So, it's the future and America is now segregated into districts. There once was thirteen districts, but number thirteen had an uprising and was obliterated according to the government. Now, to remind folks not to uprise, the Capitol hosts the Hunger Games. Each district must have a reaping - i.e. pick a male and female between age 12 and 18 to attend a fight to the death. Only one winner. As the saying goes - Happy Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen (the superb Jennifer Lawrence) chooses to volunteer in place of her twelve year old sister, Prim. Katniss can hunt with a bow and knife, she's athletic, and determined from District 12. The boy, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), is the baker's son - wiry and stronger than he looks; he's had a thing for Katniss for years. However, she's close to Gale (Liam Hemsworth) who's stuck back home (the book gives us more).
The movie builds tension through the reaping. Then we see the trip to the Capitol for the duo. They meet their drunk mentor, Haymitch (Woody Harrelson). He's supposed to guide them and find sponsors. His cynical attitude works, and he slowly warms to Katniss. He wants District 12 to win. Cinna (Lenny Kravitch) is Katniss's designer confidante. He makes her look great. The whole thing is part pageant, show, and media blitz. It shows how government can spin things - even death.
President Snow (Donald Sutherland) with his silky voice manipulates and sleazes throughout. He's so good, and is Katniss' nemsis. He's not pleased at her talents.
The actual games are brutal. The film does a good job of depicting the challenges, and also the manipulation from the Capitol headquarters. Let's just say it's not all fair. I'm not going to spoil and tell any more. Bring a tissue for a character's final outcome. Root for Katniss - she's a hardcore heroine who doesn't know her powers. After 2-1/2 hours you are going to want more. You'll be pleased with Hunger Games, but there's way more to the story and adventure. It's only just begun.
So - c'mon. Buy your ticket, some popcorn, and be drawn into the world of Panem. Happy Hunger Games, indeed.