By Renee Collins    
3.5 out of 5 Stars

I had not read the HUNGER GAMES books before I saw this film and an enormous amount of hype surrounds this production, but I only knew what the trailers told me.  Children from twelve districts, one boy and one girl, are randomly chosen to fight to the death in what is called the hunger games each year as a punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing intimidation tactic. 

 I found Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of the calm but driven Katniss Everdeen to be refreshing, because I didn’t know what to expect from her character throughout the movie.  Everdeen grew up in district 12, a mining area where she hunts in the forest to help feed her mother and sister.  This rugged upbringing translates well when she enters the game.  I found myself drawn into the story because of the wonderful character development.  Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark fellow District 12 Tribute and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy their mentor, because he had won the games in his youth, each did a wonderful job in their roles.  However, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna another mentor and Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman the games television host were the standouts to me.  They brought a depth to their characters and I truly enjoyed both of their performances. 

There are not too many special effects to speak of in this film, but the overall look, costuming and makeup are spectacular.  As usual, if nothing stands out to me in terms of visuals or CGI, than all is well.  The people who live in the districts are the working class and those in the city are the aristocrats.  When the players are brought into the capital, it felt transported into another world because the way everyone dressed, spoke and lived was so diametrically opposed to those in the districts. 

I also liked the fact that restraint was used while showing some of the violence in this film.  During some of the gruesome scenes, the camera was rather shaky and it was hard to see who was doing what to who and in the end I didn’t mind because I had no real interest in explicit images of children fighting children to the death.

I am curious if the movie lived up to the books and at two and a half hours, I cannot imagine what was left out.  This film is well written, acted and is visually compelling, and overall, I found it well worth seeing in the theaters, but I still wouldn’t pay full price.



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