Reviewed by Movie Moxie’s Alicia Glass

Studio: Lionsgate

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Francis Lawrence

Review Rating: 7.5

Accused of inciting rebellion in the Districts of Panem by the Capitol and President Snow, Katniss and Peeta are thrust into the 75th Hunger Games.

I didn’t care for the first movie, let’s just get that out of the way first. It told a compelling story, sure, but I was already a fan of Battle Royale. This second entry, though, is actually a lot better. There’s no intro, no flashes from the previous film at the beginning, the movie seems to say, we all know why we’re here, let’s get right to it. I appreciate that.

So Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are the duo and dubious Champions of District 12, despite many objections, including a scary warning from President Snow (Donald Sutherland) for Katniss personally. During the Victory Tour that Katniss and Peeta have to go on, much is made of the purported romance between them, but everyone close to them knows the downcast truth, that keeping public interest in their romantic affair will actually keep them alive. They try, they both try very hard to toe the line, but smidgens of rebellion keep cropping up in the Champions path, and whether they like it or not, Katniss and Peeta have become icons for a whispered rebellion of all the Districts. President Snow considers this far too dangerous and so, exercising his President powers and all that, he announces at the annual Quarter Quell the 75th Hunger Games will be of previous Champions from all the Districts. This effectively tosses Katniss and Peeta into the Games once again, and we enter the latter half of the movie, where all the action is.

Enter a man called Plutarch Levensbee (Phillip Seymor Hoffman), in league with President Snow, master craftsman of the gaming arena who is of course gunning for Katniss. Peeta and Katniss are maintaining the farce of their called-off wedding, boy does she make a stunning statement in the awesome dress Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) made for her. After announcing to the audience that President Snow insisted she wear the wedding dress she would’ve worn had the wedding taken place, Katniss does a simple turn and fire-morphs into a sexy, stunning mockingjay dress, complete with wings. Not long after this thumb-nose, Katniss finds herself in a transport tube headed for the game arena, after a healthy dose of inspiring bloodshed of course. Katniss and Peeta both have tried diligently to make alliances and learn as much as they can about the other Champions, and of course immediate mayhem ensues.

Everything is more polished this time around, the camera work and the characters, the sets and the background story gets a good going-over too. Katniss is still wooden and unresponsive, but hey, this time she has plenty reason to be. Her helpers and coordinators seem to understand this about Katniss, treating her gently and almost lovingly as they prepare her to die in the next Games. Katniss sports a lot more makeup this time around, and we see a lot more of Jennifer Lawrence’s boobs this time, in the sometimes slutty ensembles the Games has her running around in. Peeta has developed more as a character, which is good because he frankly needed it after the first film. (We know, these films are the Katniss show; still, supporting actors can get better roles given them.) I haven’t mentioned the love triangle between Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Katniss and Peeta as yet, mainly because well, it didn’t resonate with me a whole lot. I’m sure the book went into more depth (I sure hope so) and yes there are some tender and jealous moments in the film, but honestly the triangle pales in comparison to all the other epic stuff going on. The scene where Katniss demonstrates her badassedness with a bow in the Games pre-trials is awesome and epic to look at, but beyond that there isn’t a ton of bowplay, which was kind of sad. It was cool that everyone got their own symbol, considering who gave it, which I’m sure will be the hottest new thing for the legions of Hunger Games fans out there!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAzGXqJSDJ8]