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Joe Gross’s Early Spark Dies Out in “Catching Fire”

In response to Joe Gross’s 696‑word review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on Austin American-Statesman

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Joe Gross’s “‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’: Jennifer Lawrence gets ready for revolution (Our grade: B+)” opens promisingly, offering up one the most concise endorsements of the film yet. If you liked the first Hunger Games, Gross promises “you will really love this one.”

He then launches into two paragraphs of criticism, and, though it’s weak analysis at best (it’s “better written, better directed and generally better executed”), it leads one to believe that a deliciously argued critique is coming.

But front loading the review with criticism turns out to be a bait and switch, as readers are then asked to slog through a seemingly endless rehash of the plot that takes up 435 words of this 696 word piece. It’s so exhaustive in its recapping, it becomes a tedious chore and most readers will have given up by the time Gross decides to get back to reviewing.

Which he does near the end with a few rushed critiques that offer some fairly salient points. The production design offers “eye-popping, explosive color,” the director does a “bang-up job splitting the difference between character work and world-building, between narrative and action,” and Jennifer Lawrence is “steely and vulnerable.”

A sagging gut in the middle and generally unmemorable critique keep this one from achieving greatness.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation