The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Admit it. Some of you have been waiting for this one. I know I have. If you saw "The Hunger Games," you will remember that in this battle to the death, our two representatives from District 12 had to pretend to be in love in order to get sponsors to provide some much-needed supplies necessary for their survival (and victory). Now the Panem government wants to see them marry to prove that it wasn't a hoax.

The problem is, The Capitol senses a rebellion brewing and thinks our heroine may be the inspiration, so they announce The Quarter Quell which will pit contestants drawn from previous winners. She is certain to have her name drawn as she is the only female winner from District 12 in the past quarter century. So much for that "lifetime of plenty" she was promised.

Some of these are returnees from the first episode:
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Oscar for "Silver Linings Playbook") is back as Katniss, the role model I wish tweens would emulate: Her first instinct always is to help; she is genuine; she's smart; she's resourceful; AND she has become the unwitting symbol of rebellion in Panem.
  • Josh Hutcherson ("Red Dawn") is Peeta, her partner, and, to make their story look real, her fiance. This guy is steadfast, strong and soooo much in love with her....
  • Liam Hemsworth ("The Last Song")  is Gale, her hunting buddy, still working in the mine back in District 12, taking care of her mother and sister and trying to ignore the publicity about Katniss and Peeta's pending nuptials.
  • Sam Claflin ("Snow White and the Huntsman") is Finnick, one of the other contestants. Is he an ally they can trust or is he an enemy who will stab them in the back?
  • Lenny Kravitz ("Precious") is the wonderful Cinna, the designer who created the marvelous dress that launched Katniss as the Girl on Fire. This year's design is even more provocative. Wait until you see it!
  • Donald Sutherland ("The Hunger Games") returns as President Snow, walking a fine line between assassinating Katniss outright (which might inflame the rebels) and trying to outwit her (which he's fairly confident he can do).
  • Stanley Tucci ("Jack the Giant Slayer") once again is the perfect television host: smarmy, overly enthusiastic and completely despicable.
  • Elizabeth Banks ("Pitch Perfect") This time her Effie Trinket seems to have grown a heart. Whew!
  • Woody Harrelson ("Seven Psychopaths") still is Haymitch (and he still drinks too much). He's the only former winner of the Hunger Games from District 12 still alive, so he serves as mentor to our two contestants.
This is a battle of wits, guts and gumption. It is PG-13 because of the grisly idea behind the games, although we rarely see blood. There is a sprinkle of profanity but it is warranted when used. We mostly see resourceful (and loyal) young adults in a battle for their lives. They remind each other, "Remember who the enemy is."

This is exciting, involving and we have a LOT of people to root for. I haven't named all the principal characters in this 146-minute epic, but I must warn you, there are no dull spots when you can take a quick break, so do NOT drink too many liquids!

I'm looking forward to the third (and fourth) episodes. "Mockingjay," Suzanne Collins' final book in this trilogy has been split into two $creenplay$.

SIDE NOTE: I got a kick out of keeping track of the number of arrows in Katniss's quiver. Sometimes it would be down to three, then, amazingly, a dozen or so...
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Here is the preview:
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