The Hunger Games, based on the book, is about a dystopian future where the world and/or US is divided into 12 districts and each year they sacrifice one boy and girl to fight to the death in a television Running Man-esqe show called The Hunger Games.  Jennifer Lawrence, who is awesome in Winter’s Bone if you haven’t seen it, is pretty awesome in this.  Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrleson and Lenny Kravitz play the host and the main character’s support team respectively.

The movie is decent, but that’s not really the problem.  The problem is, it’s extraordinarily hard to portray the future.  The same problems with bringing 1984 to the screen, plague this movie.  It’s hard to relate to the characters because most of your time is consumed trying to understand how their world works.  Now, I didn’t read the books, so I went into this movie with only the knowledge I had gleaned from reviews like this at NPR.   That reviewer called the movie “the work of moral cowards” for not portraying the carnage like the book.  I can see some of that in Gary Ross’s direction.  The emphasis is all on the kids and very little on the side characters.

Unfortunately, the side characters explain this world and set what little tone there is.  Consequently, the world isn’t fully formed by the time the games start, so I wasn’t totally on board with what was at stake.  And without the grounding of when this movie takes place, I couldn’t really relate to some of the events.  Obviously either the main character is going to win or there’s going to be some kind of revolution.  Elements of both are hinted at, but ultimately this is Part 1 of 3, so I think the movie makers pulled their punch with some of the material.

Is it good?  Well, it’s entertaining.  But it felt like a long episode of the Twilight Zone or a sci-fi special, not a major motion picture.  This probably would’ve worked much better as a mini-series.  I honestly don’t know how they’re going to make it to the third one and the ending is kind of, well—  It just sort of ends and feels very much like a TV episode.  So, I guess if you’ve read the books and liked them, you’ve probably already seen it.  If you haven’t, I’d say this is more of a rental.  I give it 6 keggers out of 10.