Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 44 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 44
  2. Negative: 2 out of 44
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Mar 20, 2012
    100
    As tough-spirited as fans would hope for - and exciting and thought-provoking in a way few adventure dramas ever are.
  2. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Mar 20, 2012
    91
    A muscular, honorable, unflinching translation of Collins' vision. It's brutal where it needs to be, particularly when children fight and bleed.
  3. Reviewed by: James Rocchi
    Mar 16, 2012
    90
    As action, as allegory, as cinema, The Hunger Games is the best American science-fiction film since "The Matrix," and if Ross and his crew stay with the series for the next two books, we may get that rarest of things: a blockbuster franchise that earns our money through craft, emotion and execution, not merely marketing and effects.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Mar 21, 2012
    88
    My advice is to keep your eyes on Lawrence, who turns the movie into a victory by presenting a heroine propelled by principle instead of hooking up with the cutest boy.
  5. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Mar 20, 2012
    88
    A film that transforms a popular work of teen fiction not just by faithfully exploring its themes but, more important, by proving those themes have a very grown-up resonance.
  6. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Mar 20, 2012
    85
    There's action here, too, and a great deal of vitality that feels true both to the spirit of Collins' book and to the idea of movie entertainment as it exists.
  7. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Mar 20, 2012
    83
    Leaner than "Harry Potter's" adventures, meaner than the "Twilight" saga, The Hunger Games lives up to its source if not entirely the hype.
  8. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Mar 23, 2012
    80
    Katniss is gritty, she's flinty, she's intimidating -- and she doesn't have to compromise one iota of her femininity for it. And Ross' movie tells her story wonderfully.
  9. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Mar 21, 2012
    80
    Making a successful Hunger Games movie out of Suzanne Collins' novel required casting the best possible performer as Katniss, and in Jennifer Lawrence director Gary Ross and company have hit the bull's-eye, so to speak.
  10. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Mar 20, 2012
    80
    If the movie had a lead actress more delicate or malleable than the strong-cheeked Lawrence-a Natalie Portman, say-it would tip over into sexy-girl-killer celebration; the same goes for Harrelson's salty mentor, who is never too supportive or paternal. Both performers lean into the economies of survival, certain of the savagery that lies ahead, and come up with sharp work.
  11. Reviewed by: Matthew Leyland
    Mar 16, 2012
    80
    What's remarkable is the lack of cheese. Tacky effects, corny dialogue and creaky performances are all shown the door. We repeat: not the new "Twilight".
  12. Reviewed by: Xan Brooks
    Mar 16, 2012
    80
    The Hunger Games is that rarest of beasts: a Hollywood action blockbuster that is smart, taut and knotty. Ably filleted from the Suzanne Collins bestseller, it's a compelling, lightly satirical tale.
  13. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    Mar 16, 2012
    80
    As thrilling and smart as it is terrifying. There have been a number of big-gun literary series brought to screen over the past decade. This slays them all.
  14. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Mar 21, 2012
    78
    The Hunger Games is first and foremost an adventure/survival story, and director Ross keeps things moving with nary a moment of downtime. There's precious little fat on the script; it's a lean, mean antifascist machine, and Lawrence is at once winsome and spectacularly engaging as Katniss (so much so that all her male costars pale into near-blandness in comparison).
  15. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Mar 23, 2012
    75
    The Hunger Games' pacing is brisk, its stakes as high as stakes get, and its leading lady engaging enough that the odds - at the box office at least - will be ever in its favor.
  16. Reviewed by: Andy Klein
    Mar 23, 2012
    75
    Ross manages to keep the pacing remarkably swift, given that the games themselves don't start until halfway through the 144-minute running time.
  17. Reviewed by: Scott Bowles
    Mar 22, 2012
    75
    The action is brisk, the acting is solid, and barring an unlikely failure at the box office, a franchise is born. Let the games begin.
  18. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Mar 22, 2012
    75
    This is better than any of the "Twilights." It features a functioning creative imagination and lots of honest-to-goodness acting by its star, Jennifer Lawrence.
  19. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Mar 22, 2012
    75
    You can imagine a better adaptation of The Hunger Games, but you can much more easily imagine a far worse one, and all in all that's not a bad outcome.
  20. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Mar 21, 2012
    75
    When the goal is simply to be as faithful as possible to the material - as if a movie were a marriage, and a rights contract the vow - the best result is a skillful abridgment, one that hits all the important marks without losing anything egregious. And as abridgments go, they don't get much more skillful than this one.
  21. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Mar 21, 2012
    75
    What The Hunger Games does have is a game cast, a large budget well spent, Collins on board as co-writer, and Lawrence as Katniss.
  22. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Mar 20, 2012
    75
    The Hunger Games represents the best first book adaptation of any of the three series. It surpasses Christopher Columbus' "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone" by a whisker and Catherine Hardwicke's "Twilight" by considerably more than that.
  23. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Mar 20, 2012
    75
    An effective entertainment, and Jennifer Lawrence is strong and convincing in the central role. But the film leapfrogs obvious questions in its path, and avoids the opportunities sci-fi provides for social criticism.
  24. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Mar 20, 2012
    75
    The games have begun, and so far they're pretty gripping.
  25. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Mar 20, 2012
    75
    The Hunger Games is more notable for the holes it doesn't fall into than the great heights it reaches.
  26. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Mar 22, 2012
    70
    Director Gary Ross' adaptation, co-scripted by Collins herself, isn't quite as crackingly paced as the novel, but it will more than satisfy existing fans of the trilogy and likely create many new ones.
