In preparation for this review, I went back and read my review of THE HUNGER GAMES. Holy cow, I devoted a lot of that to comparing it to BATTLE ROYALE. Nobody's talking about that anymore, which is good because the comparison wasn't really that apt.
Now we're on Katniss' and Peeta's Victory tour, being showered as the new darlings of the capitol but also seeing how her victory (and defiance of the rules) has sparked more rebellious spirit in the people. President Snow pays her a personal visit and assures her if she can't convince the people--especially him--that her love story with Peeta is absolutely true--that she'd rather die than be without him--than there will be hell to pay. If not for her, for her family, friends, and the whole district.
Philip Seymour Hoffman shows up, at a party in the capitol but not dressed as outrageously as everyone else. He's the new game designer, and cryptically mentions that Katniss' victory convinced him to come out of retirement. And he has a great twist for the new games. It's the 75th Hunger Games, and every 25 years there's something called a "quarter quell." This being the third quarter quell, the games have a special twist--the tributes shall be selected from the ranks of the victors. Since district 12 has only 3 victors--Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson, becoming more interesting than just the cynical drunk he was in the first movie)--we get the ridiculous scene of all the pageantry of selecting Katniss' name from a pool of exactly one female. Peeta volunteers as the male tribute, and finally an hour and a half into the movie we actually get to the Hunger Games part. The competitors are now older and (mostly) deadlier, and none are very happy about being there (well, maybe the ones from districts 1 and 2, where training to be a tribute is a career track.) Alliances are formed and...well. I won't give away the ending. I will say I predicted some of it. And it's basically all a setup for the third movie, the rebellion, and an actual war. And I'm looking forward to that.
If I think about it, all my objections about the unrealistic world-building in the first movie still hold, but...they just don't bug me anymore. It's entertainment, and for what it is it's pretty damn good. I'll just accept that it takes place in a world so stagnant that this system really could hold for 75 years. But it's finally cracking.
Running Time: 146 minutes
My Total Minutes: 343,542