It’s a disturbing dilemma with plenty of modern-day parallels and a story yarn that only gets more intriguing as it progresses. Armed by winning performances, particularly from Lawrence who commands your attention from the beginning, not to mention a terrific sense of pacing as the events unfold, the journey hits on every possible emotion without being preachy or manipulative in the process.

In fact, the only minor misstep in what’s a fantastic launching pad for a hit franchise is courtesy of the special effects department. Like the werewolves the filmmakers never managed to get right in Twilight, The Hunger Games also suffers from a few mutant beasts that should be far more menacing than they actually are.  

That quibble aside, however, Collins, who helped pen the screenplay, not to mention her devoted legion of fans, should be ecstatic with how the adaptation turned out. And if we’re lucky, perhaps, the odds will ever remain in The Hunger Games’  favor in the future, too.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Some social drinking, mostly by Haymitch Abernathy who dispenses boozy advice to Katniss and Peeta.
  • Language/Profanity: A single use of he-l, bit--, bast--- and da--, plus occasional British slang like pi--off and bloody.
  • Sex/Nudity: No sex or nudity. A couple of kisses are shared, but nothing overtly passionate.
  • Violence: Given that the story revolves around 24 teenage guys and girls fighting to the death on live television, there’s a constant sense of peril right from the beginning. Most of the killing is done offscreen, but there’s still plenty of on-screen action including stabbings and sword fighting. One character is speared to death, while another is eaten by genetically mutated dogs. An army of wasps take out another character, while another has his head bludgeoned with a rock. Bows and arrows are also used for combat. Bloody, open wounds and several dead bodies are shown up close on several occasions.
     

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blogFor more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.






CORRECTION: This review has been revised as of March 23, 2012 to reflect that Katniss was the first volunteer "from District 12" in the history of The Hunger Games and not the first volunteer (from all districts) in the history of the games.