It's not every week I'd let two of my kids stay up til 3 a.m. to go to a midnight movie on a school night - but the fact we were at Caldwell Cinema Thursday late instead of sleeping, is a testament to how much we love Suzanne Collins' series, "The Hunger Games."
And, if the packed theater was any indication, the rest of America does too.
The movie was filled with fans - some who'd read all three books in the series, some who had only gotten through the first one. There was also one teenaged girl, was hurriedly finishing the pages of the first book, minutes before the lights went out.
For book fans, the movie didn't disappoint.
The depiction of Panem was just as bleak as described in Collins' trilogy. Prim and Rue were sweet and innocent, and the games horrific and deadly. But the real reason to see the movie is the outstanding acting of Jennifer Lawrence, who steals the show with her cornflower blue eyes and stoic demeanor.
Lawrence is absolutely convincing in her portrayal of the determined Katniss Everdeen. She makes her character both understated and intense. A good supporting cast includes Donald Sutherland as President Snow and Woody Harrelson has Haymitch. Stanley Tucci is engaging as Caesar Flickerman and Lenny Kravitz is intensely likeable as Cinna.
The violence in the story is there, but isn't overly graphic. My 12-year-old son was in the audience and I covered my eyes more than he did during some of the scenes. The violence doesn't overshadow the bigger storyline of the test of friendship, loyalty, and unfairness of this fractured fictional world.
One viewer said she thought the movie was good, but didn't have the depth of the books, and, I would agree, that some of the details were glossed over. But overall, the movie depicted the book fairly and accurately, with the ending leaving the audience hungry for the next chapter.
If you haven't yet read the series, it's well worth it. Collins has a few tricks up her sleeve in the next two books and you'll want to be ready for them before the next movie comes out.