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The Hunger Games: movie review

'The Hunger Games' has echoes of some great films of its type: the reality-show forerunners.

By Andy Klein / March 23, 2012

'Hunger Games' star Jennifer Lawrence is only one of the casting choices director Gary Ross got right.

Murray Close/HONS/Lionsgate/AP

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The film adaptation of the first of Suzanne Collins's three "Hunger Games" novels arrives with the most sure-shot appeal of any nonsequel since "Twilight" (2008). Both target the same demographic: ages, roughly 10 to 18; gender, female; social media choice, all of them.

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Unless the movie disappoints them – and it won't – they'll spread the good word via Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and Pinterest or whatever it is that, unbeknownst to an older demographic, may have already supplanted them.

"The Hunger Games" takes place in a postapocalyptic America. All that remains of the United States is Panem, a 12-district federation headed by cagey President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Capitol, Panem's central city, is home to a wealthy, decadent elite, whose comforts and high-tech toys are supported by the labor of an impoverished majority. It's a social structure with echoes of "The Time Machine," "Metropolis," and John Boorman's whacked-out "Zardoz."

IN PICTURES: The Hunger Games

Having crushed a broad rebellion some 74 years ago, the government reasserts its authority over the population by staging the annual Hunger Games, a sort of gladiatorial competition-cum-reality TV show: 24 teen-agers – one boy and one girl from each district – are abandoned in a wilderness from which only one will be allowed to emerge alive.

Among this year's contestants is tough, resourceful Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) from the poorest region of all: District 12, a coal-mining area that looks a whole lot like 1930s Appalachia. Will Katniss survive? Will she be able to avoid killing Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), the other District 12 entrant, for whom she may be developing romantic feelings? Will the sun rise tomorrow?

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