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'The Hunger Games' doesn't disappoint

Awesome! Epic! Thrilling! That’s how the mostly teen, mostly female audience described “The Hunger Games” after the film’s midnight premiere Thursday. Yes, I’m 35 years old and yes, I gleefully cheered on Katniss Everdeen in her screen debut at Carmike’s Ritz 13.

If you slept through the film’s midnight premiere, don’t worry, it’s screening about 1.2 million times this weekend at Carmike 15 and Ritz 13. Today from 1-6 p.m. the Ritz hosts its Stop Hunger Games event to collect donations for Feed the Valley. Donate five items and receive a free frozen drink at Lt.’s Diner. Donate money to the United Way and you’re entered in a Reaping Raffle. Cornucopia races as well as bean bag toss and bow and arrow games are planned.

There’s something special about seeing a film at the witching hour. The crowd shares an excited energy, likely thanks to vast amounts of candy and soda combined with that sense of freedom that comes with an extended curfew. While I hate getting up for work the day after a midnight screening, I’ve never regretted attending a premiere of a “Twilight,” or “Harry Potter” film. Apparently neither has my husband. He joined me and a few friends for the screening. He either has a huge crush on Jennifer Lawrence or wanted to earn some brownie points. (I’ll keep you posted!) I read “The Hunger Games” trilogy in December — pretty much in one weekend, the books are stay-up-until-dawn compelling — and the movie complemented the first book quite nicely.

Some topics and characters were eliminated in the film version, mostly, I suspect so the movie’s runtime was less than six hours. There’s no mention of Madge, the mayor’s daughter, who in the book gives Katniss the Mockingjay pin that later becomes a symbol of the rebellion. Viewers don’t get a good feel for Peeta Mellark’s family life or, frankly, what life is like for those in District 12. This makes the transition to the Capitol less powerful. The time Katniss and Peeta spend on the train en route to the Capitol is diminished into near nonexistence and the tributes’ preparation time before they enter the arena goes by too quickly. Most troubling was the movie’s vague distinctions between the classes of this futuristic society and the too-brief explanation of the Dark Days.

Once the game begins, though, the movie doesn’t disappoint. The addition of watching the game makers create obstacles for the tributes is excellent.

The movie’s violence seems less brutal than the book’s. And although the arrival of mutts caused the audience to jump, these mutant creatures were less scary than the book’s version. Overall, the movie is less frightening than the book but make no mistake, parents, kids kill kids in both versions.

My husband said the film reminded him of the 1982 flick “Blade Runner.” I can’t comment because I’ve never seen it, a problem I’m certain the husband will solve this weekend, courtesy of Netflix.

Dawn Minty is at