'The Hunger Games'
Plot: In dystopian Panem, the oligarchy keeps their 12 impoverished districts in line by staging the annual Hunger Games. How it works: A boy and girl from each district are chosen by lottery to fight to the death on prime time TV. Based on the first book of Suzanne Collins' trilogy.
PG-13; 2 hours, 22 minutes
Upside: As heroine Katniss Everdeen, Jennifer Lawrence possesses a striking blend of survivalist toughness and juvenile vulnerability.
Downside: In trying to match the novel’s myriad cast, the film paints a raft of characters it can’t support.