Send your condolences to the young-adult adaptation that has to follow The Hunger Games (hey, Breaking Dawn—Part II, how is that werewolf/baby half-vampire love story coming together?). The dystopian future created by director Gary Ross in the high-profile film adaptation is as grim, as menacing, and, yes, as grown up as the original young adult novels.
As Katniss Everdeen, the stoic teen archer who volunteers to take her sister’s place in a kill-or-be-killed battle against 23 other teenagers, Jennifer Lawrence nails the mix of tough and tender that makes the character so endearing. And while the social criticism (the Capitol’s slaves to plastic surgery that view human misery as entertainment look awfully familiar despite their outrageous green wigs) is not lost, the film is gripping entertainment first. Even for fans of the book who know the outcome, the lead-up to the Games is agonizingly suspenseful.
Ironically, after the splendour of the Capitol, the action-packed Games are a little underwhelming—the forest battles look like slightly suped-up matches of Capture the Flag. But it hardly matters, as the film strikes the perfect tone of thrilling adventure and chilling social commentary. The odds of a box-office bonanza could not be more in the film’s favour.