The Hunger Games 2012 ★★★

A pretty good movie that, while it is overly long and suffers from poor pacing in the first half, is saved by some really great performances.

First off I have to mention Jennifer Lawrence. She's great here. I think I'll always have at least some respect for her acting abilities because of the her performance in Winter's Bone. She was fantastic in that, and it is nice to see her not phone this one in and really try and bring some real acting to what could have been a blowoff role for some other actresses.

Next is Woody Harrelson. He brings his trademark humor and nonchalance infused with intensity and passion that shows through when it needs to. Another good turn for him. Elizabeth Banks was indistinguishable to me in the first half of the film (although I did know it was her because of her credit listing) and she completely dissolves into her character.

And finally, Stanley Tucci. What a perfect casting choice. He had me cracking up in just about every scene he was in. Such enthusiasm for a minor character, he really added to the credibility of the world building, which is a very strong aspect of the film as a whole.

Even if you think the story is reused or contrived, The Hunger Games does succeed in making this a moot point by creating a truly realized world that is bolstered by strong, credible performances. If they could have handled some of the story aspects a little better, this could have been one of the years top films.

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