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November 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Although the original Hunger Games received overwhelmingly positive reviews, they were tempered with plenty of reservations. For example, the late Roger Ebert wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times that while he regarded the movie as “effective entertainment,” he nevertheless express felt disappointed that it “avoids the opportunities sci-fi provides for social criticism.” Reviews of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire include few such caveats, and many remark that the sequel is superior to the original. “Bigger, better and broodier than the first film,” comments Steven Rea in the Philadelphia Inquirer. It “savvily builds on the foundation established by the first Hunger Games movie,” writes Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. “A superlative advancement of the franchise,” comments Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post. Many critics are crediting Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of heroine Katniss Everdeen for lifting the film above some shaky courses in the plot. Writes Claudia Puig in USA Today: “The Oscar-winning actress can nimbly pull off the dazzling fashion-show moments in this futuristic drama, as well as the considerable action exploits and emotional shadings required of her tortured character. Whether on the runway or shooting an arrow, Lawrence is powerfully convincing.” Adds Manohla Dargis in the New York Times: “The actress is more expressive here than she was in the first movie, where her lack of convincing affect, including clenching fear, was at odds with the violent stakes. There’s no indeterminacy here, either in her performance or the direction, which both go a long way to clarifying Katniss and turning a girl with a bow into the charismatic figure she was always meant to be.” And Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News comments that Lawrence “never lets us lose sight of Katniss’ fear, guilt, horror and conscience. Without sacrificing a steely backbone, Lawrence beautifully tags the tragedy.” To be sure, there remain a handful of naysayers. Rex Reed in the New York Observer damns it as “excessive, over-produced, obscenely over-budgeted and utterly pointless.” And Rafer Guzmán in Newsday observes, “Second-act problems plague The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but that’s what happens when the entire movie is a second act.”