The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be one of many blockbuster genre properties occupying the fall 2013 calendar, and like its predecessor, the marketing campaign for the movie has been a slow and methodical crescendo. Whether the marketing campaign for Catching Fire has been as effective as its predecessor… that’s another debate entirely.

Now however, we come to the point in cycle where it’s time for Lionsgate to show more of the cards in hand – i.e., leaving behind the dystopian revolution subplot, or the highlighting of new characters, and really getting down to the meat of what fans and general audiences want to see: the new vision of the deadly Hunger Games arena. And they got… fog and monkeys.

For those who don’t know (and couldn’t tell from the rapid montage of footage in that final trailer), the story of Catching Fire involves the Capitol – led by despot President Snow (Donald Sutherland) – cracking down on the poor districts of Panem, which have emboldened to revolution by the victorious stand of Katniss and Peeta in the 74th Hunger Games. In “honor” of the games’ 75th anniversary, President Snow institutes a “Quarter Quell,” in which Hunger Games survivors are thrown back into the ring to face-off against one another, seasoned killer vs. seasoned killer.

As seen in the trailer, the new games arena is more of a tropical setting – as opposed to the woodland forest seen in the first film; there’s also  a new director involved, as Francis Lawrence (Constantine) takes over the helm from Hunger Games director Gary Ross. But honestly, this particular trailer doesn’t really reveal whether or not some of the chief criticisms fans had with the first film got worked out under Lawrence’s supervision. The action still looks budgeted, and the CGI monkeys alone are bound to invite comparisons to Indiana Jones 4 – never a good thing.

In short: while not at all bad, this new trailer still isn’t great, and Catching Fire doesn’t look like anything clearly better or more improved than The Hunger Games. It’ll probably appease die-hard fans and will turn a fair profit – so if that’s the only standard to judge by…

With the two-part adaptation of Mockingjay already rolling along and adding cast members by the day, it’s clear that Lionsgate is going to push this Hunger Games franchise to the very end (and probably beyond); one only hopes that the ride is actually worthwhile. 

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be in theaters on November 22, 2013.

Source: Lionsgate