The claw! Oooooooh!
Director Francis Lawrence makes this a more visually striking movie than the original, with the increased budget showing in the improved visual effects and costumes. All of the returning cast members once again prove they are perfect for their roles, with Jennifer Lawrence carrying the movie. From the scene where she pays tribute to Rue in District 11 right through to the ending she sells all the big emotional scenes (and there are a lot of them).
The new actors are equally good, with Philip Seymour Hoffman as new gamesmaker Plutarch Heavensbee, Jeffrey Wright as inventor Beetee, Sam Claflin as cocky tribute Finnick Odair and Jena Malone as the sarcastic and violent Johanna Mason being particular standouts. The varying age ranges of the tributes due to the Quarter Quell makes the alliances and interactions between the characters more interesting this time.
I’ve seen the movie compared to The Empire Strikes Back a lot, and it does raise the stakes and take the characters to a deeper, darker place like that movie. It also ends on a cliffhanger that will no doubt be very frustrating for those who haven’t read the books. Unless they mess up the third and fourth movies, this is almost guaranteed to be one of the great movie sagas.