The Hunger Games
As I type this, The Hunger Games is gearing up to oust Twilight as the go-to franchise for tweens; but this series actually has a far broader appeal. There's also more of an air of credibility here - mostly due to the much edgier plot (and Jennifer Lawrence). Still, this highly anticipated adaptation is far from perfect and suffers from a slow start and somewhat rushed ending.
Lawrence is tough, resourceful teen Katniss, who lives in a strange, futuristic North America that has been split up into twelve districts and a Capital City. After an attempted rebellion years before, the powers-that-be have punished the districts by hosting an annual 'Hunger Games' event. This involves a boy and a girl from each region taking part in a fight to the death with twenty-two other contestants - with only one victor emerging at the end. Katniss isn't selected by the 'lottery' that decides contestants - but her younger sister is. In order to to save her life, she volunteers to take her place, with Hutcherson's insular Peeta also picked to take part in the vicious event.
Having never read the books that The Hunger Games is based upon, it meant that I wasn’t expectantly waiting for much-loved characters to emerge, or comparing the transmission of plot from page to screen. It's a tricky business adapting popular novels, but Ross paints it just broad enough not to piss off core fans or confuse newcomers. The futuristic setting is also extremely ostentatious, and one the director apparently didn't really have to budget to do justice. Instead, there is a lot of jarring handheld camerawork and close-ups to muffle the perhaps not quite fully-realised world. Pacing is also an issue with any dense adaptation, too, and that issue is no different here; the film starts off very slowly, picks up in the middle and ends with more of a nonchalant shrug than an explosive thud.
All of that said, there is plenty here that does impress. Lawrence is a superb lead, showcasing the same simultaneous inner strength and vulnerability that saw her nominated for an Oscar for Winter's Bone: she looks every inch the modern movie star. When Katniss is in survival mode the film comes into its own, and the battle of wills that ensues makes for anxious watching. It also pushes the boundaries of its rating, although the lack of on-screen blood and gore doesn't harm the overall intensity. Ross has also cast wisely across the board: the likes of uber-respected Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrleson and Elizabeth Banks all put in memorable turns. As for the male totty, Hutcherson is suitably overwrought, while Hemsworth has sweet F.A. to do until the sequels.
Flawed but still entertaining, fans will be delighted by the first Hunger Games, while the (quite probably doubled) bigger budget of the sequels should help the series find the scale it desperately craves.
Story by entertainment.ie | 13:58 | Thursday 6th September 2012 | DVD review
Watched it recently....loved it. Have read the books which I thought were quite derivative but still enjoyable but the movie for me was very enjoyable.Posted 16:57 | Thu 13th Sep 2012
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