After a sloppy start, The Hunger Games franchise kicks into high gear with this solid, darker chapter that truly entertains. Jennifer Lawrence, looking a little more haggard and embittered, makes for a far more convincing war-torn survivor this time out. Her performance is great, as are the contributions of a bunch of new cast members including Jena Malone, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sam Claflin. The new look and feel of the series can mostly be attributed to new director Francis Lawrence and his cinematographer, Jo Willems, who got rid of that dopey, baroque look of the first movie in favor of something darker. The plot involves Katniss and fellow survivor Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) being forced into another Hunger Games where former victors must compete against each other. This installment has a lot more meat on the bone, and the action is easier to follow thanks to a much less frantic editing style. Francis Lawrence will direct the final two Hunger Games movies, and that’s good news for fans.
Director: Francis Lawrence
Producer: Nina Jacobson, Jon Kilik, Suzanne Collins, Louise Rosner-Meyer, Joe Drake and Allison Shearmur
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Philip Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin, Amanda Plummer, Jena Malone, Lynn Cohen, Meta Golding and Bruno Gunn