The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 2013

Critics score:
89 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Christy Lemire, Director Francis Lawrence's film runs nearly two-and-a-half hours but it concludes so abruptly and tantalizingly, it leaves you wanting more. Read more

Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine: Spinning in that wedding dress, or glaring in wary repose, Lawrence catches fire on screen. She'll make a superb La Pasionaria when Panem has a real war in the Mockingjay films. Read more

Sara Stewart, New York Post: Yes, it's the middle chapter and feels like it, but it's never dull. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: The jungle scenes were shot in Hawaii, so at least they all got a paid vacation. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: None of it would work -- not the action, the adventure, the political subtext or the humor -- without the strength and beauty that Ms. Lawrence brings to the central role. Read more

Soren Anderson, Seattle Times: This second installment of the "Hunger Games" trilogy is a significant improvement on the movie that launched the franchise last year. Read more

Peter Debruge, Variety: "Catching Fire" makes for rousing entertainment in its own right, leaving fans riled and ready to storm the castle. Read more

A.A. Dowd, AV Club: Like too many franchise installments, Catching Fire builds to more of an ellipsis than a period, teasing the next chapter instead of providing closure. But isn't that true of The Empire Strikes Back as well? Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: "Catching Fire" is a great leap forward for the franchise. Seeing as it's all about hope and what it represents, here's hoping the next two are just as good, if not better. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: Book's good. Movie's better. Wait, what? Read more

Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader: This sequel is a triumph of production design: Philip Messina's settings are so detailed that they convey how the movie's dystopic U.S. functions beyond the story at hand, and Trish Summerville's costume design shows a similar degree of invention. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: Consider Catching Fire an example of successful franchise installment delivery, on time and in sturdy condition. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: This second in the Hunger Games trilogy, directed by Francis Lawrence, has many of the virtues and somewhat fewer defects as its predecessor. Read more

Nancy Churnin, Dallas Morning News: Those who understand the outrage that powers the books should ... appreciate the blunt way it embraces Collins' cautionary vision of how a ruthless, privileged few can keep the masses down by dividing them and entertaining them ... Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: Catching Fire delivers on the grim, roiling promises of the original. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: An improvement in almost every way from its pretty decent predecessor. Read more

Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/ Though the romantic triangle provides the story's heart, it's the film's take on media as social control (Stanley Tucci returns as the unctuous TV host), sharp sense of action, and smart peformances that give Catching Fire its soul. Read more

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: Catching Fire is more energized than the first Hunger Games movie; it's been directed, by Francis Lawrence, with a darkly sustained verve. Read more

William Goss, The steady action footage alone is enough to make this an improvement over the first installment. Read more

Wesley Morris, Grantland: This is Empire Strikes Back stuff. It has that second Star Wars movie's kick of confidence. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter: A safe, serviceable, carefully crafted action drama in which the subversive seeds planted in the first story take welcome root. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: An effective piece of melodramatic popular entertainment that savvily builds on the foundation established by the first Hunger Games movie. Read more

Jake Coyle, Associated Press: The exaggerated world of The Hunger Games... would overwhelm most young actors. But Lawrence (convincingly tormented in this film) has a calm sincerity and steely determinism that cuts through it all. Read more

Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News: One of this year's best and most thought-provoking blockbusters. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: Catching Fire is a work of thoughtful, emotionally engaging sci-fi - everything that its predecessor The Hunger Games was not. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: Sluggish pacing plagues this mid-series installment, but Lawrence's tough performance once again carries the day. Read more

David Denby, New Yorker: The grand climax, whose elements include a long piece of wire, a lightning bolt, and an electronic force field, is an incoherent, rapid blur that will send the audience scurrying back to the book to find out what's supposed to be going on. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: While nothing is more dramatic than the change at the core of this film - Katniss' move from survivor to leader - it's not enough, on its own, to comfortably sustain a two-and-a-half-hour film. Read more

Ian Buckwalter, NPR: Everything that felt clumsy in The Hunger Games has been improved upon here. Read more

Bob Mondello, NPR: Given the strength of this installment, I'd say the box-office odds continue to be, in that Hunger Games catchphrase, "ever in its favor." Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: The double, or even triple, meanings behind Catching Fire -- the subtitle, as if you didn't know, of the second Hunger Games movie -- burns through this exciting, thoughtful adventure drama like a torch to tinder. Read more

Manohla Dargis, New York Times: It's largely satisfying as far as screen adventures go, and comes fully loaded with special effects and action scenes, and embellished with the usual brand-name character actors ... Read more

Michael Sragow, Orange County Register: Katniss Everdeen's quandaries and director Francis Lawrence builds suspense through cunning shifts of character in this spiffy second chapter of the trilogy. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: Bigger, better and broodier than the first film. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: Offers its audience many of the elements that made The Hunger Games compelling, but adds to that by deepening the themes and emotional currents and traveling to darker destinations. Read more

Richard Roeper, Richard The budget is nearly twice the original, and it shows. Great work from the A-list cast, amazing set designs and costumes. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: Catching Fire, which builds on the box-office and critical success of last year's Hunger Games, is spectacular in every sense of the word. For extra pow, see it in IMAX. Read more

Andrew O'Hehir, It's a middle chapter, for sure, but a vigorous and fast-paced one that leaves you hungry for more. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: Catching Fire is best in its first hour, when it concentrates on the politics and the specific horrors of Panem. It becomes more conventional in the second half and loses steam, but it's always heading somewhere. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: Though some of the chases and escapes are thrillingly filmed, this last section of the film feels indistinguishable from plenty of other video-game-style avoid-the-obstacle action climaxes. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: The new "The Empire Strikes Back," a smashing sci-fi sequel that takes its blockbuster franchise into deeper, smarter, more dramatically engaging territory. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The ingredients are in place for a potent finale, but "Catching Fire" is watered down. Read more

Christopher Orr, The Atlantic: Now the violence is not merely physical, but existential. Far from having won her freedom as promised, Katniss is now imprisoned in a false public narrative-supporter of the Capitol, lover of Peeta-from which she may never escape. Read more

Geoff Pevere, Globe and Mail: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire takes the narrative and thematic liberties traditionally granted the middle chapter in a trilogy and drives the stakes up sharply. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: The stakes have gotten larger and also vastly more interesting, with the title games stretching from the battlefield into the mind. Read more

Alonso Duralde, TheWrap: Dismiss it as a popcorn movie if you must, but at least they've bothered to serve it with real butter and truffle salt. Read more

Cath Clarke, Time Out: Like Katniss ducking a poison-tip arrow, the keepers of Suzanne Collins's trilogy of fantasy novels have dodged the perils of the sloppy second franchise film. Read more

Keith Uhlich, Time Out: [The actors] put on their best game face, smooching plenty for the cameras... and robotically reading cue cards that emphasize the greatness of the totalitarian nation of Panem. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is crowd-pleasing and compelling, most of all because of its fiery, charismatic heroine. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, Village Voice: Jennifer Lawrence, of course, is the real draw. Female role models come and go, and Lawrence's Katniss is one of the better ones. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: Relatively speaking, Catching Fire is terrific. Even nonrelatively, it's pretty damn good. Read more

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: Fans of "The Hunger Games" should find "Catching Fire" a superlative advancement of the franchise. Read more