November 21st, 2013
05:52 PM ET
"Hunger Games: Catching Fire" had every reason to be awful: there's been a change in directors, it could fall victim to the sophomore slump, its class of new actors could have totally phoned in their performances.
But - thankfully for dutiful fans who are planning to see "Catching Fire" whether it's horrible or not - this movie brings the heat.
Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, with "Catching Fire" currently rating a fresh 92 percent on RottenTomatoes.com. It's not that critics haven't found some glitches - it runs needlessly long, was an overarching complaint, and the screenplay and direction do occasionally fall short - but taken as a whole, and especially when compared to the first installment, this Francis Lawrence-helmed production is a winning pick for fans and non-fans alike.
Check out what these top critics had to say:
Salon: "I went in dreading its 146-minute running time, especially after the messy and often undercooked first film, and was so captivated by the vibrant spectacle — seeing the movie in IMAX is actually worth it, this time around — that I was startled when the closing credits began to roll. It’s a middle chapter, for sure, but a vigorous and fast-paced one that leaves you hungry for more."
Variety: "The far superior 'Catching Fire' rewrites the rules, which not only makes for a more exciting death match, but also yields a rich sociopolitical critique in the process ... In director Francis Lawrence’s steady hands ... 'Catching Fire' makes for rousing entertainment in its own right, leaving fans riled and ready to storm the castle."
USA Today: The sequel to last year's Hunger Games is grittier and the atmosphere more brooding, which suits the increasingly dystopian theme of the stories. But it also feels like a re-tread. ... Sill, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is crowd-pleasing and compelling, most of all because of its fiery, charismatic heroine.
Village Voice: "'Catching Fire suffers from the movie equivalent of middle-book syndrome: The story is wayward and rangy, on its way to being something, maybe, but not adding up to much by itself. Still, it’s entertaining as civics lessons go, and it’s a more polished, assured picture than its predecessor. ... Lawrence is a movie star who’s still believable as a girl. She’s both on fire and in the process of becoming, and it’s magnificent to watch."
New York Magazine: "Relatively speaking (to 'The Hunger Games'), 'Catching Fire' is terrific. Even nonrelatively, it’s pretty damn good. As ever, (Jennifer) Lawrence is a treat, her face is that of a warrior who kills in sorrow rather than anger."
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