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Hunger Games, The: Catching Fire


Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, Stanley Tucci

Director: Francis Lawrence

Very much a mid-story episode - watch out for a very abrupt ending - if still a notch up from the first film, this takes up the story of Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) and her friend Peeta (Hutcherson) as they are paraded around after their victory in the games, watched over by President Snow (Sutherland) in his palatial Oz-like city, while his 'districts' continue in ever-increasing poverty.

There's a lot of shilly-shallying around, some of it involving Katniss and her putative boyfriend Gale (Hemsworth) before we get down to the meat of the story, centring on the 75th 'quarter quell' Hunger Games, in which Snow, determined to get rid of people's princess Katniss, and with the connivance of his new gamesmaster (Hoffman), decrees that all surviving winners of previous games will be pitted against each other.

The plot, of course, makes little sense - if the film's denouement, for example, depends on Katniss staying alive, how can those on her side possibly ensure that she does so? - but that's hardly the point. The film keeps us watching for its on-off excitements - Katniss shooting arrows at the trial and a battle against giant killer baboons are the best moments - and the extravagant costumes and characters (Tucci again scores here as the grinning games MC), rather than the fates of the games' bad guys, all of whom seem rather easily - and, indeed, at times, almost invisibly - dispatched.

Stand by for more seat-numbing sagas from the final book, Mockingjay, which (for purely artistic reasons, of course) has been divided into two epic films.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Technicolor.
146 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 12 Nov 2013