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It’s been nearly a year since Will and I stepped into a movie theatre (New Year’s Eve 2012 for Les Miserables, a movie both of us were less than impressed with). We got lured back to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on the big screen. Happily it was a great time and worth the $14.50 ticket price.

The movie did a great job of picking up from the first film, and holding to the book as far as I can recall (I read all three books back in December 2011 so I may not remember everything). The film’s pacing was also good. It didn’t feel like I’d been in the theater for nearly two and a half hours, which is always apprecaited.

The returning cast all seemed more comfortable in their roles. Jennifer Lawrence continued to portray Katniss’ conflict between doing what she has to do in the games and wanting no part of it. Josh Hutcherson has the wounded Peeta down to a T while also finding humor (his delivery of “there’s a force field there” was perfect). Liam Hemsworth didn’t have much to do here since Gale was mostly on the sidelines for this movie, but he was a rock solid presence for Katniss.

The newcomers were also great. Sam Claflin fit the mold of Finnick really well for me. I’m already looking forward to seeing what he does in Mockingjay since Finnick also has a significant role there. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a solid as the newly appointed game maker Plutarch. Jeffrey Wright has a small, but fun, role as Beetee. Lynn Cohen was exactly the way I thought Mags should be.

After getting Catching Fire so completely right, I hope the filmmakers work some magic on Mockingjay. Of the three books, it was my least favorite. The book’s plot was good, but everything felt rushed. With two movies planned for Mockingjay (November 2014 and November 2015), the filmmakers can give all that plot some breathing room.