as Plutarch Heavensbee, most merciless of all Games makers. Did his miss the memo about The Capitol’s barking mad techno-satirical super-rich with Hogwarty names? A caste exemplified by Elizabeth Banks’ gilt-edged Aunt Sally Effie Trinket. And will everyone cheer come the Han Solo-in-Carbonite non-ending, satisfied that apocalyptic events have been set in motion in preparation for the final two parts of The Hunger Games fourfold trilogy?

If things are sounding overly negative, they really shouldn’t. Concentrating on Katniss’ immediate dilemmas and faltering resolve, the film moves gear by gear toward its masterstroke — the Hunger Games itself. And once thrust into the bedevilment of the newly pimped-up arena, you realise all this preamble has been finely measured. Like The Capitol’s twisted audience, we are raring to go. And the film delivers absolutely where it should — an exhilarating hothouse junglescape, Dagobah by way of Kurtz’s compound, delectably accessorised with prefab hostility. Between random forcefields, poisonous mists, and an army of psychopathic baboons, Katniss must contend with time-controlled floods, lightning bolts and a babbling Amanda Plummer. With his variety of Hawaiian location, tangible set, and seamless CG, director-Lawrence has gone as visceral as the rating will allow.

Rather than Darwinian fray, the players divide into frail factions, and those not au fait with the books are granted the frisson of not knowing where treachery might fall, and these fellow contestants are a much more untrustworthy and memorable bunch. Sam Claflin, pumped and cocky, has a ball as self-proclaimed big-shot Finnick Odair; Jena Malone adds a bit of XX-rivalry as the saucy Johanna Mason; and Jeffery Wright does fine kook as brainy ex-champ Beetee. Even then, this is truly a franchise thriving on a single performance. Defying rote heroics and sidestepping those solemn Frodoisms lurking in the role, Lawrence seeks out the complex, human and earthy in Katniss, still the beating heart and total triumph of these movies. Terrified and determined, gorgeous and real, we’re with this teen Spartacus to the bitter end now.

Whatever the flaws, many from the books, this second grittier, more confident round of Hunger Games thrills us into submission.

Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Average user rating for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Empire Star Rating

The Hunger Games Pt 2 Catching Fire

Loved the first movie...This instalment although enjoyable just didn't live up to my's worth watching...I just don't know if it's worth keeping in my collection for future viewing (no such problems for the first movie that was a 'hit', new entry straight in at No 1)...Catching Fire looks more likely to end up getting listed in the for sale category of my ebay listings...i'll finish off with the comment...'Must Do Better' ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alljohn at 14:08, 19 April 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Really liked it

It is heartening to find a teen-oriented movie franchise as gritty as The Hunger Games. Even so, Catching Fire remains contradictory, caught in some nether world between nightmarish political allegory and adolescent escapism. ... More

Posted by chang at 09:33, 31 December 2013 | Report This Post

Really liked it

THG:CF is a really great movie. THG is good too, very difficult to pull-off sci-fi and cinema but CF is an awesome sequel. The cast is very good. Everyone brought their A-game. The costumes and sets, CGI, the story. And the direction was understated which made it enjoyable. I liked the roles of the TV presenter Caesar and Johanna Mason who almost, almost stole the show from Katniss (Miley and Selina take note, Jena did it in Teen Fiction is that irony? Not too sure. I’m not the only one ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kanada83 at 09:50, 28 December 2013 | Report This Post

Solid film, well paced...but how about some love for the guys?

I really liked "The Hunger Games," but I like "Catching Fire" just a bit more. The politics of Panem become more in focus here, the spirit of rebellion more palpable, and the complexity of the characters much more multi-faceted. Katniss is an excellent heroine, though Peeta has clearly matured in terms of his offering within the game, and their allies play their part. I felt compelled to write a review here because of the words of Ian Nathan, who suggests that Katniss is... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by andell at 04:24, 28 December 2013 | Report This Post

Not as good as expected

I went to watch this not long ago in the cinema as I have read, and thoroughly enjoyed, the three hunger games books. However I must say that it did not live up to it's expectations, some good parts but mainly quite disappointing. President Snow was once again fantastic in this film, however I think that Gale's attitude in the film was far from the same in the book as he seemed more emotional in the film, a trait that I would not associate with Gale. Moreover, Katniss's crying scenes were cringe... More

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Posted by JonathanD01 at 15:58, 24 December 2013 | Report This Post

a very good movie

All round a very goods movie ... More

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Posted by soulfood at 19:15, 08 December 2013 | Report This Post

GRIPPING Stuff!!!!

