A new film franchise has been born with the release of “The Hunger Games,” a movie based on the very popular young adult novel of the same title by Suzanne Collins in 2008. Early indicators are that the film will finish in the top 5 of biggest weekend film openings ever.
Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence appears in “The Hunger Games” as a young woman caught up in a deadly game of the same name. The setting is North America after some undisclosed apocalyptic event in a nation called Panem. Panem is divided into 12 impoverished districts by the wealthy class who live in what is called the capital.
For 74 years, there has been an annual bloodbath called The Hunger Games in which a boy and a girl from each of the districts is chosen by lottery to fight in an outdoor setting controlled by computers until only one of them is left alive. The participants are called tributes and the winner gets wealth and rewards.
Lawrence’s character volunteers when her little sister is chosen. She and a male friend from the district, played by Josh Hutcherson, pair off as a team, even though according to competition rules only one can survive.
Woody Harrelson plays a mentor to Lawrence’s character who give her guidance on how to win.
Stanley Tucci appears as a smarmy television host of a program that televises the entire competition to all of Panem. Donald Sutherland appears as President Snow, the absolute ruler of Panem.
“The Hunger Games” has lots of action, good sc-fi appeal, serviceable acting and a fairly original storyline, although it resembles a deadlier version of the TV reality series “Survivor” at times. At 2 hours and 22 minutes, the running time is a little long for younger audiences. But the right script elements and mix are maintained, giving everybody something to like, including the certain prospects of another film.