The-Hunger-GamesThe follow-up to the hugely successful Hunger Games had a lot to live up to, but did it exceed expectations or was it doomed to disappoint its popular prequel?

There’s no doubting the cultural enormity of the first Hunger Games film, as it spawned a new generation of post-Orwellian rebellion against a dystopian dictatorship stories like Divergent, Delirium and The Maze Runner. With this in mind, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire had a huge task in hand if it was to live up to the precedent set by its prequel.

Does it succeed in doing so? Well kind of yes and no. The film is compelled to continue the story on from the first film and this initial continuance can be a bit ploddy at times. From the revelation that Gale disapproves of Katniss’s pretend love of Peeta to the suggestion of Peeta genuinely falling in love with Katniss to the circumstances that lead to another Hunger Games (kind of necessary based on the title of the film).

It just isn’t as exciting to watch as its previous, much more refreshing counterpart (despite accusations of plagiarism of the cult, Japenese masterpiece Battle Royale) as it seems to get bogged down in binding the two films together but I guess this is a bit of a necessary evil.

Where the film really comes into its own is when it focuses more on the development of its own story rather than the continuation of the previous one. The introduction of a malevolent Phillip Seymour-Hoffman, as games-maker Plutarch Heavensbee, adds a touch of genuinely exciting tension to the film and the unique plot turns deserve much applause.

So whilst things get a bit contrived and predictable at the start of the film, the development of these plotlines more than make up for it with enticing action, authentic shocks and a story that will actually make you question how you would behave in the same situation.

One of the unexpected highlights is the satirical take on the media, through Stanley Tucci’s portrayal of the blindingly white-teethed Caesar Flickerman who adds an element of camp that acts as a comedic counterpoint to the serious action. This ensures laughs are added to the cerebral and action-based elements to create an even more enjoyable film experience

Ultimately, I would say The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is definitely worth watching and if you can endure the relatively ploddy introduction where all the loose ends of the previous film are tied up then there is a huge payoff with the rest of the film. However, if you are not on board with the first film then it might be worth giving it a miss.

FACT are showing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire this week at 10.35, 13.35, 16.40, 18.00 and 21.00 at £7.60 for a student ticket.