One of the most anticipated films of 2013 is no doubt The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the adaptation of the second novel in author Suzanne Collins' bestselling YA trilogy.
There have been some big changes behind the camera (Hunger Games director Gary Ross has been replaced by Constantine director Francis Lawerence), but today's Catching Fire image - featuring Katniss Everdeen and fan-favorite character Finnick Odair - suggests that the general look and aesthetic of the first film seems to be intact in the sequel - for better or worse.
Check out Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Finnick (SWATH star Sam Claflin) on the cover of EW:
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Catching Fire picks up in the aftermath of the first film, with Katniss struggling to return to normal life in her rundown mining district home - albeit cushioned by the wealth of her Hunger Games winnings. However, the powers that be in the capital have not forgotten the sparks of rebellion lit by the "Girl on Fire," and with the upcoming 75th Hunger Games, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) sees an opportunity to use the "celebratory" occasion to enact vengeance on Katniss in the worst way possible: by returning her to the arena.
Fans of the book will likely fill your ear with word on Finnick Odair, a previous winner of the Games who went on to become a famous celebrity playboy. Finnick hails from the maritime lands of District 4 - hence the trident he carries in the picture. Actor Sam Claflin has been a handsomely forgettable face in films like Pirates of the Caribbean 4 and Snow White and the Huntsman - it remains to be seen if Hunger Games fans embrace the actor as Finnick - let alone the interpretation of the character as seen in this EW image.
Personally, the Running Man-style jumpsuits in this image are more off-putting to me than the suits in the first film. Claflin in particular looks silly to me. I understand that this is an airbrushed magazine still image - and that this is a film adaptation, where everything gets a polish-job; I just hope that Francis Lawrence isn't afraid to get a little more gritty (and steady-handed) with the action this time around - especially since the battle sequences in Catching Fire are being fought by more adult combatants.
With Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Star Wars 7) handling the script, we expect that there will at least be some stirring drama to go with the harder (more visible) action. Hopefully the sequel delivers more improvements than disappointments.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be in theaters on November 22, 2013.