The sequel to last year’s box-office sensation The Hunger Games impressively builds on solid foundations – without ever really catching fire itself.
With two more sequels to follow , Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence (The Silver Linings Playbook) grows even more impressively into the role of reluctant warrior Katniss Everdeen.
Alongside a strong supporting cast, which this time boasts the likes of Phillip Seymour-Hoffman (Oscar winner for Capote), Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale) and Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction), and a more polished production, Lawrence’s presence helps elevate this to the next level.
The first half of the film is more methodical than exhilarating, with Katniss and 74th co-winner Peeta Mallark (Josh Hutcherson) becoming targets of the Capitol – primarily President Snow (Donald Sutherland) – as their victor’s tour of the districts lights the embers of a rebellion.
But the curveball sees Katniss and Peeta literally thrown back into the viper’s nest when only past winners of the games can compete for a special 75-year celebration – including favourite Finnick (Brit actor Sam Claflin) and the sexy Johanna (Sucker Punch’s Jena Malone) – making this the deadliest Hunger Games yet.
Arguably the actual ‘games’ part of the movie isn’t as shockingly visceral as the first film, and the movie might not quite pan-out as some cinema-goers may expect – but again Lawrence, Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and co all play their part in what is building into an epic series. It is undoubtedly a classier product than the likes of the Twilight Saga – and deserves plaudits as this simmers nicely towards an exciting finale.