'The Hunger Games'
(Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, et al / PG-13 / 142 mins / Touchstone)
Overview: Based on the best-selling young-adult novel by author Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games tells the dark tale of a 16-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), who is selected to compete in a vicious televised tournament in which 24 teenagers from a post-apocalyptic society fight to the death for the entertainment of the masses.
Review: As someone following the marketing campaign of the movie, I had an image in my mind of what this movie would be. Having seen it, I have a completely new one and I find that incredibly exciting that they really didn't give much away. I would argue that posters and trailers have painted this as an epic battle but the movie felt tense and personal.
There's a real sense of following Katniss, even with something as simple as adjusting to the bright sun as she pops into the arena. As everyone expects, Lawrence doesn't disappoint and does so largely without speaking (counting to herself, shaking in pain etc.), but other truly delightful and perfectly cast actors are Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks (didn't really expect that) and Woody Harrelson.
The absolute highlight for me was the Reaping, which was chilling to a point that I didn't expect the movie would reach, even knowing the storyline. Overall a solid, emotionally tense movie that paves the way for future installments.