Academy award winner Jennifer Lawrence returns fiercer than ever as Katniss Everdeen in the The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, the second installment in the trilogy based on the books by Susan Collins.
Katniss, lithe and deadly with her bow and arrow, becomes the symbol of liberation from the tyranny of Panem’s Capitol and its venomous President Snow, played by veteran Donald Sutherland.
"She has become a big kind of hope for them," Snow says in the film. "She has to be eliminated."
He hatches a plot to pit Katniss against previous Hunger Games victors inside a deadlier-than-ever arena.
“It’s really an incredible story of a girl who doesn’t want to be a hero, but finds herself in a position where she is forced to be," Lawrence said.
The heroes of Catching Fire seem to be unraveling in the somber and deadly environment both inside the arena and out, in the poverty-stricken districts of Panem.
The film, intended mainly for young audiences, highlights the racial and class divisions of dystopian Panem with rich cinematography and a vast array of costumes.
Though stark and bloody at times, Catching Fire does not glorify violence. It exposes its ugly face and the bitter consequences of a struggle, no matter how necessary.
The movie franchise also promotes a new generation of movie heroine: strong and cunning, passionate and compassionate. Neither a temptress nor a tomboy, Katniss can be fearful and fearless, often saving her male friends in battle.
Willow Shields, 13, portrays Primrose, Katniss’s sister, and says Lawrence’s unaffected screen persona reflects the genuine human being.
“She doesn’t have to try," Shields said. "She doesn’t like to conform to the celeb image. So, it’s great to finally see someone who’s just themselves and not so much involved in Hollywood.”
Like Lawrence, Katniss has become, for younger audiences, a symbol of truth and hope in a world as ailing as the one on screen.