Good news for fans of Katniss Everdeen, as the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, is off to a great start with the critics ahead of its release on November 22nd. In fact, it's sitting pretty at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment, with a decent number of reviews stating that the change in directors from Gary Ross to Francis Lawrence has made for a big improvement on the first film. I'm definitely happy to hear that, as my biggest complaint with that movie was the murky, unnecessarily dark camera work and annoying shakicam (not everyone can be Paul Greengrass). Although, there are some who note that the sequel is still more "safe and serviceable" than it is anything else. Honestly, my wish is for a studio to take a risk with these YA adaptations and hand one over to an imaginative and creative visionary, the way WB did with the third (and best) Harry Potter movie, Prisoner of Azkaban, by giving it to Alfonso Cuaron, who actually did inventive and cinematic things with it. If these movies are guaranteed to make so much money anyway, doesn't that free them up to at least try to make it more than just "safe and serviceable" for the fans?
"As 'The Empire Strikes Back' of young adult adaptations, 'Catching Fire' is a monumental achievement, a massively entertaining crowd-pleaser that is thought-provoking and personally inspiring in all the ways that it aspires to be." (The Playlist)
"In director Francis Lawrence's steady hands (gone are the previous film's needlessly spastic camera moves) 'Catching Fire' makes for rousing entertainment in its own right, leaving fans riled and ready to storm the castle." (Variety)
"Across the board, the new film boasts a noticeably spiffier, more confident feel than the first, even as the overriding impression is one of methodical responsibility to the source material." (Hollywood Reporter)
"On her way to becoming one of the greatest sci-fi heroines since Ripley, the avenger of District 12 is as undefined by her vulnerability as she is by her inner strength; anchoring the series with an emotional realism that upstages everyone else." (Total Film)