'Hunger Games' Fans Will Enjoy Thrills In 'Catching Fire'

Second movies in a series can be such a comfort: we already know the key characters, we have a sense of where the plot is going — we just have to hang on and enjoy the thrills. Which is what happens with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

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"Catching Fire," the second "Hunger Games" film, is set to be the big new movie of the weekend. Kenneth Turan has our review.

KENNETH TURAN: Second movies in a series can be such a comfort. We already know the key characters, we have a sense of where the plot is going; we just have to hang on and enjoy the thrills. Which is what happens with "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."

The first film took Katniss Everdeen from being a small-town huntress to victory in the kill-or-be-killed national tournament called the Hunger Games. "Catching Fire" goes further. It gives her, much against her will, the possibility of a bigger role in the political landscape of the totalitarian future state known as Panem.

The country's president, played by Donald Sutherland, is not happy about that.


DONALD SUTHERLAND: (As President Snow) Ms. Everdeen, you fought very hard in the arena. But they were games. Would you like to be in a real war?

TURAN: Katniss may hope she's finished with the Hunger Games, but she's not. A devious new game-maker decrees that it's time for a Quarter Qwell, a special version of the games in which all former victors - very much including Katniss - will have to face off in another win-or-die competition.


TURAN: Jennifer Lawrence's intertwined strength and vulnerability as Katniss are as important in this film as they were in the first one. Lawrence has taken this role very much to heart, so much so that she creates genuine emotion from pulpy material. When her actions touch off a riot at a stop on her victory tour, she breaks down in front of her mentor, played by Woody Harrelson.


WOODY HARRELSON: (As Haymitch Abernathy) Katniss, what were you thinking?

JENNIFER LAWRENCE: (As Katniss Everdeen) Please. Please, just help me get through this trip. Please, just help us get through this.

HARRELSON: (As Haymitch Abernathy) This trip? Girl, wake up. This trip doesn't end when you get back home. You never get off this train.

TURAN: Katniss has other problems. She's torn between two very cute guys who are crazy about her. Her youthful idealism makes her burn with fury at the depredations of Panem's all-powerful ruling class. What's a girl to do? We'll have to wait for the next film to find out.


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