Katniss' second serving is a scorcher

THIS GIRL IS ON FIRE: The heat is on for Hunger Games tribute Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), who is sent for another round of the deadly contest when her nation's leader fears her sparking a revolution.


    Nov 21, 2013

    Katniss' second serving is a scorcher


    Action/146 minutes

    Rating: 4/5

    BELLA who?

    Indeed, compared with the often one-dimensional leading lady in another popular teen-geared, book-based movie franchise, Twilight, The Hunger Games' Katniss Everdeen is a force of nature.

    Now, the spunky character that catapulted Hollywood It Girl Jennifer Lawrence, 23, to international superstardom last year is back in this sequel.

    But forget all the comparisons to the Kristen Stewart-starring vampire flicks - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is in a league of its own, showing a marked improvement from the first film.

    The Hunger Games is based on the best-selling book trilogy by American novelist Suzanne Collins.

    Thanks to its all-star cast, gripping story and well-executed effects, the movie is infinitely entertaining - whether one has read the books or not.

    In this instalment, heroine Katniss is still reeling from the death and destruction she both faced and inflicted in the Games, which pits youngsters, or tributes, against each other in a fight to the death.

    Still, she must fulfil her obligations, post-win. These include leaving behind best friend/love interest Gale (Liam Hemsworth) to go on a victory tour with fellow tribute Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), with whom she has curated a faux, albeit convincing, romantic relationship.

    But the dystopian city of Panem is on the cusp of a revolution, and Katniss is poised to be its leader. She lends hope to a nation without it, much to the chagrin of President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland).

    Thus, he and his cronies - including a new addition to the cast, Capote's Philip Seymour Hoffman as the wily Plutarch Heavensbee - cook up a plan to nip the problem in the bud (read: off Katniss).

    This entails sending former winners of the Games back for another round of the deadly competition.

    The action picks up late in the film but, trust us, there's enough of it to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

    With their allies in battle, including the brash Johanna (Jena Malone) and cocky Finnick (Sam Claflin), Katniss and Peeta face obstacles like a troop of rabid baboons and a rolling poisonous fog.

    All the actors serve up outstanding performances, but it is Lawrence who truly entrances.

    Her portrayal of the resilient and headstrong, yet vulnerable, Katniss feels enduringly organic.

    Take it from us: This is one leading lady who deserves all the hype.

    We're already hungry for the next instalment.