I have a feeling Lionsgate is pretty confident about The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, because even though the film doesn't hit theaters until November 22, there seem to be TONS of movie critics who got early access to a screening. I don't think studios typically do this when they're worried they have a giant flop on their hands, right?
At any rate, there are plenty of reviews trickling in for Catching Fire, and I couldn't help but take a look at them. Honestly, I sort of prefer to avoid reviews on movies I really want to see so I don't influence my viewing experience, but considering the months-long buzz for this sequel, my curiosity got the better of me.
So here's your chance to either back away and see the movie without knowing what the peanut gallery's saying ... or check out this critical reaction roundup.
This second installment of the film series based on the novels by Suzanne Collins hits all the bases for a genre movie — whether you’re there for thrills, romance or even sociopolitical commentary, you’ll come away satisfied. (...) Either Elizabeth Banks’ bizarrely overdressed flack and Stanley Tucci’s unctuous TV host are being played more subtly, or real life is catching up to the absurdity of their characters, but they’re much more interesting to watch this time around. Lawrence, of course, grounds the film with her intensity and her passion, and Hutcherson and Willow Shields (as Primrose) get to be more complex and multi-dimensional this time as well. Catching Fire serves up food for thought and jolts of adrenaline in equal doses, which is more than most YA adaptations have managed to deliver. -- TheWrap
The script by Simon Beaufoy and Michael deBruyn reflects the shape, emphasis, and incident of the book with almost scientific precision, and the desire to deliver the expected goods is keenly felt. Across the board, the new film boasts a noticeably spiffier, more confident feel than the first, even as the overriding impression is one of methodical responsibility to the source material. -- Hollywood Reporter
It’s a critic’s instinct to auto-praise any blockbuster that tries to do something different, but Catching Fire is so committed to carrying on the fine work started by its predecessor that the applause flows utterly naturally. Is it too soon to say I can’t wait for the next one? -- Telegraph
Catching Fire expands Suzanne Collins' novel beyond the confines of the arena to tackle some seriously brutal truths - plugging gaps and sowing seeds for a two-part finale that will have to work hard to match its grit. -- Total Film
Its themes and action sequences are more forcefully realised than they were first time round, suggesting that this series may soon be the one against which all other franchises will be judged. -- Scotsman
With its pseudo-war-photography shooting style, the first film played jittery tag-along witness to Katniss’ ordeal. By taming the camera and focusing on the emotional truth of each highly charged moment, Lawrence and d.p. Jo Willems “Limitless) invite us into Katniss’ head, which is where the first-person books unfolded. Through her eyes, Peeta’s sacrifices seem even more noble (crucial for Mockingjay's big twist to work), the threats that much more immediate. In IMAX, the widescreen aspect ratio expands to fill the entire screen during the Hunger Games portion of the film, though it’s an unnecessary boost, as Lawrence and his team have calibrated the entire experience for maximum engagement. -- Variety
Of course, there's no such thing as total agreement on any given movie. Here are a few less praiseworthy comments:
As an adaptation of Collins's Catching Fire, Lawrence's film is close to faultless. As cinema, it's solidly engaging but consistently underwhelming. -- Digital Spy
Catching Fire is not quite a full course, more of an amuse bouche, making its mammoth audience hungry for future, meatier installments. -- Guardian
A ho-hum sequel that mostly sets the stage for hopefully more scintillating future chapters. -- Screen International
I don't know about you, but despite the sole "ho-hum" description (ehhh, there's one in every crowd), I'm more excited than ever to see this next week. Time to book the babysitter, folks.
What do you think about the early reviews for Catching Fire? Are they confirming what you already suspected: that this movie's going to be AWESOME?
Image via Lionsgate