AMID the many young adult fantasy franchises hoping to plug the gap left by Harry Potter and Twilight, The Hunger Games emerged triumphant last year, slaying all the competition with a worldwide box office gross of nearly $700m.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
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That’s the sort of success that can breed caution in sequels, but this adaptation of the second book in Suzanne Collins’ best-selling dystopian trilogy is a surprisingly edgy proposition.
Receiving its world premiere in London last night, Catching Fire darkens the already bleak scenario of the first film and gives recent Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, below, plenty to sink her teeth into as the saga’s self-possessed, bow-and-arrow-slinging heroine Katniss Everdeen.
Haunted by the blood she has on her hands as the victor of the titular televised teen death match, Katniss this time finds herself thrown into the arena to participate in a hastily arranged battle against past winners as part of a nefarious plan by the government to quell the rebellion her unexpected victory seems to have inspired.
It’s a meaty set-up, and while the film takes its time exploring the characters, 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.