The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games has been the film of 2012, as much for the controversy surrounding it as its box office success. As teen movies go this is perhaps the most challenging and thought provoking.
The film is based on a Suzanne Collins novel of the same name. It takes place in a dystopian future, in a nation that consists of one wealthy capital surrounded by twelve poorer districts. Each year a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are picked to take part in the hunger games, a televised fight to the death were only one participant can survive.
The action follows 16 year old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), who volunteers for the games to spare her younger sister. She is joined from her district by Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), a baker’s son. They both come under the tutelage of Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), a former winner of the games, who has developed a drink problem.
The film is rated a 12A in theUK, meaning anyone under 12 can watch it, if accompanied by an adult. The themes of the film are dark, over the two and half hour duration there is no comic relief. There is however 22 under 18s being stabbed, shot, stung or mauled to death, while a wealthy population of the capital watch with detached amusement. It’s hard to think who decided this was suitable for under 12’s.
Suzanne Collins wrote the book as a commentary on reality TV shows, and how they manipulate people for the holy grail- big ratings. The strength of such a commentary is based on the main character, Katniss, who almost is alone in the realisation that the games are morally wrong and should be challenged.
Jennifer Lawrence, is the undoubted star of the show. She is a true silver screen heroine, in the style of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in Alien. Wisdom, strength and courage beyond her years make her character important and memorable. Not many actresses could so easily or convincingly balance the physical demands of being a rough, ready and ruthless warrior with the beautiful and tender scene when Katniss holds and sings to a dying comrade.
Josh Hutchinson as Peeta is fine in a performance that could have been delivered by any blue eyed, blonde haired, fit, young male. The character of Peeta is eager and likable, indeed he is also important. But he seems to reach the climax of the games by luck, and the potential romance between him and Katniss doesn’t seem believable.
Jennifer Lawrence and the effortlessly cool Woody Harrelson deliver fine central performances that make the long running time seem worthwhile. It’s smart, serious and genuinely exciting. Its themes and overall production are closer to Twilight than Harry Potter. However, in reality it is vastly superior than both those franchises.
See The Hunger Games Trailer here.
Review by Aidan McKay