(Rating: 12, 142 mins) Written by Zen Terrelonge
Starring – Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Willow Shields, Woody Harrelson.
The film’s tagline is “May the odds be ever in your favour.”
I’d certainly hope they were if I had 23 people after my blood, which unfortunately is the case for our heroine, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence).
In the near future, America has fallen victim to famine, drought and war, which resulted in the country being rebuilt under a new name, Panem.
The land is divided into 12 districts and the Capitol, a tyrannical city that devised The Hunger Games to remind Panem that their word really is law. The brutal tournament requires 24 teenagers – a boy and a girl from each district – to fight to the death, so that one may be crowned the champion.
Doesn’t make the recession look so bad after all, does it?
The delusional people of Capitol absolutely live for the games, but the city is a complete and utter colourful bubble of joy and delight, which is the total opposite of the dank and grey poverty-stricken districts.
Katniss lives in District 12, the poorest of them all. Each day, the only things that keep her going are best friend and hunting partner, Gale (Hemsworth), who she often escapes to the sanctuary of the forest with, as well as her innocent 12-year-old sister Prim (Shields).
At the ‘reaping’ – selection process – young Prim is chosen to compete.It’s a scene that’s incredibly unnerving as the citizens simply watch on, considering it ‘the norm’ to send children to their death. This leads Katniss to volunteer in her stead, while baker’s son Peeta (Hutcherson) becomesthe male tribute.
This is perhaps the most poignant and believable part of the film as Lawrence showcases the motherly, fatherly and sisterly love she has for her sister as she is clearly mortified, though forced to steel herself for what is to come, while Shields’ screams are chilling as she is carted away by Gale.
Harellson takes on the mantle of Haymith, the booze-loving former District 12 champion and survival coach of Katniss and Peeta, who is more interested in discovering the bottom of wine bottles than assisting his new trainees.
The Capitol is unlike anything the tributes have ever seen and although they’re being herded to their deaths, they can’t help but eat like royalty instead of living off of roots and berries they’re accustomed to, while marveling at the world they’ve been welcomed into, which is what makes the experience even more torturous and bittersweet for them.
The games are treated like the Olympics or an awards ceremony. Capitol residents fall over themselves to see the tributes arrive at the city, before they are styled, interviewed and polished in the same way that an athlete or celebrity would be in order to win over the adoring public and secure sponsors.
The build-up was too drawn out and slow without ever actually getting into the psyche of the characters, which is why the audience – presumably those that haven’t read the book the film’s based on – seemed to become restless and misunderstanding of Katniss’ reluctance to kill in the arena.
Let’s face it, the game itself is really the reason that people want to watch the film, and it didn’t do justice to the intensity that the book created thanks to a string of sugar-coated deaths, which was likely to secure a 12A rating for optimum profit.
What’s more, the appearances of the bloodthirsty ‘career’ tributes weren’t imposing or frightening like they were meant to be, instead it seemed that a group of cocky kids were playing a game of Robin Hood in the forest.
The film has broken records and already grossed almost $500 million at the box office and I can’t help but feel that’s down to a strong fan base and an amazing marketing campaign.
The trailer is still captivating despite knowing what happens, which is what brought the series to my attention in the first place.
The book is certainly a good read, but The Hunger Games film doesn’t meet the hype and won’t satisfy your appetite.
The Hunger Games is available on Blu-ray and DVD now.