In the future, rebel districts are punished by the Reaping: every year they have to send a couple of teenagers to the Capitol. There, the kiddies fight to the death in a regulated, televised competition. Sloppily directed by Gary Ross, it’s more games than hunger and more a comment on media manipulation than games. But Jennifer Lawrence keeps things gripping as Katniss, a girl brave enough to volunteer in place of her little sister, pretty enough to charm the audience, and rugged enough to face the brutality of the arena. With Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson. (2012) — Matthew Lickona
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