(out of 5)
The girl who survived the Shirley Jackson-meets-Mad Max spectacle of the first film is back in mundane rehash that barely passes for a sequel. Jennifer Lawrence‘s Katniss finds herself at the centre of constant media attention following her victory alongside Peta (Josh Hutcherson), the two of them encouraged to fake a romance by their nefarious president (Donald Sutherland) because he believes that it will help quell the stirrings of rebellion among the oppressed populations of the futuristic America they live in. The challenges only get greater when the powers that be decree that the next Hunger Games will be played by previous victors only, meaning that Katniss and Peta have to go back into the fray with even more elite players than they had before. It should be more of the same exciting stuff that happened the first time around, except that it really just treads the same ground and features very little conflict to speak of beyond the details of a giant board game. Katniss is surrounded by characters with whom she interacts but nothing ever develops, whether it’s the mentorship of Woody Harrelson, a possible villain in a sleepwalking Philip Seymour Hoffman, Liam Hemsworth as her love interest, Sam Claflin as another boy with whom there are no sparks, or Hutcherson’s boy next door with whom she has a muddled connection at best. It’s three hours of killing time with a frustrating ending that is merely a teaser for the third chapter; upside is that many of the actors are great, with Elizabeth Banks sinking so much deeper into her colourful eccentricity than she did the last time, and fun performances by Amanda Plummer and Jeffrey Wright in throwaway roles.
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Cinematography by Jo Willems
Music by James Newton Howard
Production Design by Philip Messina
Costume Design by Trish Summerville
Film Editing by Alan Edward Bell