Gary Ross adapts the first of a trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins, introducing movie audiences to a future world where moneyed elites, having quashed a rebellion by poorer citizens, rub the losers’ noses in it with an annual event that pits the children of the 99 percent against each other in a televised duel to the death. Jennifer Lawrence, an actress possessed of a palpably tough core beneath her soft edges, brings these qualities to bear as heroine Katniss Everdeen. She’s a shrewd casting choice and a strong pillar for Collins’ series. And Ross, though he leaves certain themes underdeveloped---particularly the culpability of the bloodthirsty reality TV audience---effectively navigates the difficult tonal problem inherent with a story about a kid-on-kid massacre and provides a sturdy, entertaining foundation for the inevitable sequels.
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