Hunger Games is the franchise on fire

Graphic by: Alexandra Tobia

Peyton Callanan

Every now and then a movie actually lives up to the hype surrounding it. Though many franchise sequels fall prey to bloated casts and uninspired scripts that have been pushed by money hungry movie studios, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” managed to be incredibly thrilling despite the dollar signs in Lions Gate’s eyes.

It would be understandable if some moviegoers couldn’t resist the urge to roll their eyes at another big movie franchise based around star-crossed teenaged lovers or the fact that Lions Gate’s rushed production of the sequel after the original surprised at the box office last year and it’s star, Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”), added “Academy Award winner” to her resume.

But “Catching Fire” is as good as the crazed fans on the Internet are promising it is. Even though there may be a few minor details that will be debated to death on message boards for weeks, “Catching Fire” is sure to be entertaining all kinds of audience members for quite a while, whether they are die-hard fans of the original book series or just casual moviegoers looking to enjoy a holiday blockbuster.

While the first film seemed to be geared more towards a younger female audience, “Catching Fire” has a much more broad appeal. Don’t let the teen heroine fool you. “Catching Fire” is an exhilarating action movie, with just the right amount of humor, romance and drama to make it bigger and better than the original.

Lions Gate was able to take the great foundation they had with the first film and add some subtle improvements that added extra punch to the sequel. They nearly doubled the budget of the first film for the sequel and swapped out director Gary Ross (“Seabiscuit”) and his shaky-cam for the more action-friendly Francis Lawrence (“I am Legend”). They pumped up the already impressive cast list with the addition of indie darling Jena Malone (“Donnie Darko”) and Academy Award-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Capote”) among others.

Director Francis Lawrence also did a much better job of showcasing the chemistry between Jennifer Lawrence as the main character Katniss and Josh Hutcherson (“The Kids Are All Right”) as her fellow tribute and on-screen boyfriend Peeta. Even though it is without a doubt Jennifer Lawrence’s movie, Hutcherson finally gets the amount of screen time a well developed love interest should have.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” may not be Oscar caliber, but it is a fantastically fun holiday blockbuster that improves upon the original. Expect to see it continue to light up the box office because this is the “Franchise on Fire.”