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Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Phillip Seymour Hoffman

“Since the last games, something is different. I can see it.”
-“What can you see?”

So last year I got a lot of flak fired at me cause I personally thought the first Hunger Games film was really quite middling, or “meh” as we on the Internet would call it. I found it to have very poor direction and appallingly poor camera work. Some even still think I’m out of my mind when I try and explain why, but I guess the film itself didn’t quite work for me since id had a love for a similar film, Battle Royale. So when it came time for the sequel, I really didn’t have much enthusiasm for this franchise but I was hopeful that it could repair itself. To my surprise, it not only repaired itself, it improved upon itself.

Kattniss, now back in District 12, is still trying to get over the psychological trauma from the first games and adjusting back to her normal life, when she has a meeting with President Snow. He tells her that she must calm down the districts from rising up, which would cause thousands of people to die. She agrees to his request, but unfortunately, it doesn’t help when she visits some districts that are about to explode with anger. Upon returning from the tour, the president announces that the next hunger games will be comprised of previous victors, now forcing her back into the games with a villainous scheme to make sure she dies in the arena.

First off, all of the horrible shaky cam and “cut, cut, cut” style editing has been erased and replaced with more stable camera work and traditional style of editing that lets the action flow and sequences play out. On top of that, the stakes have been raised and the annoying, if not offensive, over censoring for the PG-13 rating have also been diminished. While I still think these type films would be better with a full on R rating, I understand the reasoning behind the rating. This time though, scenes feel more harsh and brutal, something that was definitely missing from the first film.

While the first film was definitely close to a rip off of Battle Royale, this one really separates itself from that material and raises the stakes. I found myself on the edge of my seat towards the end, truly not sure how it was all going to go down. I also found the ending to be incredibly bold and was impressed with how it sets up the next film, which I am very eager to see.

Another improvement that I noticed was that the CG has been upgraded and looks better, even on an Imax screen. While it still isn’t to the level of quality of say, Avatar or The Avengers, its leaps and bounds better than the first film where I was laughing at it. The humor in this film has also been improved with Effie (the weird looking annoying lady from the first one) is now hilarious and has much more character development making me very much look forward to seeing her again in the sequels.

I also had the pleasure of viewing this film in the IMAX, which was amazing. In some aspects I believe this to be superior to The Dark Knight Rises in its use of the large film format. What I mean by that is, in DKR, the IMAX scenes would come at random points throughout the film. It kept flip-flopping between full IMAX and 35mm. In this film, once the games start, its all IMAX, until the games are over. That’s about one third of the entire film; at least it feels like that much anyway. It also makes me kind of depressed that this technology isn’t going to be utilized on the sequels, but I’m just happy it’s not in 3D.

In short, THIS is what I wanted to see last year. The more I think about it, this might just go into my top 10 for the year. The only real things I didn’t like about the film was the very similar plot structure to the first film, and that Josh Hutcherson can’t really act, and he is distracting when everyone around him is a better actor/actress.

“Chins up, smiles on!”