InThe Hunger Gamessequel,Catching Fire, we re-enter the post-apocalyptic world of Panem where we find Hunger Games winners Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) on an excruciating publicity tour to celebrate their success at the 74th Annual Hunger Games. But, what starts out as a fame-seeking mission, much to the dismay of the two humble teens, ends up being another battle for survival against the inexorable brutality that is the Hunger Games arena.

Based on the popular young adult trilogy by author Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire is thrilling and gratifying right to the very end. Director Francis Lawrence and screenwriters Michael Arndt and Simon Beaufoy use the majority of the first half of the film to depict the cruel connotations of being a celebrity, even in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s bad enough Katniss and Peeta have to smile pretty for the cameras in front of all the enslaved districts under Panem but to makes things worse, President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland) is forcing the pair to pretend they’re in love as punishment for defying the rules of the 74th Annual Hunger Games.

In collaboration with the Hunger Games master of ceremonies, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Snow tries to eliminate both Katniss and Peeta to put an end to the brewing rebellion by forcing them to compete in the 75th Annual Hunger Games, the Quarter Quell. Will Katniss and Peeta enjoy the sweet smell of success yet again, or will Snow be the victor this time ’round?

Even those who haven’t read any of the novels or seen the first movie will relish in the power and exhilaration that is at play throughout Catching Fire. While the plotline is tantalising to say the least, the strength of this film lies in the characters. Lawrence is striking as the stoic Katniss, as is Hutcherson in his portrayal of the strong yet unpretentious Peeta. Standout supporting roles include Hoffman as the eerie master of ceremonies, Elizabeth Banks as the bubbly tour chaperone Effie Trinket, and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy, a former Hunger Games victor.

3.5/5 stars


BY HAYLIE PRETORIUS

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is in cinemas now.

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