The Hunger Games is a novel by Suzanne Collins, and Catching Fire is the second novel in the trilogy. Both movies are based on the novels and Collins herself is involved in the production effort, thus insuring that they are fairly close to her vision for the story. I read the trilogy before the first movie (The Hunger Games) was released. Catching Fire opened to huge box-office numbers that are often found over the Thanksgiving Holiday period and overwhelmingly positive reviews.
In a dystopian future a totalitarian government fights to stay in power. Pandering (mainstream) media outlets are the government's cat's paw. All wealth funnels to the nation's capitol while poorer regions are looted for the benefit of a power elite. In the outlying districts, hunger is pervasive. In the capitol, people eat, vomit (to void their stomachs) and then eat more.
A narcissistic president (Donald Sutherland) sees growing discontent among the people as a rebellion begins to form in the hungry districts. The rebellion begins to coalesce around Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). In Catching Fire, Katniss is once again the focus of a blending of Roman style gladiatorial games and reality television, blended in thematic content to form the plot. She is vaguely aware of her role as a revolutionary lode stone, but understands all too well that if she plays on that, her family and other innocent people will be murdered by the totalitarian regime.
If you liked The Hunger Games, you'll like Catching Fire, which picks up where the first film left off. I'm interested to see how they handle the third book in the trilogy, The Mocking Jay, which I personally found to be rather poorly written. The book felt 'rushed', and Collins, who would seem to have little understanding of practical small unit combat, tries to write about it. My sense is that they'll fix those problems in the movie, which is certain to follow.
(Fox News) Jeremy Kingsley wrote a good piece on four leadership lessons from The Hunger Games.
As with any sequel, if you didn't see the first film, there is a lot you won't understand about the second. If you plan to see this one at the theaters, I suggest you visit the local red box and rent The Hunger Games and view it first.