Action Movies, by Mike Richardson, 11 May 2012

Director: Gary Ross

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth

Country: USA

Runtime:

Release Date:

Language: English

Our Ratings: 7/10

After the end of Harry Potter and the death knell being sounded for the Twilight saga Hollywood suddenly found itself without an annual blockbuster for the tween market, thankfully The Hunger Games stepped into the ring ready to do battle, to appease the popcorn hungry masses.
Let’s get ready to rumble….!

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

And Gary Ross’s film, adapted from Suzanne Collins’s teen novel, is pretty good.
The Hunger Games is set in a futuristic dystopia where the people of 12 downtrodden “Districts” – industrial and impoverished areas –annually donate up a girl and boy each to take part in a national televised, sports-entertainment tournament called “The Hunger Games.”

The games are a cross between American Idol, Big Brother, the Roman gladiators, and a good old-fashioned fight to the death. In this dystopian future the 24 kids must fight to the death, or succumb to the elements, in the forest arena until only one winner remains. In that respect the hunger games are very similar to The Running Man, Battle Royale and Series 7: the Contenders.

Each of those films delivers a telling finishing move to this version of sci-fi gladiatorial games, the Running Man is more entertaining, Battle Royale is considerably darker and Series 7 is considerably more amusing. However The Hunger Games is a great popcorn movie. It delivers across-the-board thrills, spills, young love, and a tiny hint of a message in there somewhere as well.

My biggest complaint with the film was that it never actually got its hands dirty, much like the main protagonist. It never addressed the issue would she actually kill a sweet little 10-year-old girl to win the competition (and save her own life), but that complaint aside I thoroughly enjoyed the film.
Oh, and apart from the moments when the cameraman seemed to get the shakes and jostled the camera around like Kelis’ milkshake. I’ve been told this was done in the scenes of death and destruction to ensure a tween friendly rating from the BBFC but as a grown-up who isn’t freaked out by the occasional splash of claret it was just annoying.

There is much to recommend in the hunger games, not least the cast who are either fresh faces, looking realistic and untarnished by Hollywood or old hands like Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks who revel in the opportunity to latch on to a fat franchise and have a bit of fun with their way over the top and flamboyant characters.

The grand old man of American cinema, Donald Sutherland even turned up as the main bad guy president/emperor overseeing the world that is kept in check with the hunger games and while it’s always nice to see Sergeant “Oddball” on the screen the script didn’t make him a sufficiently merciless villain which left the film sadly lacking a sense of good guys / bad guy antagonism.
However, unlike the Golden Compass / His Dark Materials “series” which spluttered and died at its first outing The Hunger Games left this reviewer wanting more.
Roll on the next bout.

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