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Movie Review: 'The Hunger Games'

Our movie critic went to see "The Hunger Games" this weekend. See how close it comes to the beloved book series.

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Robert Burleson
As I am writing this I realize that a large percentage of people have already seen “The Hunger Games." This weekend, it had the third highest opening box office haul ever - behind only the last Harry Potter and Batman films.

This movie is considered an "event movie." A film where the people who have read the book come out to see the words on the page come to life, and the people who haven’t read the book come out to see what all the bookworms are talking about. The latter group might leave the theater a little more perplexed at the end, but I think both groups can enjoy this well-made movie.

I am one of the bookworms, and while this is not a review of the book, I will say that I enjoyed it. Not amazing but a solid read.

As with most book-to-film adaptations, the filmmakers had to do some editing. Cut some dialog here. Cut some characters there. This is one of the reasons I think the viewers who have read the book will enjoy the movie a little more. While the film hits all of the major beats of the book, they leave out some of the explanation and depth that help you to connect with some of the more minor characters in the film.

The story follows a girl who is forced to enter into a televised death match alongside other teens. The government of this future world holds yearly hunger games to show the surrounding areas that they need to stay in line and do as they are told. The book handles the absurdity of the situation with a little more tact than the movie. While I never questioned the relevance of the hunger games to the fictional world of the book, the film doesn’t handle children killing each other as well. I couldn’t help but wonder how all these people could sit and watch the violence before them and not want to stop it. I never thought that while reading the book.

Even with this nagging thought, I did enjoy the film, but it was a little long. The beginning felt slow. I loved the look of the people and surroundings in the capital city.

The action is shot a little too tight and “shaky cam” is used to hide some of the violence from the audience so that the film can get away with a PG-13 rating.

It was well-acted, nothing special, but the actors were competent. Woody Harrelson was the only one who really stood out to me.

A problem I found with the film that has been carried over from the book is the abrupt ending. There are a lot of unanswered questions in the end. Hopefully some of the questions can get answered in the upcoming sequel, which will hopefully bring the filmmakers back to the mountains of North Carolina for another round of filming.

Definitely my favorite part of the film was spotting familiar North Carolina locations. It reminded me of growing up in the mountains.

Final take: Overall good, but not great. 3 of 5 stars
Your turn: Did you see "The Hunger Games?" What did you think? Did you spot UNC grad Rachel Nash, who was an extra in the film? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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