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Steve Persall’s Aim Is True in “Catching Fire”

In response to Steve Persall’s 632‑word review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on Tampa Bay Times

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Steve Persall, one of the nation’s most consistently excellent critics, has done it again with “Review: ‘Catching Fire’ a winner for ‘Hunger Games’ series.”

Once again, Persall breaks out the wry witticisms and the self-aware, winking humor that has become his trademark. Many critics do it, but few succeed like this guy. That’s because, over the years, Persall has honed an ultra keen sense of what works and what doesn’t and he’s not afraid to kill his darlings.

Thanks to this, a lot works in Catching Fire.  The punchy prose absolutely scorches the page and makes this one fly by, but Persall manages to be fluid without sacrificing any depth, which makes reading it a pure pleasure for the senses. Such effortlessness affords him the freedom to bring readers with him down any rabbit hole of criticism he feels like.

The rabbit holes of choice here are fairly standard but they’re handled with such aplomb that they feel fresh. He hits on the “accomplished” cast, the “modestly conceived” set design, and the story’s “grounded sense of humanity” before giving his final verdict: it’s “movie escapism made with intelligence, and that doesn’t come around often enough.”

You know what else doesn’t come around often enough? Critics like Persall. Get it while you can.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation