Critics' Corner: Catching Fire

There is an unsettling trend that has festered its way into Hollywood. I guess you could say it has been going on for years, but this is a little different. An author writes a trilogy (or more) of books geared toward young adults, they become popular and then Hollywood milks the public dry with movies that have no ending until they actually make the final movie; which could be delayed longer and longer, depending upon how much milking takes place. â??Harry Potterâ?? was the poster child for this trend and that was followed by the â??Twilightâ?? series, both of which split their final books into two movies for more milking.

I call this an unsettling trend because often what happens is bad film-making; movies with no payoff, stories that are interrupted for months or years until they film and release the next chapter, movies that their entire purpose for existence is a side-story and finally, payoff after 4,5, or 7 movies that makes you realize that 4,5 or 7 movies was really unnecessary. I say this because â??The Hunger Gamesâ?? is one of those franchises' of films and before seeing, you should be fully aware of these downsides that I just listed.

Fortunately for â??Hunger Gamesâ??, it is spectacular film-making. Most importantly, it is gifted with an amazing actress, Oscar-winning Jennifer Lawerence, that effortlessly achieves the one thing that I think is the greatest asset that any movie can; empathy. Katniss Everdeen is an unwilling and sympathetic anti-hero and if you as an audience member don't feel the emotions that she is going through or are moving in your seat as she runs, dives and survives, you may need to check your pulse.

â??Catching Fireâ?? is more than the action movie that you would expect. It is brilliantly thought-provoking. Each character is drawn to complexity with great thought and performed with vigor by great actors. When Woody Harrelson's character Haymitch tells Katniss that the upcoming exercise is to find allies, the message is clear to her and to you the audience. From that point on, you the audience member and Katniss Everdeen are one in the same. You are studying the characters and your heart is racing when the events begin to unfold. Who does she trust? Who do you trust?

You'd have to have been in a Turkish prison not to know that â??Catching Fireâ?? is the middle book of a three-book series and the second of a four-movie series. Therefore, despite its qualities, the movie builds you to a boiling point, the screen drops to black and on the screen comes the crackling burning mockingjay icon, signifying credits and a wink to you that you'll have to wait until November 2014 for part 1 of the rest of the story and November 2015 for the concluding film. Thanks for your cash! See you then! Hope you live that long!

On the good side, rather than make you mad, the movie achieves its desired goal and lights an appropriate fire in your gut. I have already drawn three 'X''s on my living room wall. When I get approximately 365 of them, I can see the next movie. If I live that long.