As someone who has never read the books I went to see The Hunger Games not really knowing what to expect. From the description of a futuristic tournament where people battle to the death I couldn’t help but picture Running Man. Then with it being based on a series of books with a strong young female lead I was put in mind of The Golden Compass (based on Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy). Then I tried to imagine a cross between Running Man and The Golden Compass… that kind of grabbed hold of my imagination and I sat and watched that whole movie in my own head. It was a triumph, I laughed, I cried and Arnie won best actor.
Unfortunately The Hunger Games turned out to be nothing like The Running Compass, but it was still pretty good. The story transports us to a future version of North America which is divided up into 12 districts, with one rich and powerful district (Capitol) subjugating the others. 75 years previous the other districts had staged a failed rebellion against Capitol. After the rebellion Capitol decreed that there would be a tournament each year in which a teenage boy and girl from each district would be collectively put into an arena where they would fight to the death. A cruel and unusual punishment if ever I’ve heard one.
Enter Catnip, sorry Katniss Everdean (Jennifer Lawrence) from the exceedingly poor District 12. She has to take part in the tournament and fight for her life while being mooned over by the boy from her district, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).
Thankfully the movie gives us a rather long and interesting build-up to the actual tournament. We get a good look at the massive inequality and imbalance of power that defines the relationship between Capitol and District 12. We are also given plenty of time to develop a healthy disdain for the shallow, vain and gaudy denizens of Capitol. When the tournament finally kicks in it is in equal measures bloodthirsty and touching, as well as infuriating and inspiring.
Now while the movie is pretty good it does have some notable flaws, chiefly the way many of the more intense scenes are shot. There is a lot of shaky cam work that makes it difficult to follow the action scenes. I suspect this is a strategy intended to make the more violent scenes less harrowing, allowing the film to get a lower age rating. However, it is really annoying, if you’re sitting nearer the front your eyes will be pinging about all over the place trying to get a handle on what’s actually going on. It also has the effect of making you feel a little disconnected from some of the movie’s most intense scenes.
All in all, I did enjoy and would recommend The Hunger Games, but if the producers had the guts to go for a 15 rating the movie could have had much more emotional impact and been an excellent and powerful piece of cinema.
What did you think of the movie? Let us know in the comments box below.