Tyler McCalpin’s review published on Letterboxd:
Vastly exceeding it's predecessor in every aspect, Catching Fire gives weight to a series of which I had no intentions to care for. I felt the first installment of The Hunger Games to be painfully naive and rather underwhelming. The screenplay failed to develop characters I could identify with or at least care for. Katniss was frustratingly stubborn and Peeta may have been the biggest pussy ever to be displayed on film. How could anyone possibly cheer for a tribute whose only skills are tossing sacks of flour and painting? I could rant about The Hunger Games for hours: the choppy pace, the un-compelling characters and the underdeveloped themes are amongst several aspects that did not work well for me. However, Catching Fire is a revelation to it's interminable prequel.
The second installment of the extremely popular franchise is an improvement in every sense. Director Francis Lawrence is able bring forth the thematic complexity that is said to be present in the novel (I haven't read it). He gives weight to the actions and choices of the characters, he builds a more intricate plot, and he conceptualizes important themes that were underdeveloped in the first film; not to mention, he sets a wild pace and produces some interesting action sequences. I felt more appreciative of Katniss, and a little less sick to my stomach for Peeta. I also enjoyed the ongoing development of Gale, Haymitch and Snow. Overall, the sequel provides the meaning, motivations and mentalities that the first installment lacked.
I'm sure almost everyone will enjoy this film (at least somewhat), and I can honestly say I'm looking forward to the third installment of the Hunger Games franchise. Recommend to all.