A Gripping second instalment in the popular adapt ion of books by Suzanne Collins. We encounter our heroine Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, bitter and wounded but still ready to endure the Capitol and the ensuing Hunger Games Tournaments. This sequel builds on the original and expands the horizons, both visually and emotionally for our young heroes. After a stern warning from the President of the Capitol Snow (Donald Sutherlnd) Katiness must play the games their way or face the terr... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ramone87 at 14:02, 06 December 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Where's my favourite scene?

Really enjoyed this one. Jennifer Lawrence is great and even though the whole plot resembles the one of the first film a lot, somehow I didn't mind. It looks fantastic and I found it really gripping. Philip Seymour Hoffmann's character is almost boring (how could that happen??) but it seems he has a bigger part to play later (I didn't read the books...). ... More

Posted by Pandora at 09:13, 04 December 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Where's my favourite scene?

I really liked this. It sags a bit when they're in the jungle, but the more "civilised" dystopian scenes either side are horrifying. I only saw the first one the other day, but I'm really enjoying this saga so far ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 18:34, 03 December 2013 | Report This Post

Where's my favourite scene?

Would have been 5 stars had they put in Katniss and peeta viewing previous year winners' tapes...most importantly Haymitch's, would have loved to have seen that portrayed on film to show more meaning behind his drinking and bad life ... More

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Posted by Hector26 at 17:20, 30 November 2013 | Report This Post

Where's my favourite scene?

Would have been 5 stars had they put in Katniss and peeta viewing previous year winners' tapes...most importantly Haymitch's, would have loved to have seen that portrayed on film to show more meaning behind his drinking and bad life ... More

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Posted by Hector26 at 17:20, 30 November 2013 | Report This Post

Download Movie

Download The Hunger Games Catching Fire : Watch The Hobbit 2 : ... More

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Posted by movie4k at 09:07, 30 November 2013 | Report This Post


The whole thing just doesn't make any sense. I do not believe or buy in to the premise of this world. I spent the first 20 minutes trying to remember the first HG as everyone kept babbling on about things that I had evidently found far more boring that I'd realised as i'd clearly forgotten all about them. I found this film too long, too boring, too annoying (Why does everything have such a stupid name? Quell? quill? tributes, Katniss Everdeen!!?!? Urgh. What's next? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 00:19, 28 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Babbies first dystopia. Avoid unless you are a twelve year old school girl fan of the books. ... More

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Posted by spamandham at 22:28, 26 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

After winning the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark return home to District 12, but have to embark on a ‘Victor’s Tour’ of the districts. On the day they are due to begin their touring, Katniss is visited by President Snow, who explains that when she defied the Capitol by breaking the rules so that she and Peeta both survived the last Hunger Games, she inspired rebellions in districts and now must continue to pretend to be in love with Peeta or her family will be killed. ... More

Posted by Dr Lenera at 21:23, 25 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

With the success of the Twilight Saga at the back of the teen film craze, it’s no wonder that Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of young-adult dystopian sci-fi is currently making its way on screen with the first book simply titled The Hunger Games came out last year, the second book Catching Fire is finally released while the final book Mockingjay is being adapted into two films. But right now, let’s focus on number two. After winning the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and... More

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Posted by R W at 18:25, 23 November 2013 | Report This Post

Bye-bye, Miss Dystopian Pie...

If you enjoyed the first movie, you'll get a lot out of Catching Fire. It's a great expansion of the story, and earnestly told. It's just not for me; I didn't connect with any of the characters emotionally, so after that it's just a guessing game of who'll die next... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 17:52, 23 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Pt 1 overcomes poor source material

I think it's unfair to say that the source material is poor. The first two books are actually very well written, and hurtle along at a dizzying pace until it all gets a bit mired down in the third book. They're certainly better structured than the majority of YA fiction, and while there may be some clear similarities to other works, it has - I think - successfully become very much its own animal. To be honest I can't think of many truly original works released in recent times, can you? I'm... More

Posted by werepuppygrr at 10:00, 13 November 2013 | Report This Post

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