The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Rated 2.0

Who the hell is Katniss Everdeen? This uninitiated-to-the-novels critic is two plodding films into the cinematic saga of the fascistic future world of Panem, and Katniss still feels devoid of personality. It's safe to assume that star Jennifer Lawrence is too smart for these one-dimensional dramatics, and the result is an indifferent performance. But then, every actor is constrained by the cluttered script by Simon Beaufoy and Michael deBruyn. Catching Fire crams in a lot of stuff that's seemingly unnecessary to the film story, presumably as a sop to fans clamoring for a more literal adaptation. As a result, we learn more about Panem politics and less about the people we're supposed to care about. The violent and eerie unpredictability of the Games makes for a decent third act, but without a strong investment in the characters, the PG-13 slaughter is just a distraction.