THE HUNGER GAMES opened nationwide this weekend after one of the biggest marketing campaigns in movie history. I really don't like all that hype, but I do like the film.

THE HUNGER GAMES is an exciting, thought provoking adventure and a gripping, suspenseful, well acted drama.
 It also pushes America's obsession with reality television shows to its logical extreme.

The only thing I didn't like was the herky jerky hand held camera work.

As many millions of people already know, the movie and the best selling novel are set in a not-too-distant future. North America has become Panem, a country of 12 districts ruled by villainous masters in a capitol city.

Each year two teenagers from each district must be chosen by lottery to enter the Hunger Games, a harrowing battle for survival that leaves only one of them alive.
Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone")is terrific as Katniss Everdeen, the heroine whose sister's name is drawn. As her terrified sister screams, Katniss steps forward and volunteers to take her place.

It's a high stakes situation, to say the least, that will be broadcast nationwide; that's right; the Hunger Games are a TV show whose  producers will do anything to make their ultimate fight game more exciting.

The competitors are given some training in hand-to-hand combat and are encouraged to get sponsors who can help them during the broadcast. But the potential sponsors are decadent aristocrats who ignore Katniss until she forces them to pay attention by shooting an arrow through their midst and right into a tomato that rests in the mouth of their cooked pig.

The contestants have huge inner conflicts. How do you handle caring about someone knowing that later you may have to kill that person? She talks to the earnest Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), the other representative from her district, who speaks of retaining his individuality in the face of imminent death, but she can't think about anything except how to survive.

THE HUNGER GAMES is full of exciting surprises and moral dilemmas with a heroine who, against all odds, maintains her humanity.

For me, THE HUNGER GAMES is a rarity: a blockbuster that's actually worth seeing.