The release of The Hunger Games last year brought something new and exciting to the genre, something more gritty and serious. Over a year later the sequel Catching Fire has been released and is even bigger and better than the first instalment.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), the winner of the 74th Hunger Games returns to District 12 with her fellow victor Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), in order to prepare for the victory tour under the watchful eyes of President Snow (Donald Sutherland). The start of the film is quite reminiscent of the first, with scenes of the desolate and dreary District 12, alongside scenes of poverty and oppression, which is further amplified on the victors tour in which we see the 11 other districts in similar situations. The drama starts from the beginning, with scenes of rebellion, alongside those of violent control from President Snow and the Peacekeepers. Yet again the film provides an excellent portrayal of a repressed and controlled society, with a terrifying leader.

Uncertainty is one element that is strong throughout due to President Snow having a greater presence in the plot. Brilliantly played by Donald Sutherland, Snow is one of those characters that gives you chills and is simply a horrendous human being. For reasons that are explained in the film Katniss ends up back in the arena for the 75th Hunger Games, which brings a set of fantastic new faces including Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) and the new game maker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who is perhaps the most surprising character of the bunch.

Even though the overall arc of the film is that of violence, oppression and death, one thing that is constant, and rather refreshing throughout it the lighthearted humour that is emitted by most characters. As in the first film, the audience is drawn in to the spectacle of the Hunger Games aided by the great Caesar Flickerman, (fantastically portrayed by Stanley Tucci) and once again it is hard not to enjoy the bravado of it all. However, with the sparks of revolution that continually fly during the film, one is quickly drawn back into the darkness of it all.

Being perhaps the most accurate book to film adaptation I have ever seen, it was hard to find fault with it. However with it being so accurate to the book and including most of the key scenes within the book at times, some scenes did seem slightly rushed, as if the writers were attempting to squeeze everything possible into it. But this was a very minor detail which did not hinder the film too much.

Overall the film was absolutely spectacular, with fantastic performances from most of the cast and some spectacular nail biting scenes, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a must see for anyone, and those who have read the books will not be disappointed.

★★★★

To check out film times for the Merlin Cinema in Falmouth go to: www.merlincinemas.co.uk/cinema/1/falmouth-phoenix-cinema.html

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