Catching Fire really improves everything that makes The Hunger Games a great movie. While there are are some minor flaws in the mix, everything else just seem to grow in depth and quality. The film felt so immersive, and the world so real, that the political issues presented, as well as the reaction of the characters, resonates in our feelings as well.
The plot is one of the strongest aspects of this film, in that it develops from its predecessor quite brilliantly, properly displaying the consequences of the first film, yet also staging for the '75th Hunger Games' which was to be played towards the end of the film. It does not stop there, as the plot is dynamic and ever changing, and really presented us with events that audiences wouldn't come to expect.
The characterizations are brilliant, and the cast was great as well. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing, and did a wonderful job conveying the emotions like one would really do, given the situation. It's not like other science-fictions where the main hero just seemed so calm, and have no trouble killing bad guys. In this one, Katniss is such a fragile, vulnerable character thrown in the middle of a political warfare in a harsh and violent environment.
The other characters were great as well. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) seem more like a developed character than he was in the first film. Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) becomes more like a father figure (but with some "alcohol"). New characters like Finnick and Johanna are interesting additions to the series. These are two contrasting characters that seem to spark some initial rivalries, but quickly grow to become likeable. Praise to Sam Claflin and Jena Malone for brilliantly portraying these respective characters. Oh, and the character introduction of Johanna....is one of the best ever, really smart, funny and cunning. You'll know what I mean when you see it.
The movie is not without flaws, even though they are minor and not really a big deal. The games itself felt more like survival than fights. While the stakes are higher, the battle is different this time around. The action sequences weren't what I hoped they would be.
The finale is interesting. The movie ended with some strong twist and revelations, but finished rather quickly without, perhaps intentionally, explaining clearly what had happened, leaving audiences in a blur. This raises more questions and is such an obvious cliffhanger, one that frustrates a bit, but makes us eager for more. The ending was good, and I liked it and I really didn't come to expect such a conclusion. The only issue was that it felt too abrupt and fast.
Good: Strong dynamic plot, Great characterizations, Amazing cast, Brilliant new characters, Strong conclusion, Clear portrayal of emotions
Bad: Fast and abrupt ending, Not so great action sequences
(note: I may need to write a spoiler discussion about this, sometime soon)