With the "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" franchises having run their respective courses, Suzanne Collins' dystopian "The Hunger Games" trilogy (planned as four films by distributor Lionsgate solely to double their profits on the final chapter, "Mockingjay," a 'la 2010's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1," 2011's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," 2011's "Breaking Dawn Part 1" and 2012's "Breaking Dawn Part 2") has become the latest cinematic sensation within devoted YA circles. The politically charged source material is altogether stronger than Stephenie Meyer's anti-feminist Harlequin vampire tale, but, so far, 2012's "The Hunger Games" and follow-up "Catching Fire" have not quite done full justice to the novels they are based upon. Performances are inspiring and impassioned and the narrative setups are suitably provocative, but the pictures' action-oriented second halves have left more than a little to be desired. Functional but problematically shot, both films have ultimately not been able to live up to the breadth of emotion or vision one expects from them.
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