Unless you’ve been competing in some sort of fight-to-the-death contest, you’ll be well aware of Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games. The biggest film of the year so far, it’s questionable whether such successes are worthy testament to the film itself or a by-product of the tweenie fandom for the lauded trilogy of novels from which it is adapted.
Although it may be beguiling, the plot of The Hunger Games is relatively simplistic. Set in a singular dystopian realm, twenty four children are chosen at random by the ruling capital to battle to the death live on television, with the last man or woman standing becoming a worldwide celebrity and beacon of hope.
Desperate for the 12A certification in the UK, the brutality and viciousness of the novel is underplayed in the film, meaning that the games themselves are more character explorations rather than fast-paced action. This also means that the love story, which is introduced half way into the film, feels like an overwrought and contrived plot continuum; sentimentalising the sadistic games and in the process humanising the cold nature of the story.
If there’s one element of The Hunger Games that is deserving of acclaim is Jennifer Lawrence’s striking take on heroine Katniss. Already developing a strong screen presence in the exceptional drama Winter’s Bone, the young actress grabs the character’s ruthless independence with both hands, yet still with an admirable poise. You better get used to seeing her beautiful face, it’ll be gracing multiplex screens for many years to come.
Regardless of it being a tad too long and the ending relying too heavily on the next instalment of the story, The Hunger Games is a remarkable, unconventional blockbuster. The film is likely to be a Hollywood game changer too. Proving that teenage audiences aren’t as infantile as their pimpled complexions imply and film financiers need not rely on formulaic tales of vampires to get them to fork over their pocket money.