The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Rating: Katniss Everdeen is a female Robin Hood, so get to the theater and watch the Sheriff of Nottingham’s knees start to buckle.

The Hunger Games Catching FireThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire combines the adventure, power and allure of such classics as Avatar (2009), The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the unforgettable Harry Potter films. However, there is one significant difference, as the central star of this superior film is not a hero, but a heroine, something not missed by young women of this country.

As the unforgettable Katniss Everdeen, Jennifer Lawrence dances in the same cinematic galaxy as Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz and Vivian Leigh in Gone With the Wind, both released in 1939. Trying to save her country and family, she repeatedly risks her own life while dancing on the edge of destruction.

Not to be overlooked is the simple fact that she is also wrestling with her own personal life. Emotionally drawn to two endearing young men, played by Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, she may be the first young actress in a great film to repeatedly kiss two men.

In summary, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire picks up following her and Hutcherson’s triumph in the original film. Becoming the symbol of a growing public dislike of the central government, she is involuntarily sucked back into another fight for her life.

Donald Sutherland is again magnificent as the malevolent President Snow, a man now dedicated to seeing that Katniss dies. The film is further helped by the appearance of the great  Philip Seymour Hoffman as the President’s right hand man, a guy who you sense from the beginning has questionable loyalties.

Despite the film’s multiple tragedies as you see protesters whipped at the stake and killed, several brilliant performances inject enjoyment and humor into this adventure from the very beginning. Woody Harrelson is perfect as Haymitch Abernathy, Katniss’ advisor, a guy who will drink anything just to keep his edge.

Stanley Tucci again appears as Caesar Flickerman, the patron saint of all game show hosts. He is a man with a great ponytail and a record number of gleaming white teeth.

Elizabeth Banks, playing the ostentatiously dressed Effie Trinket, is again Katniss’ guide, and she begins to show a bit of sympathy for the beleaguered young girl. And good grief, take a look at her eyelashes and clothes, as costume designer Trish Summerville is surely destined for Oscar recognition.

Finally, don’t overlook the performance of Jena Malone as Joanna, a Hunger Games contestant who teams up with Katniss and Hutcherson’s Peeta Mellark. She is both daring and attractive, and she has a sarcastic edge that makes her memorable.

Unlike the Twilight movies, there is nothing cheap or artificial about The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. A government is suppressing its people while trying to divert their attention with young people fighting to the death. A growing number of participants aren’t buying it for a second, and it is clear that a civil war is brewing.

There are two more films to be released in this saga so Katniss’ battle with President Snow continues. My money is on Jennifer Lawrence. Enjoy the ride!