Even better than the first, this middle of the trilogy will have you hungering for more, thanks to the female star of her generation, last year Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence.

Jennifer Lawrence is sensational reprising her role of Katniss Everdeen, co-winner and survivor of the gladiator-style –fight-to-the death games the ruling elite airs on live tv to distract and , at the same time, control the masses barely living under in a post-apocalyptic world. The movie starts abruptly, in mid-conversation . Katniss and Hunger Games co-winner Peeta (Josh Hucherson) embark on a forced victory tour . They’re put on display like a Homecoming King and Queen. But the two become a symbol for the growing revolutionary movement , which President Snow (Donald Surtherland) decides to squash by organizing a new version of the Hunger Games: a fight to the death version of the game played by past winners/survivors .

This movie ups the ante of the first. More action, bigger stakes, more spectacular costuming (Katniss has 45 costume changes alone) , with a love triangle thrown in , all ending with a giant question mark that’ll have you asking after 2-and-a-half hours, “Is that it???”

Make no mistake about it. Jennifer Lawrence carries this franchise. She was born to play the hero Katniss. She just gets better and better with each film. Keep in mind, 23 year old Lawrence is already an Oscar winner for “silver Linings Playbook” and was nominated for best actress 2 years ago for nominee her very first film “Winter’s Bone”.

Almost equally stunning : the fashion. It’s over the top , outrageous, flamboyant and pure fantasy. While Katniss is a vision , especially in her wedding dress which turns into a political statement (don’t worry- not a spoiler) , Elizabeth Banks has the most fun. I couldn’t take my eyes off her growingly colorful and impossibly long fake eyelashes. This movie is just a vision!!!

The familiar faces from the first film are back, including Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth (Miley Cyrus’s-ex fiancé and brother of “Thor” star Chris (the great-haired) Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, and Stanley Tucci. They’re joined by a sensational Jena Malone, the always-on-the-money Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, and Toby Jones.

While the story alone on its face value is completely entertaining, its themes resonate: celebrity obsession ; the widening disparity between the haves and have nots; and a nation distracted from their own day to day troubles by reality tv. Sound familiar??

Even without seeing the first, you can easily catch on to the story. This is the rare sequel that far surpasses the first. I’m hungering for more.

4 stars