Looking back on the story arc of Catching Fire leaves one wondering where the hell the rest of the film is. For all its flash and grandiosity, not much really happens, and it leaves very little to ponder beyond how we got suckered into making this series the phenomenon that it now is. Maybe that's because, like the first Hunger Games, about halfway through, the characters are again thrust into an unsatisfying fight-to-the-death which contributes relatively nothing to the film's already convoluted narrative, and manages to be about as thrilling as a group of toddlers playing hide-and-seek in the backyard.
Director Francis Lawrence takes over directing duties, surpassing the lackluster Gary Ross, and he provides more edge to the action, while handling the drama with a subtler touch, focusing on some interesting details the first film glazed over in its broad-strokes approach, and yet he still turns out a film that couldn't accurately be described as better than average. If Lawrence, whose films include I Am Legend, and Water For Elephants, has a trademark as a director, it's that he makes a great first half that is negated by the absolute mediocrity of the second, and while Catching Fire's narrative woes can hardly be ascribed to him, it nevertheless falls in line with his seeming lack of follow-through.