Move over Twilight - a new franchise is born with a kick-ass woman who would have slapped Bella silly for spending an entire movie sobbing and pining
First off, I have to say I have not read the Suzanne Collins bestselling trilogy. And still, I can unequivocally say this is my favorite movie so far this year.
For the uninformed, like me, hereís the gist: set in a post-apocalyptic North America, the evil leader punishes his lower class citizenry for an earlier uprising and continues to intimidate by organizing a national competition each year. Itís kinda like 'Survivor,' except instead of getting voted off the island, the participants get killed by the others til only one is left standing. Oh yeah- and the participants (called tributes) are all kids. A boy and girl are lottery-picked in each of the 12 districts so you have 24 kids fighting to the death for the amusement of a ruling class that looks like it stepped out of Alice In Wonderland. Just like reality shows, the guy who runs this yearly contest manipulates when things get too boring: from changing the rules to sending in firebombs. And just like 'Survivor,' alliances are born.
Our hero, Katniss, is a 16 year old who volunteers herself after her younger sister is picked in the lottery. So we already know this is one young woman with spunk, heart and morals. 21 year old Jennifer Laurence should already be setting up an awards room at home . She was Oscar-nominated 2 years ago for the little-seen Winter's Bone. More likely, you'll recognize her for her role as Mystique in last yearís X-Men: First Class. But this is the role that will make her a household name and face, virtually overnight, judging from pre-sales.
A blue-haired Stanley Tucci is dead-on as the Ryan Seacrest-like tv host who interviews the tributes pre-game, offering commentary while the competition is on and then, of course, does the obligatory post- game wrap-up interview. Woody Harrelson stars as a previous game winner who mentors Katniss. Elizabeth Banks was annoying in her one-noter as a female leader of the ruling class in Katnissí Appalachian-like district. Lenny Kravitz was one of the few to avoid the Alice In Wonderland look as Katniss' stylist and media coach. You canít de-cool Lenny Kravitz!!!
Blessedly, thereís no 3-D but I could have lived without the hand-held shaky camera action in the beginning. Thankfully, that technique quickly ended . Unlike Twilight, there's no cheese. But like Twilight, there's a love triangle but here, it's more a peripheral theme. Parents: you may be concerned over the kid-on-kid violence. It's not sugar-coated. So take that PG-13 rating to heart, depending on your kid.
The 2-and-a-quarter hours flew by. Simply put: The Hunger Games left me hungering for more.