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    December 26, 2013


    This sequel to last year's mega-hit The Hunger Games is no longer baiting the audiences for just another round of brutal tribute game. The first hour is as its best, showcasing a premonition of what’s to come and what’s to expect as the series progresses for another two installments. But the message is very clear nevertheless, that the second act with the usual annual game you will see is merely a ploy to something bigger and more ambitious in the future. By the time you settled for the final act, you may actually ends up craving for more.

    The sequel opens with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), touring the nation following their victory in the 74th edition of Hunger Games, showcasing their made-up romantic story to feed the people with tabloid headlines while at the same time, tries to distract them from the real problem. But their victory was seen as a symbol of rebellion by the Capitol, as people uprising seem to follow where ever they go.

    But the white-whisker-fascist President Snow (Donald Sutherland) hatched a plan to kill Katniss but does not want her to be seen a martyr. As a result, even as Katniss and Peeta were managed to escape the frying pan last time around, the political pressure at the Capitol forced the duo to re-compete in the special once-in-every-25-years edition Quarter Quell, a game filled with past champions.

    Catching Fire is directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine) whose solid composure makes this sequel truly stunning and enjoyable. No doubt, this is way better than the first movie and this well-directed sequel effectively more gives justice to the best-selling novel series it adapted from. The risk and stake may have raise been higher in Catching Fire, but what is more impressive is the fact that it managed to encompass and to metamorphose the story elements without even a slight hiccup.

    With the story now runs deeper by venturing into the more daring, darker and mature themes, the screenplay as provided by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and Michael deBruyn (Toy Story 3) is well-written. The movie never commits itself only to serve as a direct sequel or tricking audiences into another trip of Survivor-meet-Gladiator bloodshed, but is more consequential and inductive as compared to the first movie.

    This strong sequel also benefits from a wide range of amazing talents all over it, both on the returning casts as well as the newcomers. Jennifer Lawrence’s stupendous portrayal as Katniss Everdeen is the latest testament for all the good years she already has. Probably she deserved more recognition for her talent in many more years to come.

    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire marks a major improvement over the tepid predecessor as it continues venture deep into the franchise darker and more thought-provoking themes. The sequel is truly well-written, well-acted, well-directed and well-paced to offer a satisfying, irresistible and compelling installment.

    "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" stars Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook"), Josh Hutcherson ("The Kids Are All Right "), Liam Hemsworth ("The Expendables 2") and Woody Harrelson ("Zombieland"), presented by Lionsgate via Nusantara Edaran Filem, and directed by Francis Lawrence ("Constantine") from a screenplay by Simon Beaufroy ("Slumdog Millionaire") and Michael Arndt ("Little Miss Sunshine") which is based on Suzanne Collin's "The Hunger Games" series. The movie is rated P13 and is on release since November 21, 2013.

    Story: 4.5
    Casts: 4.5
    Cinematography: 5.0
    Effects: 4.5
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 18.1/20.0
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