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Movie review: 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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Spoiler alert: In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, nobody actually...well, catches on fire. But the movie adaptation of the second novel in Suzanne Collins's bestselling YA trilogy has ignited quite the metaphorical flame amongst fans. Catching Fire isn't just a movie. It's an experience.

Catching Fire
Lionsgate

If you're not up to date, Catching Fire picks up six months after the events of The Hunger Games. Victors Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are preparing for the traditional victory tour, but it won't go entirely as planned. President snow (Donald Sutherland) is upset that Katniss and Peeta planned to commit suicide in the Games, an alleged act of defiance that unintentionally sparked the rebellion the Capitol has feared for years. Katniss must pretend to be in love with Peeta to avoid Snow's wrath, but her growing feelings for childhood friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) are getting in the way. Snow's threats come to a head when he announces that tributes for the upcoming Games will be previous victors. Now Katniss has to go back into the arena with even less chance of making it out alive this time.

If you're a fan of the books, you're in luck. This is one of the most faithful book-to-movie adaptations yours truly has seen. Plenty of lines are lifted straight from the text, and it's fun to find them-and watch your favorite scenes come to life.

But the movie isn't just a cut and paste from the book. It highlights some things the book didn't emphasize, like the importance of appearances in the Capitol-especially for victors. The characters really go overboard to bring the fake smiles and fancy words that manipulate Panem citizens into thinking the games are actually a good idea. Or at least to keep them from rebelling. Too bad that doesn't work....

The casting was perfect for the first movie, and didn't disappoint this time around either. Sam Claflin and Jena Malone are fantastic as previous victors Finnick and Johanna, as are Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer as Beetee and Wiress, respectively. And, of course, Philip Seymour Hoffman shines as head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee.

If you enjoyed The Hunger Games books, or even if you've never read them, everyone should see. Catching Fire. This is a movie to remember...even if nobody actually catches on fire.

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