The sequel to last year’s box-office sensation The Hunger Games impressively builds on solid foundations – without ever really catching fire itself.
With two more sequels to follow – the split-in-half final book Mockingjay – as part of a franchise quadrilogy, Oscar Winner Jennifer Lawrence (The Silver Linings Playbook) grows even more impressively into the role of reluctant warrior Katniss Everdeen.
Alongside a strong supporting cast – which this time boasts the likes of Phillip Seymour-Hoffman (Oscar winner for Capote), Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale) and Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction) – and a more polished production (helmed by the director of I Am Legend), Lawrence’s presence helps elevate this to the next level.
It does take a while to actually reach ‘the games’ part of the film, with the first half of the film being more methodical than exhilarating, with Katniss and 74th Hunger Games co-winner Peeta Mallark (Josh Hutcherson) becoming targets of the Capitol – primarily President Snow (Donald Sutherland) – as their victor’s tour of the districts lights the embers of a rebellion.
But the curveball (minor spoilers ahead) sees Katniss and Peeta literally thrown back into the viper’s nest when only past winners of the games can compete for a special seventy-five-year celebration – including favourite Finnick (Suffolk-born Brit actor Sam Claflin) and the sexy Johanna (Sucker Punch’s Jena Malone) – making this the deadliest Hunger Games yet.
Arguably the actual ‘games’ part of the movie isn’t as shockingly visceral as the first film, and the movie might not quite pan-out as some cinema-goers may expect – but again Lawrence, Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and co all play their part in what is building into an epic series.
It is undoubtedly a classier product than the likes of the Twilight Saga – and deserves plaudits as this simmers nicely towards an exciting finale.
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Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, Willow Shields, Lynn Cohen, Patrick St Esprit, Paula Malcomson,
Running Time: 2hrs 25mins
Director: Francis Lawrence [youtube id=”biwOYEfzWDc” width=”600″ height=”350″]