Friday Flicks: Critics Have an Appetite for The Hunger Games

Grab some popcorn! Check out the movies you should see (or avoid) this weekend.

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The Hunger Games

Tagline: May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

Adapted from the Suzanne Collins bestseller (by Collins herself, as well as director Gary Ross and Billy Ray), and seemingly read by everyone, the resulting Hunger Games movie has somehow managed to garner sensational reviews, ridiculous buzz and made enough pre-release box office to keep Hollywood in the fine lifestyle it’s always been accustomed to.

So what’s been going on here exactly? We (both the audience and actors) have been placed in a dystopian America (Panem), where the story, unlikely as it seems, is all about the post-apocalyptic entertainment industry. Each year, a number of the country’s youngest residents are randomly picked to fight to the death in – yup – The Hunger Games.

At the heart of the picture is Jennifer Lawrence, who impressed everyone who saw her in the Oscar-nominated Winter’s Bone. She plays Katniss Everdeen, which may sound similar to a Bond girl’s moniker, but she’s got the ruthless abilities of 007. (Props to director Ross, who introduces her to us by having her hunt down a cute little deer.) And this coal miner’s daughter gets schooled in the dark arts as Woody Harrelson (a not exactly reliable mentor) and Stanley Tucci (TV compere from hell) watch on.

And those critics watching on couldn’t be happier to give raves. “The Hunger Games is that rarest of beasts: a Hollywood action blockbuster that is smart, taut and knotty,” is how the Guardian began its review. “Hunger Games has such a strong narrative structure, built-in forward movement and compelling central character that it can’t go far wrong,” said the Hollywood Reporter. “As thrilling and smart as it is terrifying. There have been a number of big-gun literary series brought to screen over the past decade. This slays them all,” concludes Empire. If this kind of quality is kept up through the trilogy, we could be looking back upon a seriously impressive addition to the canon of blockbuster cinema.

TIME REVIEW: The Hunger Games: The Odds are Not in Your Favor

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