In the last 10 years, teen fiction has become one of the most profitable areas for writers to make a killing (sorry). Now unless you have been living in a cardboard box you can’t have missed the hype surrounding this much-anticipated film.
It’s the adaptation of the first book of a trilogy about teenager Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer (Winter’s Bone) Lawrence, who volunteers to enter The Hunger Games when her younger sister is picked out in a lottery: and it’s a real treat.
The film’s back story is that some future catastrophe (possibly nuclear, or maybe a civil war) has left the USA (renamed Panem) divided into 12 districts ruled with an iron fist by President Coriolanus (Donald Sutherland) Snow.
Every year to pay penance for the civil war each district must pay tribute and put forward by lottery two teenagers to battle to the death in The Hunger Games. The one winner receives the respect of their district and not much else it seems in the film and that’s pretty much it for plot really.
The film is a movie mash-up of Battle Royale and Arnie’s Running Man but with less on-screen violence and no real sense of humor present.
It’s not as steeped in teenage hormones as any of the Twilight movies (notice I said movies as they can hardly be called films!) and because of this and the astounding central performance from Lawrence is accessible to those of us aged 18 and well over and makes for a hugely enjoyable last 90 minutes.
A shame then that as it’s the first of a trilogy with the release date already inked in for film 2 it takes nearly an hour of back story and set up to actually get the teenage moppets into the killing arena but at least then things are exciting well-paced and enjoyable.
But if you have read the books already then this time will pass by in a flash and you will certainly have a more enhanced and enjoyable viewing of the film.
The set design and costumes are spectacular but may make viewers unfamiliar with the books laugh out loud with Stanley Tucci (the games TV loudmouth presenter) sporting a shocking blue wig and buck teeth and Katniss’ games PR agent Effie Trinket played by Elizabeth Banks dressed constantly in purple with a painted white face and looking like Madame Guillotine. The book readers will know that this is all done to highlight the decadence of the ruling elite living in the exuberant Capitol city and to also hint that this really is a massive social satire and not just tweeny fiction.
Overall in its second, third and final act, this is a massively fun piece of hokum that has enough inventive (off-screen) deaths and is worth the admission price alone to see Lawrence continue to grow as possible the next Jodie Foster of her generation.
For those again who have read the trilogy then they know that the next film is much darker, more intelligent and hints and even more sinister and evil things to come.
This is an essential purchase DVD with astounding extras from a feature-length making of the film, another three behind the scenes documentaries, picture and trailer galleries and much more.
The only rip off here is the Blu-ray film is slightly longer and has an ‘exclusive’ extra hosted by director Gary Ross. All the same, the film is much better seen at home and is something worth returning to even if you have read the books!