In the midst of endless bickering over all the various things movie franchises are doing completely wrong, the Hunger Games franchise appears to be doing just about everything right. The popularity and staying power of the series has been confirmed by the overwhelming success of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which has been almost unanimously embraced by critics and is currently setting records at the box office.
It’s easy to get disoriented by the shameless merchandising and ubiquitous marketing of the movies and lose sight of the actual quality of the films themselves. Yes, it’s ridiculous (intentionally so?) that makeup companies are trying to appeal to people who dig the look of the gluttonous Capitol residents. Yes, there’s something weird about a popular movie purportedly geared towards young people in which teenagers kill each other for their ancestors’ punishment and for the detached amusement of the 1%. Even the push to make Josh Hutcherson a huge star feels a little forced—not necessarily undeserved, but maybe a tad bit soon.
Many folks will dismiss the entire series as pulpy nonsense, chalking up its cultural significance to marketing and research. Fortunately, most people are celebrating both Hunger Games movies for what they are: popular cinematic storytelling that is actually well-told; or perhaps, quality filmmaking that has been deservedly widely adored. Yes, both movies. It shouldn’t be forgotten that the first movie was actually a tremendously solid film in its own right, even though Catching Fire seems to be an even bigger hit.
So, on that note, here are 8 qualities that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire either continued or improved upon from the first movie. The spoiler-phobic may proceed at their own risk.
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