The Hunger Games : Catching Fire  (2013)    71/100

Rating :   71/100                                                                     146 Min        12A

The sequel to last year’s first instalment in The Hunger Games trilogy (well, they are stretching the original three novels by Suzanne Collins into four films) sees the return of new best actress Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson as Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark respectively, ready to face the repercussions and responsibilities expected of them by the domineering force of The Capitol after successfully surviving the annual Hunger Games in the last film – a brutal last man standing, kill or be killed contest designed to both entertain and control the partially enslaved populace in this dystopian vision of the world’s future.

Those consequences are predictable enough – indeed the very names of the novels and films are kind of spoilers in their own right. Not that there is much in the way of originality in this teen fantasy series – the Japanese film ‘Battle Royale’ (2000) which predates all of the novels is one of many examples telling essentially the same story. However, the production value here is enormous, with a great spectrum of committed creative talent behind it. All of which ensures that the films are visually engrossing and perfect just to escape from reality for a few hours with.

Aside from an underwhelmingly abrupt ending, this is just as fun as the first one, compellingly acted and with a number of nice flourishes – like Cinna’s (Lenny Kravitz) indulgence with Katniss’s dresses …

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