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REVIEW: ‘Catching Fire’: ‘The girl on fire’ does it again

Katniss may have survived the Hunger Games, but the real games have just begun.

“Catching Fire,” directed by Francis Lawrence, is the latest installment of the Hunger Games trilogy, and it starts right where “The Hunger Games” left off. Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, and Peeta, played by Josh Hutcherson, have returned home and are now living in victors’ housing, no longer having to worry about where they will find their next meal. But things aren’t quite as tranquil as they seem.

The rich, colorful hues of the luxurious Capitol contrast strikingly with the stark, barren grays of the less fortunate districts. The disparity between the two is palpably evident, adding further fuel to the unrest shown on the screen.

In the arena itself, the viewer expects to be met with a harsh landscape, but is instead struck by the calm beauty of a tropical forest and rippling waves on a beach. It’s eerie to imagine what dangers are hidden in this seemingly tranquil, beautiful locale.

Those with weaker stomachs will be glad to know “Catching Fire” is much less graphic in its violence than its predecessor. While there is still plenty of death, it’s not on quite the same scale as “The Hunger Games.” Instead, the second installment of the trilogy focuses more on building characters and setting the stage for the events of book three, “Mockingjay.”

Much of the film’s focus is placed on Katniss Everdeen’s attempt to determine the depth of her relationships with Gale and Peeta. Katniss struggles to move past the violence of her past and imagine a future with any sort of normalcy.

In addition, plenty of new characters are introduced and developed, from pretty-boy Finnick and brazen Johanna, played by Sam Claflin and Jena Malone, to oddballs Beetee and Wiress, played by Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer.

The relationship between Finnick and his mentor, Maggs, is particularly well-done. The way he selflessly cares for her is a sweet contrast to his usually arrogant, self-assured nature. The bond between the two transferred beautifully onscreen, creating an emotional connection between the characters and the audience.

Overall, the director did a great job of staying true to the book. The only thing that perhaps could have been given more screen time was the development of Finnick and Johanna’s characters in relation to their interactions with Katniss and Peeta. In the book, much more emphasis was placed on how dangerous and untrustworthy they first appeared, but the movie glossed over their unsettling qualities, making the audience question why Katniss and Peeta were so reluctant to become their allies.

Besides that, the movie was very accurate and perfectly adapted to the screen. “Catching Fire” is sure to please both the casual viewer and devoted book series fan alike.  With the fast-paced action and intense emotional content, it’s impossible to not be hanging on the edge of your seat.

If you’re looking for a movie to see this weekend, “Catching Fire” won’t disappoint.

-Alina Tichacek

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