Director: Gary Ross (2012)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson
Find it: IMDB
Well, if I am going to watch a kids' film, it had better have half of the children in it violently murdering one another. Unlike pretty much everyone else in existence, I would like to conduct this review without comparing The Hunger Games to either Twilight or Battle Royale. The former proves easy, since The Hunger Games is cock all like Twilight. The only similarities I can see is a hefty female fanbase (although men can enjoy The Hunger Games too), silly character names and a female lead. Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) shits all over Bella Swan though, with her competence and personality.
Not comparing it to Battle Royale proves difficult though, since I am a lazy reviewer and it is a bit like Battle Royale. In a dystopian future, the working class are split up into 12 Districts. As a punishment for an earlier uprising, the ruling government forces each of those districts to give up two of their children for participation in the annual 'Hunger Games'. The Hunger Games pit 24 children against one another in a battle to the death. There can only be one survivor. When her cute wee sister is picked out for the year's Games, gutsy Katniss Everdeen has no choice but to offer herself up instead. She and fellow tribute Peeta (Hutcherson) are whisked away from their district and trained for the fight of their lives.
Like the book, it takes an age to get to the actual fighting. It spends as long getting Katniss and Peeta ready for the Games as it does for Bruce Willis to get to the asteroid in Armageddon. It feels like a series of Metal Gear Solid cut-scenes in this respect. "Yes, it's very pretty but STFU up and let me kill something, will you." And then, when the action does get underway, it's shot and edited in a manner that makes it impossible to see anything. Most of the participants die, offscreen, with little explanation. I wasn't expecting to see gore or explicit violence, but I hoped to see something. Well, maybe not that bit with the stupid dogs.
My favourite hunger game.
My impatience and bloodthirst aside, The Hunger Games is a very enjoyable piece of kiddies' cinema. Woody Harrelson is typically excellent as the drunken Haymitch (although I would have liked to have seen them keep the scene from the book where he collpases in a pool of his own vomit), as are the ever reliable Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks. Donald Sutherland phones it in a bit, whilst - shit, is that Lenny Kravitz? Jennifer Lawrence is good in the leading role. It's a shame that the film has her screwing up and being rescued all the time, as it would have been far more entertaining to see her go all Rambo with that bow and arrow. If the film does have a Damsel In Distress, it comes in the form of Josh Hutcherson and his wimpy Peeta. I suppose there's another Twilight similarity there; neither of the potential love interests seem remotely desirable. It looks great though, particularly the shiny, shiny scenes in the Capitol and those with Stanley Tucci and his blue hair. It's funny too, and even touching at times. Wooden as some of the young actors might be, none of them are actively irritating.
That braggarty tagline has come good, it seems. The world is indeed watching. Even me, and I normally hate this sort of thing. Watch The Hunger Games: yes, it has kids in it, but most of them die.