“The Hunger Games” is a darkly themed narrative set in a futuristic dystopian society. An ordinance mandates a boy and girl between 12 and 18 from 12 localities must endure an annual deadly decathlon. When pre-teen Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields) is called in the lottery drawing, her sixteen-year-old, gutsy sister Katniss (an outstanding Jennifer Lawrence) steps in for her frightened sibling. She’s skilled in archery and her male match is the less capable Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) is another combatant adept as a young gladiator, and both boys could be sweet on their female counterpart. When the televised “games” do begin, they’re anything but “fun” in an atmosphere of violence and fights to the death.
Praiseworthy, Jennifer Lawrence nails down the role of the central character of Suzanne Collins’ first venture of the acclaimed trilogy of novels. Name actors in supporting roles include Woody Harrelson as a trainer/mentor, Donald Sutherland as the dictator, Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci. Director–co-screenwriter Gary Ross’ screen version has impressive production qualities of CGI, cinematography and music. This debut film is a combination of sci-fi action-adventure, teenage love/human interest, and a treatise on social mores.