THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (12A)

WHO’S IN IT?

Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Josh Hutcherson (Bridge to Terabithia), Liam Hemsworth (The Expendables 2), Woody Harrelson (Zombieland), Elizabeth Banks (Role Models), Lenny Kravitz (Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Donald Sutherland (Don’t Look Now), Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman), Jena Malone (Donnie Darko), Lynn Cohen (Sex and the City), Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction)

WHO’S BEHIND THE CAMERA?

Francis Lawrence (Water For Elephants), director; Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine), writers; Nina Jacobson (One Day) and Jon Kilik (Babel), producers; James Newton Howard (The Sixth Sense), composer; Jo Willems (Limitless), cinematographer; Alan Edward Bell (The Amazing Spider-Man), editor

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Set immediately after their joint victory in the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Hutcherson) embark across the districts of Panem on a Victory Tour, where they soon discover their defying of the rules has made them a symbol of rebellion within the oppressed districts. Attempts by the totalitarian government, led by President Snow (Sutherland), to smear them reaches a critical level as Snow begins plans for the 75th Hunger Games – also known as the Quarter Quell – which could change Panem forever…

WHY SHOULD YOU BE EXCITED?

Coming off the wild success of the first film in the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ book trilogy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has quite a bit of weight on its shoulders. Least of all because it’s the continuation of a story that readers and moviegoers have taken into heart and made phenomenally popular as a result, and adds new elements to this established world and its characters without necessarily rehashing what make the first film so memorable.

That’s down to Lawrence #1, new director Francis Lawrence (replacing Gary Ross) who takes these smart and thought-provoking ideas originally created by Collins and adapts them in a way that’s identifiable in the film medium. He seems to understand that a sequel such as this needs to have a much bigger stance and sense of credibility than its predecessor, and unleashes a new vision – anchored by a script worked on by Oscar-winners Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt – while keeping things exactly as we left them, right down to the world of Panem and its cast of colourful characters.

That leads us into talking about Lawrence #2. That’d be lead actress Jennifer Lawrence, who needless to say has had an incredible couple of years. Featuring in blockbusters The Hunger Games and X-Men: First Class (which she will also return to in next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past), winning an Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook as well as an additional nomination for Winter’s Bone, and gaining a huge fan base based around her gawky and adorable real-life personality have certainly helped her to become one of the most popular young actresses in the industry, and returning to her star-making role as Katniss Everdeen with all this in her hand has given The Hunger Games: Catching Fire even more anticipation than before.

Not to exclude the other actors who feature in this film; Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth are back as Peeta and Gale to introduce that good ol’ love triangle drama used so often in young adult fiction, as are bigger actors like Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland. Joining are a whole new bunch of fresh faces, ranging from respected thespians – Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Jeffrey Wright – to slightly younger talent – Sam Claflin and Jena Malone.

All of them are bringing their A-game to a movie franchise that was shockingly once viewed as a mere successor to Twilight and a knock-off of Battle Royale. As The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will prove, only one of those brandings will be dispelled (and we all know which one that’ll be).

WHEN’S IT OUT?

THURSDAY 21ST NOVEMBER 2013

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