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Movie Review: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Burns Brighter than the First

If for some reason you thought Jennifer Lawrence would get lazy or dial it back a bit after her Oscar win last year, you would be incredibly wrong.  If anything, she’s proving that she would be worthy of many more!

Now I loved the first Hunger Games, but Catching Fire is in every way better than the first.  The actors seem more mature and comfortable.  There is more character development and much more chemistry between Katniss and both of her love interests, Peeta and Gale.  And overall the directing was better.

In the second installment of the Hunger Games franchise, Katniss has returned home to District 12 after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta.  As Katniss and Peeta are about to start a victory tour around the country, President Snow pays her a visit.  He explains that when she defied the Capitol by breaking the rules so that she and Peeta could both survive the last Hunger Games, she inspired rebellions in the districts.  Now she must continue to pretend to be in love with Peeta, or her family will be killed.  The two play along well and keep up the charade to avoid any conflict with Snow.  However, after Peeta, Katniss and Haymitch save Gale during a dispute with the Commander, Snow becomes angry over a “once again” defiance.

Snow announces that the 75th Hunger Games will be the Quarter Quell, meaning a new rule will be added to the games.  In an attempt to show the Capitol is still powerful, the new rule states that existing victors from each district much compete again!

This film allows us to get to know all the characters a lot better.  It was nice to see Effie as part of the Katniss team along with Peeta and Haymich.    Stanley Tucci as Caasar still makes for some great comic relief.  And thank you Jena Malone, who plays the blunt Johanna Mason, for continuously saying what everyone in the theater was thinking.  The best thing about Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is how you could feel every emotion Katniss was feeling.  Whether it was the reminder of Rue’s death, or even the love she feels for Peeta and Gale.  Whatever the emotion, she nailed it and it will be the reason that you may tear up at multiple times through out the film.

Though the premise may sound like a repeat of the first film, it’s not.  They are heading in a completely different direction, and with a more central focus of “remembering who the real enemy is.”  With the films just picking up right where they left off, the build up has audiences anticipating something big.

It is an absolute must see for everyone, even if you haven’t read the books (like me).  I assure you it is a film that not only entertains visually and mentally, but it accomplishes one of the main reasons I love film; an escape from the stress of our lives.  Catching Fire might just be one of the best films of the year so far!

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is in theaters now!

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Official Theatrical Trailer HD

Movie Review: “The Starving Games” Is A Surprisingly Funny Spoof

I had given up on watching any more parody films after Meet the Spartans.  They were starting to become more about product placement and celebrity bashing instead of maintaining a story-line and making fun of the actual film.  The Starving Games made me remember why I enjoyed films like Scary Movie and Not Another Teen Movie.

In this Hunger Games parody, Kantmiss Evershot (Maiara Walsh) volunteers herself to save her sister, Petunia (Kennedy Hermansen), from fighting in the 75th annual Starving Games.  Kantmiss must fight for her life along with her secret admirer, Peter Malarky (Cody Christen) in order to win an old ham, a coupon for a Subway foot-long, and a partially eaten pickle.  All while a jealous Dale (Brant Daughtery) watches the action on the big screen.

There are a slew of other films that are poked at in this movie including, Harry Potter, OZ the Great and Powerful, and The Avengers.  Believe it or not, their appearances do not come off completely random.  Therefore, it is actually funny.

Pretty Little Liars’ fans will be happy to see the supporting actors of their teen drama, play leading men, as Dale and Peter.   Overall, this was a good comedic cast.  Especially, Maiara Walsh who bears a striking resemblance to Jennifer Lawrence.  I particularly loved the portrayal of Peter as an exaggerated coward.

The Starving Games is probably more satisfying as a rental.  But if you have seen The Hunger Games, the spoof is worth the laughs.

Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, comic violence, language and partial nudity.

The Starving Games hits theaters November 8th.

The Starving Games Trailer HD

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