  27. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Mar 20, 2012
    70
    Like the pacing of the novel, the film, even at almost two and a half hours, moves briskly, continuously drawing us in.
  28. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Mar 20, 2012
    70
    Lawrence is a tremendous talent, and she is what makes The Hunger Games ultimately worth spending time with. She doesn't elevate the film to the heights to which one might have wanted, but she takes it a lot higher than it would have otherwise risen.
  29. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Mar 15, 2012
    70
    As she did in her breakthrough film Winter's Bone, Jennifer Lawrence anchors this futuristic and politicized elaboration of The Most Dangerous Game with impressive gravity and presence, while director Gary Ross gets enough of what matters in the book up on the screen to satisfy its legions of fans worldwide.
  30. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Mar 22, 2012
    63
    The Hunger Games is dressed as a dark satire of soulless entertainment, but like Katniss' adversaries in the PG-13 hunting scenes, it doesn't have a distinctive identity or go-for-the-throat.
  31. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Mar 22, 2012
    63
    It also smells very much like a movie with money on its mind - not altogether successfully balancing its loftier ideas with a sense of superficial whimsy and Vegas-meets-Wizard of Oz production design.
  32. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Mar 22, 2012
    63
    Where Collins' book paid careful attention to detail, Ross pays far too little. Characters never become exhausted or desperate or gaunt; they don't even get chapped lips or broken nails.
  33. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Mar 21, 2012
    63
    If the series's legions of fans miss a detail here or a sub-plot there, they'll still recognize its bones and sinew, especially in Jennifer Lawrence's eagle-eyed heroine Katniss Everdeen.
  34. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Mar 21, 2012
    63
    This futuristic tale of teenage violence is so not my kind of movie that I approached it grudgingly, so imagine my surprise when I ended up being totally exhilarated and enjoying it immensely.
  35. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Mar 21, 2012
    63
    The Hunger Games may be derivative, but it is engrossing and at times exciting. Implicitly, it argues that "The Truman Show" might have been improved by Ed Harris lobbing fireballs at Jim Carrey, and it's now clear what "American Idol" was missing all those years: a crossbow for Simon Cowell.
  36. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Mar 22, 2012
    60
    Again and again Katniss rescues herself with resourcefulness, guts and true aim, a combination that makes her insistently watchable, despite Mr. Ross's soft touch and Ms. Lawrence's bland performance.
  37. Reviewed by: Ben Sachs
    Mar 22, 2012
    60
    Director Gary Ross (Pleasantville) generally avoids the elaborate exterior shots and special effects that dominate high-concept blockbusters.
  38. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Mar 15, 2012
    60
    A watchable enough picture that feels content to realize someone else's vision rather than claim it as its own. Any real sense of risk has been carefully ironed out: The PG-13 rating that ensures the film's suitability for its target audience also blunts the impact of the teen-on-teen bloodshed.
  39. 50
    Watching The Hunger Games, I was struck both by how slickly Ross hit his marks and how many opportunities he was missing to take the film to the next level - to make it more shocking, lyrical, crazy, daring.
  40. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Mar 21, 2012
    50
    Can The Hunger Games, in the movie version directed by Gary Ross, successfully navigate the crossing from page to screen? Our answer: Eh.
  41. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Mar 20, 2012
    50
    The Hunger Games takes no risks.
  42. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Mar 20, 2012
    40
    The Hunger Games has some cool moments here and there, and is never entirely dreadful. Lawrence is both radiant and triumphant. They haven't screwed it up badly enough to kill it, although they've tried.
  43. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Mar 26, 2012
    30
    The result is an evasive, baffling, unexciting production - anything but a classic.
  44. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Mar 22, 2012
    30
    In The Hunger Games it's both a feast of cheesy spectacle and a famine of genuine feeling, except for the powerful - and touchingly vulnerable - presence of Jennifer Lawrence.
User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 1396 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 63 out of 450
  1. Mar 23, 2012
    3
    The movie left a lot to be desired and did not do the book justice. Character development in the movie was weak and if a viewer has not read the book, the characters and their relationships with each other is shallow and confusing. This confusion is clear when reading reviews by people who admit to not reading the books. In particular the relationship between Catniss and her family needs to be expanded upon and built upon so we can understand the relationship between Rue and Catniss and the tragedy of the circumstances they are put into. The relationship between Peeta and Catniss is also confusing and shallow, sanitizing the internal conflict felt by them. And finally we get to Haymitch, who is a shadow of the character he was in the book. Full Review »
  2. Mar 23, 2012
    10
    To me the Hunger Games was sort of like Lord of the Flies meets Mad Max. Has anyone read Lord of the Flies or seen Mad Max with Mel Gibson? There was also a Japanese movie called Battle Royale that came out a few years ago but was never released in the US. Full Review »
  3. Mar 23, 2012
    3
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Having read the books numerous times, the movie is lacking is so many ways. Scenes were redacted which I understand you have to keep the film lengthen under consideration but do not add scenes that have no mention or relevance into the movie. Also, the time lines are important in this film. You are building up to something. When you leave so much out how do you have that reference for later films. You do not get to connect with Katniss and Peeta in the film like you do in the books. I blame the SIGNIFICANT shortening of the cave scenes. The whole last 30 minutes of the film was horrible. Adding the extra fighting in the last scene did not add any value but took away from the film. Had the last Cornucopia scene been left as originally written, it would have made for a much more dramatic conclusion and wrap of the film. Full Review »