The Hunger Games (2012 – Cinema)

“You’re our mentor, don’t you have any advice?… Yes, embrace the probability of your imminent death”

To use a bad pun, ‘The Hunger Games’ left me hungry for more, more from the film in general but also it intrigued me enough that I want another helping from an inevitable sequel.  For financial reasons the filmmakers wanted the movie to be available to the same age bracket as the Young-Lit book it’s based on so they’ve trimmed the more violent aspects of the story to get a 12A rating. Considering the story is set in a post-apocalyptic nightmare future where impoverished children are forced to fight to-the-death for the amusement of a rich and powerful fascistic elite… it looks like they had to trim quite a bit!

‘The Hunger Games’ feels like it’s reaching for the same gritty and cynical 70s Sci-Fi ground as films like ‘Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes’, ‘THX 1138’, ‘Soylent Green’ or ‘Death Race 2000’.  But it never quite digs deep enough into the politics or cranks up the dehumanizing violence to earn that accolade.  Also similarities to the vastly superior and stomach churningly violent film ‘Battle Royale’ are unfortunate.  I remember exiting a screening of that film in Newcastle in 2000 to see that my friend’s face had gone white and he was of the opinion that a film that disturbing “Should never have been made”. I don’t somehow think anybody will be as profoundly affected by ‘The Hunger Games’.

The costumes and hair does are wonderfully colourful and outlandish bringing to mind the awesome job Jean-Paul Gaultier did for Luc Besson’s visionary Sci-Fi masterpiece ‘The Fifth Element’ Jennifer Lawrence’s truculent performance as Katniss is superb but I thought casting a girl in her twenties as a teenager robbed the film of some of the emotional power and tension.  Lenny Kravitz is a walking charisma vacuum as one of Katniss’ mentors but Woody Harrelson steals the whole show as her other mentor, alcoholic former Hunger Games winner, Haymitch.  Despite its many flaws, I’m actually excited about going back to this world (In the next film) if only to see if the filmmakers can do more than scratch the surface of this potentially deeply thought provoking world.

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