Monday, 10 September 2012

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future world, a world divided into twelve districts; each of the districts provides resources for the main capital, where the rich and powerful reside. In each of the twelve districts, once over the age of twelve a boy and girl must end by means of a “lottery” the Hunger Games. The game is a battle to the death in which only one person can survive to become victor, and a celebrity in their own right. When twelve-year-old PrimroseEverdeen is selected to play, her older sister Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) understanding her sister’s weakness stands in her place as a tribute, placing herself in mortal danger. But Katniss is not like other people, she is hostile when needed, but of the belief that the games could be changed, is she the person to make this happen?

If you are of a certain age (cough) you’ll be slightly familiar with the synopsis of Hunger Games, it bears a striking resemblance to the movies Turkey Shoot AKA Blood Camp Thatcher, and Battle Royale, the delivery is incredibly similar, but this time without the graphic bloodshed, this is of course a movie aimed squarely at a teenage audience. Add a more up to date spin, in which this classic fight for your life movie blends seamlessly into the modern day world of X-Factor, making the battle for survival not just a survival of the fittest, but of the most popular.

Visually the movie is in a whole different time, it looks like the movie could hark back to the 80’s, with its bizarre fashion and lurid colours. In the outpost districts the people sport clothing of America’s great depression, while in the city, it’s a mixture of what would happen if Vivien Westwood and Jean Paul Gautier joined forces. The peacekeeper’s (police) outfits are a hybrid of the police uniform from Soylent Green, and A Clockwork Orange’s Droog’s.

I’m told that the movie is a pretty much faithful adaptation of the novel by Suzanne Collins; but you cannot help but wonder what is missing, there are points where the emotion is essentially sucked from the movie, especially when a young contender falls and you are meant to feel something, the character development of this victim simply is not developed enough to create the feeling the movies creators want you to have.

While the flaws in the movie are clear, I cannot help but hold my hands up and declare this a winner of a movie. It’s a sprawling tale told over 142 minutes, but which feels like it passes in a blink of an eye. It’s a gripping, fast moving tale (sometimes too fast), which mixes emotion, humour, action, and epic storytelling. The performers from Jennifer Lawrence, through to an almost unrecognisable Elizabeth Banks, and a lovable Woody Harrelson as an alcoholic former games winner, are spot on; and let me not forget Stanley Tucci who literally steals the show as Caesar Flickerman a kind of Simon Cowell of the future.

On the whole this is a well-rounded peace, that is really only spoiled by the shaky camerawork when in Katniss’ district, and during action sequences, not aided by a large screen and high definition photography, at times it is just too much for you’re eyes. Thankfully these sequences are often brief, and pass by in a few seconds. And despite the shakiness clearly designed to make an economic point, it’s the recurring complaint from most people who have seen the movie.

One thing is for certain, The Hunger Games is going to be a massive movie, that will not only ensure fame for it’s stars, but moving its producers Lionsgate into the territory of the big players like Universal, and Twentieth Century Fox. The overlying feeling of evil that covers the whole movie is bound to keep the fans coming back, for both repeat screenings, and for pretty much guaranteed future sequels.

The Hunger Games is out on DVD now. 

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