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Many factors can cause stress in families, including divorce, death -4/4/2014, 9:23 AM

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Aging issues addressed in April Extension programs -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

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Birthday -3/19/2014, 9:19 AM

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Extension workshop features estate planning -3/6/2014, 3:49 PM

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KDOT announces approved February bids -3/3/2014, 4:28 PM

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Celtic guitarist Barlow performing at library -3/2/2014, 4:10 PM

Walk Kansas program offers health benefits -3/2/2014, 12:08 PM

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Preserving the Family planning event March 14 -2/27/2014, 3:49 PM

Nex-Tech hosting Tech Edge Conference in June -2/27/2014, 4:28 PM

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Student graphic designs featured in exhibit -2/26/2014, 3:49 PM

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Adjustment period can take time in step-families -2/24/2014, 11:21 AM

Birthdays -2/24/2014, 11:21 AM

Extension offers financial planning programs -2/20/2014, 9:56 AM

FHSU alum to host pitch fundraiser -2/20/2014, 9:56 AM

Program to focus on parenting teenagers -2/20/2014, 9:56 AM

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Business Briefcase (Feb. 16, 2014) -2/16/2014, 2:53 PM

To strengthen relationships, celebrate success -2/14/2014, 10:04 AM

Sternberg Museum to offer summer camps -2/13/2014, 4:00 PM

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Hays Eagle Scout earns award -2/13/2014, 4:00 PM

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Whitetail agent has message -2/2/2014, 4:00 PM

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Be aware of earned income tax credit -1/30/2014, 11:26 AM

Learning to make the most of every day in 2014 -1/29/2014, 10:00 AM

'I, Frankenstein' a monstrously bad movie -1/28/2014, 10:15 AM

Snow still piling up for Eicher family; vacation time extended -1/28/2014, 8:54 AM

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God gives us gifts, wants us to share with others -1/24/2014, 11:16 AM

Celebration Church announces new series service -1/24/2014, 11:16 AM

'Jack Ryan' lays new foundation -1/21/2014, 10:01 AM

Eicher family rings in New Year in style -1/21/2014, 8:48 AM

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Eichers gather as one big family for holiday -1/14/2014, 9:27 AM

Process of divorce can leave families in limbo at times -1/13/2014, 10:15 AM

KDA creates easy-to-follow guidelines for farmers, ranchers -1/8/2014, 3:34 PM

Eichers busy during holiday season -1/7/2014, 8:18 AM

Kansas online tax filing now available through KS WebFile -1/6/2014, 4:22 PM

Rep. Huelskamp announces military academy nominations -1/6/2014, 2:42 PM

Traveling Lincoln Exhibition coming to Hays library -1/6/2014, 2:24 PM

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Business Briefcase (Dec. 22, 2013) -12/22/2013, 11:19 AM

Management minute -- Mentoring 101 -12/22/2013, 11:18 AM

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Public record, Dec. 20, 2013 -12/20/2013, 10:42 AM

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FUMC to host night service -12/20/2013, 10:04 AM

Nex-Tech Wireless hosts annual holiday toy drive -12/19/2013, 10:04 AM

Holiday traditions build strong families -12/19/2013, 10:04 AM

Public record, Dec. 18, 2013 -12/18/2013, 10:42 AM

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Business Briefcase (Dec. 15, 2013) -12/15/2013, 3:20 PM

Chamber schedules events -12/13/2013, 8:50 AM

Utility, bank establish training program -12/11/2013, 8:07 AM

Excerpts honoring America's veterans -12/11/2013, 8:46 AM

'12 Years a Slave' intimate, powerful -12/10/2013, 10:09 AM

Pickin' at the Deines will be Sunday -12/10/2013, 8:28 AM

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SPOTLIGHT
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'Catching Fire' burns brightly

Published on -11/26/2013, 11:29 AM

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There's a very simple formula to how drama works. In Act I, you introduce the characters and the problem. In Act II, the problem grows and envelops the characters -- stifling any chance of victory. Then, in Act III, the good guys usually win.

That basic outline is the structure almost all stories follow. My personal favorite is Act II. When things get darkest, you get to see who the characters really are or what they can really do.

When it comes to trilogies, I find that I almost always like the second movie the most. "The Empire Strikes Back," "The Two Towers" and "The Dark Knight" are my favorite installments of their respective franchises. Reassuringly, "Catching Fire" is shaping up to be part of that mighty company.

Before writing this article, I reread my review of the first "Hunger Games" movie, and I'm inclined to think I was a little generous. I liked "The Hunger Games," but I was far from awed.

My biggest problem was the distance between the main characters and the overtones of the world at large. By virtue of its place as an Act II story and its cinematic execution, "Catching Fire" tells a more tightly woven tale.

"Catching Fire" not only made me believe in the world I was seeing, but it also made that world grand in scale and intimate in heart.

The story of Batman fighting gangs of thugs while single-handedly saving Gotham is ultimately secondary to the story of an emotionally broken Bruce Wayne turning his inner demons on the society that spawned them. Similarly, "Catching Fire" succeeds where "The Hunger Games" failed in that the heart of the story is a young girl finding herself the unwilling symbol of a revolution instead of a kid being thrown into a ring with a bow and a love triangle.

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" should be a crowd pleaser any way you slice it. While it's certainly not a varsity member of the "Empire Strikes Back"/"Two Towers"/"Dark Knight" team, it can very comfortably play first string on the junior varsity team.

5 of 6 stars

James Gerstner works at Fort Hays State University Foundation. james.gerstner@gmail.com

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