Dir. Gary Ross
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
“May the odds be ever in your favour…”
Step this way for The Hunger Games – an impressive sci-fi kill-em-up - where kids in the near future are forced to slaughter each other in a sadistic official death match / tournament.
Sure it might sound like a new Coalition Government youth control policy but The Hunger Games is the film adaptation of the much-loved bestselling novel by Suzanne Collins.
"Katniss Everdeen - prepares to kick some ass"
For those who haven’t read the books (both of you out there) The Hunger Games, takes place in nation of ‘Panem’ – formally known as the USA. It seems that some years before the events of the film, the thirteen poverty-stricken districts of Panem rebelled against the wealthy, controlling Capitol.
The rebellion didn’t go well, and as a punishment, the districts are forced to play The Hunger Games. Each year one boy and one girl (aged 12–18) from each district must battle to the death in a televised arena until only one is left alive.
We join the games in their 74th year as sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer ‘Winter’s Bone’ Lawrence) puts herself forward to be the female District 12 fighter in place of her younger sister Primrose – known as "Prim" (Willow Shields), whose name comes up in the draw.
"Baddies practice their mean 'we're going to kill you' scowls"
Also flying the flag for District 12 is Peeta Mellark (Josh ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ Hutcherson), he’s got a soft spot for Katniss and once threw her some bread when she was starving…
So the scene is set for a Battle Royale-esq kids on kids smack down – the kiddies are trained in survival skills and weapon usage, then spruced up by stylists such as Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) who is assigned to Katniss.
Also on hand is the District 12 Capitol escort Effie Trinket (the lovely Elizabeth Banks) – her job is to help her charges make a good impression with potential sponsors (who may then send in support packages to the kids in the arena).
The Hunger Games certainly looks great – director Ross captures the futuristic look and feel effectively with some decent special effects. The plot plays out as you might expect with some Lord of the Flies-lite tribal alliances made by the battling kids and much just off camera violence.
"I am Susan, Queen of Narnia... Oh wait"
Overall The Hunger Games delivers it’s nicely twisted tale with enough emotion, style and action to please fans of the book and newcomers alike. Lawrence is excellent in the lead role too.
In trying to keep the young reader friendly 12a certificate, the level of horror and violence is necessarily muted which prevents it being nasty enough to really shock. But as the start of a projected trilogy The Hunger Games is leagues ahead of the toothless Twilight etc.
The odds are in the favour of The Hunger Games (it has set new opening weekend box office records in the U.S.).
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:
4 – Quality near future semi-violent voyeurism
Awesomeness ööö – when it works it works really well
Laughs öö – not a bag of chuckles
Horror öö – kids die but not graphically
Babes öööö – Lawrence is going kinda hot
Spiritual Enlightenment öö – Fight for your life
"Lawrence slips into something less blood splattered"