‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Review Roundup: Jennifer Lawrence is Powerfully Convincing

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Jennifer Lawrence on fire in New Hunger Games Catching Fire Trailer

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” opens in theaters today to very positive reviews from critics.

The sequel continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, the winner of the Hunger Games, after she returns home to District 12. Katniss and her fellow competitor Peeta Mellark  become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games, which sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Everdeen, while Josh Hutcherson plays Peeta and Liam Hemsworth returns as Gale.

The movie is expected to break box office records with  $175 million in the opening weekend.

Here is what the critics are saying about the film:

Joe Morgenstern from the Wall Street Journal wrote, “None of it would work — not the action, the adventure, the political subtext or the humor — without the strength and beauty that Ms. Lawrence brings to the central role.”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is crowd-pleasing and compelling, most of all because of its fiery, charismatic heroine,” writes Claudia Puig of USA Today. “It’s almost as if the role of Katniss Everdeen…was written expressly for Jennifer Lawrence. The Oscar-winning actress can nimbly pull off the dazzling fashion-show moments in this futuristic drama, as well as the considerable action exploits and emotional shadings required of her tortured character. Whether on the runway or shooting an arrow, Lawrence is powerfully convincing.”

David Edelstein from New York Magazine wrote, “Relatively speaking, ‘Catching Fire’ is terrific. Even non-relatively, it’s pretty damn good.”

Ben Sachs of the Chicago Reader highly praised the design teams, writing: “This sequel is a triumph of production design: Philip Messina’s settings are so detailed that they convey how the movie’s dystopic U.S. functions beyond the story at hand, and Trish Summerville’s costume design shows a similar degree of invention.”

“Perhaps the most useful thing I can tell you about Catching Fire is that 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,” writes Andrew O’Hehir of Salon.com. “It’s a middle chapter, for sure, but a vigorous and fast-paced one that leaves you hungry for more.”

There were some detractors who had some soft criticisms of the film.

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle  wrote “Catching Fire is best in its first hour, when it concentrates on the politics and the specific horrors of Panem. It becomes more conventional in the second half and loses steam, but it’s always heading somewhere.”

Meanwhile, the New Yorker‘s David Denby, felt the climatic action was “an incoherent, rapid blur that will send the audience scurrying back to the book to find out what’s supposed to be going on.”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” also stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitiz and Elizabth Banks.

Lionsgate  released the film  in U.S. theaters today  Friday Nov. 22.

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