I was a bit worried that this second instalment of the Hunger Games might struggle to hit the heights the first one reached.
Last year’s initial movie set the scene well, had plenty of good performances, was well paced and certainly made me excited for the next slice.
Thankfully, although the direction moved from Gary Ross (who also helped with the screenplay) to Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Constantine).the enjoyable elements are still there.
And because we’ve had all the introductions, the action really moves to the crux of the novels - the abuse of power and how an individual can make a difference in a totalitarian state.
For those who haven’t a clue what this phenomenon is about, it’s based on the Suzanne Collins books where, following an uprising many years before, control is enforced by President Snow and his army.
Part of that control is to hold regular Hunger Games where champions battle to the death and a final sole survivor.
The story follows Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) following their dramatic action at the end of the previous Hunger Game.
As a result of their action, people are starting to oppose the authority and cause unrest.
In an attempt to discredit Katniss and Peeta, another special Games is held overseen by a new Games Master (Philip Seymour Hoffman) .
Add to the mix a rather complicated emotional time for Katniss with Peeta and the young man she has considered her main interest, fellow villager Gale (Liam Hensworth).
Lawrence shone in the first film and does so again here. Donald Sutherland as President Snow is back to his malevolent best and with a ‘supporting’ cast of Woody Harrelson, Seymour Hoffman and Stanley Tucci this really is a classy sequel.
The actual Hunger Game is exciting and tense enough but all the politics and machinations behind the scenes leading up to it are just as fascinating.
Another strength of the film is that we are made very aware of just how oppressive the ruling regime is and how corrupt the rulers are.
I for one can’t wait for the final part.
Film details: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (12A) 146mins
Director: Francis Lawrence.
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson
Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley