Director: Gary Ross.
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Wes Bentley, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland.
IF you haven't read The Hunger Games book, don't despair - you'll still be able to predict what's going to happen every step of the way in the movie.
That's not to say it's a bad film, it's just that the predictability does lessen some of the impact in this violent teen-aimed franchise-starter.
Set in a dystopian future, it follows Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) as she trains and competes in the titular competition - a gruesome, televised battle-to-the-death featuring 24 teenagers.
The competition exists as an ongoing reminder that the rich folk of the Capitol are in control and they won't tolerate any rebellion from the downtrodden citizens of the outlying districts.
Katniss volunteers to take part so her younger sister will be spared, and soon she is running and fighting for her life in an event that is part-gladitorial free-for-all, part-bloodthirsty media spectacle, and part-dictatorial subjugation exercise.
With a plot involving kids attempting to kill each other for the entertainment of others, you could be forgiven for wondering how this could be aimed at teenagers.
Certainly the violence is not as gory as it could be and it escalates at a decent pace, but the M rating (meaning it is recommended for, but not restricted to, people aged 15 years old and over) is certainly warranted. There are spearings, stabbings, arrow piercings, wild animal attacks and even a neck snapping. This is not one for the younger kids - if you're not old enough to compete in The Hunger Games (12 years old apparently), then you're not old enough to watch the movie (although I'd still have some reservations about letting a 12-year-old watch it).
Despite the amount of blood spilt, there remains a weirdly sanitised feel to the whole thing. The bad guys are cartoonish in their bloodlust and the good guys allow other competitors or animals to do their killing for them, except for the occasional mercy killing.
This means the big moral issues of the film are very black and white, but it should at least be applauded for raising some meaty themes before a teen audience. Where Twilight is merely about the importance of having a boyfriend (to paraphrase author Stephen King), The Hunger Games is about loss of humanity, political power, rebellion, violence, survival, and the continuing downward spiral of reality television.
The real highlight is Lawrence as Katniss. Her character and performance are similar in many ways to her Oscar-nominated turn in Winter's Bone (although it's unlikely the Academy will shortlist her for this type of film) - she's a stoic, headstrong and tough young woman who is old beyond her years through being raised in difficult circumstances. In short, Katniss is a powerful and memorable heroine, well-written and brought to life wonderfully by Lawrence.
The rest of the cast is largely forgettable aside from Harrelson, who is there to provide laughs, and Tucci, who goes hilariously over the top as TV show host Caesar. Unfortunately the rest of the Hunger Games competitors get short shrift in a film that is obviously trying to cram a lot into an already bloated running time.
The ending is tantalising enough to point towards some intriguing sequels. Here's hoping they're less predictable than this one though.