Hunger Games: Catching Fire
PG-13
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: +2

Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy), Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket), Lenny Kravitz (Cinna), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee), Jeffrey Wright (Beetee), Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair), Jena Malone (Johanna Mason) with Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman), and Donald Sutherland (President Snow). Written by Simon Beaufoy and Michael deBruyn and Scott Frank. Directed By Francis Lawrence.

FILM SYNOPSIS: The sequel begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. †Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a "Victor's Tour" of the districts.† Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.

PREVIEW REVIEW: THG:CF suffers the same ailment as most movie trilogies; itís lethargic, itís laden with exposition, and, despite the wacky costumes and jolting attacks, itís boring. It takes a good hour and a half before they get to the games, the first and second acts consumed by exposition, a tyranny of visual glut, and depressed leads whose lives are controlled by the government Ė and not in a good way, like when our leaders give us everything from cradle to grave. Here, the Capitol demands people become achievers. Then all is taken from them, anyway. Hmmm.

Iím pleased that the good-guy tributes show mercy and compassion, but the film is so cold and dispassionate, itís difficult to become as involved as we were in the first installment.

I was reminded of Terry Gilliamís Adventures of Baron Munchausen, with its outlandish outfits, George Lucusí Saturday morning matinee Star Wars with the darkened visor helmeted robotic soldiers, and several episodes of Survivor, where people unite on teams only to betray members scenes later. And all this is filmed with that spastic camera this generationís filmmakers have come to accept as creative cinematography. That jittery, dizzying effect is perhaps used less often than in the first film, but nonetheless the operatorís shaky hand still makes its presence felt throughout.

Donald Sutherland once again plays the icy President Snow. Man, that guy is creepy. Mr. Sutherland always plays creepy. Is he that creepy off the set? I can picture him eating fava beans with Hannibal Lecter. Iím talking creepy! Peeta, played by the always dimension-less Josh Hutcherson, does little to enliven a scene. And poor Jennifer Lawrence, actually one of my favorite actresses from this generation, comes across here like a conflicted Kristen Stewart. By the way, how come Katniss never runs out of arrows? Just asking.

The film may be embraced by the booksí legions of followers, but it will no doubt be considered the weakest installment once the series is completed. I could be wrong, but once you see it, youíll know Iím not.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Lionsgate

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: I caught three obscenities, one use of the s-word and two of SOB.
Profanity: None
Violence: We see a young man whipped, the wounds visible; a young woman is punched in the face; there are several jolting acts with the tribunes fighting for their lives against one another and sudden attacks set in motion by those in charge, including a barrage of fierce baboons with long teeth attempting to kill our heroes.
Sexual Intercourse: A few kisses by a couple in love; it is a very chaste film.
Nudity: None, though we see a young woman from the back, taking off her clothes in an elevator, in front of a startled trio.
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Some drinking.
Other: It is a brutal Orwellian future world
Running Time: 146 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Up

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