Based on the best-selling novel by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is set to be one of the biggest blockbuster franchises of the year (perhaps even the decade).

Set in a dystopian future, in Panem (previously North America), a war-torn country ravished by poverty and famine, and divided into 12 districts and the Capitol, each year the country goes through a ritual called The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games are an annual event in remembrance of the war in which 24 contestants are pitted against each other in an arena in which the winner is the last person standing, i.e. alive. All of Panem watches the game live on national television, in an eerie and brutal reality game show.

Each district randomly selects a boy and a girl, called Tributes, between the ages of 12 and 18, in a process called The Reaping, to be sent off to the Capitol where the games take place. In Distrtict 12, Katniss Evergreen's (Jennifer Lawrence) younger sister, Primrose, is selected as the female Tribute, but Katniss volunteers and takes her place instead. The male Tribute is Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss' former classmate.

At the Capitol, the Tributes are revamped, styled and trained by a select team, former contestant Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), stylist Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) and the gaudy Effie (Elizabeth Banks), before being taken to the arena.

Directed by Gary Ross, the film is an exciting, nerve-wracking and hugely entertaining picture. The pace is never too slow, and never too fast, and keeps the viewer constantly on the edge of their seat.

Jennifer Lawrence's performance is fantastic; her role as the smart, compassionate and tough Katniss is played to perfection. Her teammate (and rival) Hutcherson is also brilliant as Peeta, offering glimpses of a competitive yet kindhearted personality.

The film is elevated by great supporting performances from Donald Sutherland, who plays President Snow and Wes Bentley as game designer Seneca Crane. Harrelson is brilliant as the somewhat intoxicated but sensitive Haymitch, and Banks is equally great as the kooky and garish Effie. Stanley Tucci, playing the Hunger Games host Caesar Flickman, is hilarious and brings lightness to the otherwise dark theme.

The script is intelligent, never cheesy, and lures the adults probably more than the teenage fans who are rushing to see the movie.

High-quality CGI animation lends The Hunger Games an added edge, and costume design rounds up the movie's already successful production.

Die-hard fans may protest that some of the details in the book were left out, a complaint that is heard with all adapted screenplays. However, for someone who has not read the book, the film has enough details to keep you enthralled.

Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars. An exciting and action packed adventure with remarkable performances. Highly recommended.

– Alya Al-Othman

Images: The Hunger Games

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