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'Hunger Games': To like the movie, do you have to read the book? (+trailer)

Hunger Games reviews from movie critics have been largely positive. Reviewers praise the tough message of the Hunger Games, and the actors' performances.

By Contributor / March 21, 2012

Reviewers universally praised Jennifer Lawrence's performance in 'Hunger Games.'

Murray Close/HONS/Lionsgate/AP

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The film adaptation of the Suzanne Collins novel “The Hunger Games” doesn’t hit theaters until Friday. But the hype is wall-to-wall and many of the movie reviews by film critics are in. The verdict? The movie looks to be a winner whether you’ve read the book or not.

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For most reviews, “Hunger Games,” which has currently sold more advance tickets than any non-sequel, scored ratings of at least four out of five stars, three out of four stars, and a few "A" grades. Critics particularly praised actress Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as heroine Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to replace her sister in the deadly Hunger Games run by a dystopian government.

“At its center is Jennifer Lawrence, an ideal choice to play this strong, independent young woman,” Associated Press reviewer Christy LeMire wrote of the film. “There’s a youthful energy and even a vulnerability that make her relatable to the core, target audience of female fans. Lawrence is endlessly watchable." 

Chicago Tribune reviewer Michael Phillips said he would praise Lawrence as the best thing in the film if the rest wasn’t equally as good. 

“The young actress received an Oscar nomination for her work in "Winter's Bone," and her performance here is no less fierce and purposeful,” he wrote. 

Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum agreed: “Jennifer Lawrence… is, in her gravity, her intensity, and her own unmannered beauty, about as impressive a Hollywood incarnation of Katniss as one could ever imagine,” Schwarzbaum wrote.

Reviewers also agreed that director Gary Ross’s film treatment of the source material keeps the societal commentary of author Suzanne Collins’ original trilogy.

“So-called reality TV is given a sharp, satirical kick as Tributes learn to play and pander to hidden cameras,” writes Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers.

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