Movie Talk

‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’: New Stills Feature a Contemplative Katniss

Movie Talk

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Two new official stills from the upcoming "Hunger Games" sequel have been released, featuring a Katniss Everdeen who's traded her crossbow for a deep sense of dark contemplation.

It's only been a little over a year since the release of the original "Hunger Games," but star Jennifer Lawrence actually looks considerably older in the new pics from "Catching Fire." Maybe it's because we now see her more as "a woman" due to her Oscar-winning turn in "Silver Linings Playbook" than as the teenage heroine of a YA adaptation, but more likely it's because that Katniss herself has grown in leaps and bounds since co-winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games … and is about to embark on an even more deadly and taxing challenge.

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Katniss doesn't even look too happy to be reunited with her little sister, Primrose (Willow Shields, who herself now looks way too old to be referred to as "Little Duck") -- that's because her time spent with friends and family is to be short-lived, as she and her co-winner/pending love interest, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), must soon embark on a "Victor's Tour" of the many districts of Panem. On their journey, they will become involved with an impending revolution against the Capitol and the nefarious President Snow, who is busy preparing the 75th Annual Hunger Games, the "Quarter Quell," in which past victors are pitted against each other in an even more violent and high-stakes competition.

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" got off to something of a rocky start when original "Hunger Games" director Gary Ross announced that he wouldn't be returning to direct the sequel. Ross was soon replaced with Francis Lawrence ("Constantine," "I Am Legend"), with Lionsgate releasing a slew of fan-pleasing casting announcements soon thereafter, including Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, Jena Malone as Johanna Mason, Jeffrey Wright as Beetee, Amanda Plummer as Wiress and, most notably, "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Snow White and the Huntsman" heartthrob Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair.

The novel by Suzanne Collins, published in 2009, is considered by many fans to be the "Empire Strikes Back" of the series with its multi-tiered narrative, rich character development and much darker and more mature tone. In many ways, "Catching Fire" is a much more anticipated film than the original "Hunger Games" as fans wait to see if the filmmakers can pull off what's a much more difficult and nuanced story than that of its predecessor.

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" will hit theaters on November 22, 2013, just in time to add a little more "Hunger" to your Thanksgiving holiday.

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