The Hunger Games: set in a dystopian future, teens from 12 impoverished districts must fight to the death in a custom-built arena, where only one can survive, and it’s broadcast live. The biggest problem is the overlong setup – even if it is kicking off a franchise, a totalitarian, elite ruling class keeping the rest of society in the pits doesn’t need to be explained or dwelled on for over an hour (it also makes the ending feel majorly rushed). The Capitol – imaginative name for a city – itself is pretty stupid; granted it’s unique, but the clothes / hair / beard and furniture designs were all beyond silly and ridiculous. The acting roster is great, there’s a few shaky characters (sister / mum / BF) but once it leaves district 12 it’s mostly decent from both young and old. Woody and Hutcherson in particular are magnetic presences – Katinis is also decent, but you learn far more about her in the games than the actual character building nonsense. Other than the pacing issues, CGI dogs, and a few poorly edited, bloodless, fight-scenes the film’s petty solid, and looks great. The difference-maker between The Hunger Games being received as good or great will depend on age; anyone old enough to have seen the dozens of movies with sci-fi city-scapes, morally bankrupt quest for ratings, or organised deathmatches, will no doubt feel that this is retreading old ground. But if I was 12 and seeing all of that for the first time, I’d probably shit my pants with excitement.