Pleasingly throwing you right into the mix, assuming that the audience has seen - and remembers - the original film, this follow-up manages to deliver a solid sequel, without suffering from too much repetition.

Since watching the first film (read my review here: I have read all three books in the series, so my expectations for this film were somewhat different, as opposed to going in cold last time.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) having won last year's Games, and succeeded in defying the rule of the Capitol and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) by keeping both herself and her fellow District 12 entrant Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) alive, finds herself experiencing recurring trauma as a result of her ordeal. Unfortunately, her requirements as a victor mean that she has to go off on a tour of the other districts, and Snow is concerned that her performance in the Games is starting to ignite the fire of revolution.

As Katniss is exposed more and more to the oppression that people are suffering, and as she is unable to do as Snow commands and try to calm it, the President and the new head Games maker - Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) - develop a new concept for the 75th Games in which all the entrants will be drawn from the pool of previous winners; meaning Katniss and Peeta find themselves back in the running.

There are, for me, two elements that have made both films so far such an exciting and intriguing franchise, firstly there's the film's political story, which is a refreshing rattle of the cage, holding a mirror up to our society, through things such as reality television and government machinations. Secondly, there's the cast, in the first film a fine ensemble was gathered together and this film expands upon that brilliantly with the inclusion of such fine actors as the aforementioned Hoffman, but also Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, Jenna Malone and Sam Claflin, as well as returning cast members; Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson and (the surprisingly good) Lenny Kravitz.

Ultimately though, as I said in my last review, the film is carried by Jennifer Lawrence who delivers a consistently honest and strong performance as Katniss. Whether it's in the unnerving depiction of her post-traumatic stress, her steely defiance of the Capitol, or her growing realisation of the injustices that surround her.

The joy of this film is in getting to watch her share the stage with various actors, her scenes with Sutherland are the most delicious, but in this film especially the relationship between Katniss and Peeta comes on leaps and bounds, with Peeta's diplomatic side coming to the fore in a number of well handled moments, making him less insipid than he had been previously.

With quite a lot to cram in to the film, new director Francis Lawrence (Constantine, I Am Legend) doesn't make much of an impact, with pacing and the emphasis of certain twists and turns falling a little flat. Once we're back in the arena things get a little dull, despite some effective and gruelling action beats (I do respect the book's - and film's - gristly, painful and un-Hollywood depiction of violence) and there's a certain inevitability to the pay-offs that strips away some of the thrills in their execution.

Though the film isn't entirely an improvement on the original, it works in areas where the first one didn't, and falls a little flat in parts where the first one shone. However, beyond the spectacle, this film is about the cast and the desire to see Katniss make a stand, and you will leave the cinema eager and giddy for the next installment.