<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Gary Ross. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Wes Bentley, Donald Sutherland.
It’s based on a book and they’ve been comparing it to Twilight (shudder!), since it’s meant for ‘young adults’. I found it interesting in parts but mostly disappointing considering the apparent marketing build-up.
Suzanne Collins wrote a trilogy of books called The Hunger Games. She drew from personal feelings about the Iraq war, the Vietnam war and even Greek and Roman history. There’s Marxism where you have an elite class of people oppressing a downtrodden section of society, which inevitably rebels. It’s set in the future in a place called Panem where a section of their population rose up to revolt but were soon quashed and put under control of the Capitol city. And every year, two youngsters (a boy and a girl) from each of the 12 Districts are selected by ballot to enter a gladiator-type contest to the death where there can only be one Victor. All this in an effort to show the Districts who is boss and punish them for their arrogant betrayal.
From District 12 young girl Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers in place of her ‘selected’ younger sister to take part. She’s feisty and knows how to hunt with a bow and arrow so you pretty much realise she’s got a fighting chance. The boy, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) has a crush on her (she already has a boyfriend played by hottie Gale (Liam Hemsworth) but you know how chick flicks love a love triangle!
The ‘multi-coloured people’ as I like to call them from the Capitol whisk them away on a futuristic train (works on magnets so really don’t see how futuristic that is considering they have Maglevs in Japan). The ‘tributes’ are paraded out before the Games master Seneca (Wes Bentley with a strangely crafted beard), the President (Donald Sutherland) and pageant-style host Caeser (Stanley Tucci) and thousands of Capitol citizens who cheer and jeer in anticipation. Let the games begin but not until some training is gotten, sponsors acquired and enmities are established. Woody Harrelson as past winner Haymitch and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) are the mentors for Katniss and Peeta. Let the games begin…
The problem with The Hunger Games is that you know exactly how this is all going to pan out. You know who will win, you know who the bad guys are, you wonder what’s the point of all this. I mean in the film, the games are supposed to entertain the bourgeois multi-coloured people but there’s barely one scene where they’re shown watching the actual violent encounters between the kids battling it out in an artificial forest (complete with cameras in trees ala The Truman Show). Yes the districts get all fired up at ‘the girl on fire’ Katniss’s bravery and revolt. Maybe this is just the build-up movie to the inevitable sequel but I wasn’t impressed.
The violence is bland, the fighting scenes dull, the romance is ridiculous and the end so predictable you ask whether the book too was starved of any unique ideas.
Jennifer Lawrence is a bright young actress (nominated for an Oscar for Winter’s Bone 2010) and does her best. The other actors, their character’s motivations and dialogue are simply hackneyed. I’m sorry but I got more thrills out of the Twilight series and that does not say much for The Hunger Games.