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Catching Fire is the second installment in the Hunger Games series, directed by Francis Lawrence, and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Donald Sutherland. It continues where the first Hunger Games film left off; in the aftermath of Katniss (Lawrence) and Peeta’s (Hutcherson) unprecedented dual victory in the 74th annual Hunger Games, and the effect of this on the 75th reaping of tributes.

Having not read the original Hunger Games books the films are adapted from, I can’t draw much of a comparison on that level. I can say however that Catching Fire is a more polished film than the first Hunger Games; showing a broader scope of action than just Katniss’ experience in the games themselves, and focusing more on the political consequences of her actions in the first film, as well as the consequences of how she chooses to progress from there – this is all done within a reasonable time frame (it’s two hours and twenty minutes, roughly – and I won’t say that it flies by, but it definitely doesn’t drag by any means). Jennifer Lawrence steals the show as Katniss Everdeen – shining as the protagonist who does what she has to survive the Hunger games, as well as navigating the political minefield she has created for herself in her actions in the first film – and the implications of this on her romantic life. Lawrence is supported by an amazing cast – Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark – Katniss’ co-victor in the 74th Hunger Games and supposed lover in the eyes of the rest of Panem. Donald Sutherland plays President Snow, Panem’s autocratic ruler who becomes a much more prominent antagonist in Catching Fire. Phillip Seymour Hoffman also plays the new head gamemaker in Panem’s Capitol – and like Snow manages to portray a polite, charming exterior to Katniss during their scenes in high society, which veils his antagonistic nature.

This film manages to outshine the first Hunger Games film, while also portraying a much larger picture of Panem’s political instability, and how this relates to Katniss’ life in both the public eye and in private. It manages to do all this while still not skimping on the action scenes, all with an amazing performance from its leading lady, and a fantastic cast to back it up. Go see it. You know you want to.

8/10