Plot: Katniss has no special powers, hates being the centre of attention and wouldn’t know a wisecrack if it was written for her on a cue card.She’s far too troubled, conflicted and humble to be cracking gags and therein lies her enormous appeal as personified by a star, Jennifer Lawrence, who appears to embody all the down-to-earth, self-effacing qualities of Katniss herself.A winningly real, ordinary heroine (albeit with huge star quality) Katniss is a home girl who just wants to take care of her mother and sister. But, hell, she’s far too incendiary a character for that in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, a superior sequel that cements Katniss’ claim for movie immortality, as it does for star Lawrence.
Directed by I Am Legend’s Frances Lawrence (no relation) with a noticeably bigger budget, the picture is a grand, expertly made adventure with intriguing resonance for our times as Katniss is transformed into an accidental icon for the downtrodden masses in a divided world. Move over Iron Man. It’s time to get real.The first film saw Katniss thrust from obscurity to participate in the annual “hunger games” staged by the decadent elite of a totalitarian, post apocalyptic America (known as Panem): 24 forcibly selected teenagers are sent into the wilds to kill each other. Last one standing wins.
Review: The battle of wills and wiles between Katniss and Snow forms the story’s compelling backbone with several entertaining new characters lining up on either side, most notably Philip Seymour Hoffman Plutarch Heavensbee, newly appointed chief “gamemaker”.He’s a wily greasy-pole climber who conceives a new version of the “hunger games” in order to destroy Katniss: it will be played exclusively by former winners meaning that Katniss will either die at someone else’s hand or win and be forever associated with the regime.It’s ingenious. Both as a strategy and as means of giving us, the audience, what we want (more killing!) without a sense of repetition. Whereas the first hunger games were all about individual survival here it’s about teamwork (the participants form groups) and the fate of the nascent rebellion.In Katniss’s corner is cocky beefcake Finnick Odair played by rising British star Sam Claflin and Jena Malone’s butt-kicking Johanna Mason, lively additions who rather overshadow poor old Peeta who feels a bit like excess baggage.