“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” sets into a darker and more serious atmosphere that portrays freedom and defiance. The sequel ran up the box office to $161.1 million its opening weekend, beating the first movie “The Hunger Games.”

The second film follows Katniss Everdeen, heroine and tribute of District 12, as she becomes a symbol of revolution for the government and all the districts. Jennifer Lawrence holds a captivating performance that embodies the strong character of Katniss Everdeen very well.

Many new characters are introduced in the film when the tributes of all 74 years of the Hunger Games are once more forced back into the arena to fight for their lives. President Snow’s (Donald Sutherland) malevolent side becomes more prominent, especially after hearing the news of revolution among the districts.

He tells Katniss he is unconvinced of the romance she has in the games with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) which leads to decisions that will leave Katniss torn and indecisive. All of the districts tributes are exposed without warning to Snow’s new announcement of a 75th “Victor’s Tour” Hunger Games.

Once inside the arena, Katniss learns that the real enemy is one that cannot be put down by a bow and arrow. She and her allies are tested by forces in the game that result in courage and sacrifice. Woody Harrelson’s role as Katniss and Peeta’s mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, also becomes more significant in this film.

Catching Firehas a more grave and sullen setting which makes this film’s games feel like a truer fight for a survival. The innocent tributes are replaced by experienced fighters, the fog replaced by poison and rain pouring blood.

The film is filled with lots of special effects and action scenes. Lawrence catches fire on screen with her dazzling costumes and brilliant acting. There will be no surprise if the “Silver Linings Playbook” actress racks up another Oscar for her performance in the film.

The edge-of-seat storyline and climax are sure to be the reason why many fans say “Catching Fireis better than the first “Hunger Games” movie. Political and social context in the movie make the film gain a more mature aspect. For those who have not read the books, there is a surprising twist at the end which will surely leave viewers hungry for the next installment.

“The Hunger Games” films are based off the book series written by young adult author Suzanne Collins. The film’s last director, Gary Ross, was replaced by Francis Lawrence, who directedI Am Legend” and many music videos for popular artists.

The third book in the trilogy “Mockingjay” is scheduled for release in November 2014 and November 2015 in two movie installments.

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