When the movie was over, I asked her and her husband if they'd read articles before that said the two movies were near-identical? They hadn't, though he said, "I overheard some people talking, and one said, 'If you liked the first Hunger Games, you'll like the second one.' I had no idea the guy meant because it was the same movie."
To be clear, no, they aren't "exactly" identical. There are some plot changes that take storyline advances into consideration. But for all intents, they're the same. It's bizarre.
The movie is well-made, and I enjoyed it well-enough. Hey, as that guy said, I'd liked the first one okay, so why wouldn't I like this? Where it leads, the third one will, I'm sure, be different -- though that was the case where the first one left off, as well.
One filmmaking matter does bug me, and my friends had noticed the same thing.
The whole point of The Hunger Games in that society is that they're broadcast all over, and the citizens are riveted by them, and that's how Katniss has become so wildly popular and beloved. Because the entire society was on the edge of its collective chairs, watching and loving how she saved her true love.
Except not once, not one scene, not for a single moment in two movies -- and that's about five hours of screen time -- do they ever show a single person watching the Games on TV!! They do show The President, played by Donald Sutherland, watching in his office or the Control Room, but that doesn't count. And they show the broadcasts being done, with Stanley Tucci as the unctuous M.C. But that's not the same as people at home watching, or in bars or anywhere. Given that the movies cost a few gazillion dollars, and given that the filmmakers aren't concerned about trimming the length to keep the movies short -- how easy and inexpensive and short would have been to just throw in two or three brief scenes (or just one) of people watching??! Considering that point of these three movies is clearly how the popularity with the viewing public of Katniss is what leads towards revolution, you'd think that it was sort of, well...important.
I also don't know why they called the movie, The Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire. A more obvious title would have been, The Hunger Games 2: The Hunger Games 1 Redux.