Catching FireDid you see Hunger Games: Catching Fire yet? Did you did you did you? I managed to get to an early showing yesterday and even though the IMAX pricing was a whopping $14.50 (during matinee hours!) I really enjoyed it. Definitely worth the entire babysitter-plus-tickets-and-peanut-M&Ms cost, although I really need to remember to sneak in my own water because FIVE DOLLARS FOR A DASANI COME ON.

Anyway, if you've seen it and thus have no concerns about spoilers, let's talk about the many high points of Catching Fire … along with a few of the less-awesome aspects.

The Good:

Jennifer Lawrence. I can't stop raving about her lately, onscreen and off. She delivers another pitch-perfect Katniss performance, even when she's shellacked in enough eyeshadow to overload every YouTube makeup tutorial on the web. If her intensity and internal struggle is perhaps not the most subtle thing in the world (her dismayed expressions during the victory tour!), it's incredibly gratifying to watch. Her fierce-yet-vulnerable charisma makes me wonder how Twilight -- with all its bland lovelorn moping -- managed to earn a single box office dollar.

Philip Seymour Hoffman. In a movie sprinkled with flamboyantly over-the-top characters (Effie Trinket, Caesar Flickerman) and a few on-point but predictable ones (President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland's imperiously arched eyebrow), Hoffman was a wonderfully dialed-back element. Great casting.

The Arena dangers. The poisonous fog! The jabberjays! The nightmarish monkeys! I thought they did an amazing job with all of this. Particularly the monkeys. Gah, monkeys.

The costumes. All of the costuming was fantastic, but Katniss' wedding gown that morphs into a mockingbird? Damn. DAMN.


The Bad:

Okay, "bad" isn't really the right word here, but in keeping with my headline theme …

The pacing. It's a sequel and we didn't need a long intro or a tied-with-a-bow ending. Still, it sort of felt like it started and ended in the middle. Plus, when you know there's still an entire Games part of the movie to come, the hour-plus of tours, chariots, costumes, Snow-threatenings and Gale-smolderings does drag on a little bit.

Peeta. I'm sorry, I will never like Josh Hutcherson in this role. Every moment his doe-eyed face takes up the screen makes me want to swat him aside in favor of the more interesting characters.

The familiarity. Catching Fire sets things up nicely for Mockingjay, but really, it's essentially the same movie as the first, "with a twist," as Plutarch would say.


The Downright Ugly:

You REALLY need to go pee before you sit down in the theater. Seriously. Or maybe bring a Stadium Pal.

What did you think of Catching Fire?


Image via Lionsgate