The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ***

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I was pleasantly surprised by “The Hunger Games” last year. I was quick to assume that it would be a “Twilight” or “Harry Potter” clone but it was not. Director Gary Ross adapted the material in to a fairly raw and dramatic tale. Francis Lawrence is the director this time and takes it even further in to what is shaping up to be an entertaining franchise. Attempts are made to make the stakes even higher than they were in the original film and I fully appreciate that.

The story this time follows Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), the co-winners of the previous Hunger Games, as they make the rounds, pretending they are in love so that the government does not have to execute them. Apparently it is against the law to have two winners. In the background is the general population who are on the verge of rebellion. The government then wants Peeta and Katniss to get married so that the people think that her actions were out of love as opposed to defiance of the government. This results in a second Hunger Games where the contestants are all previous winners, including Peeta and Katniss. Sort of like an All Stars Hunger Games.

When we reach the games we realize almost immediately that it is worse then the Tributes initially thought. Not only are they all previous winners, but the arena is plagued with hidden dangers and booby traps.

I am surprised at how caught up in this series I have gotten. I actually care about the characters and whether or not they survive. That is a credit to the actors, writers and directors who have done a great job at adapting the material. I am looking forward to the next chapter.

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