Just last week, every single movie in US box offices was considered rotten by the conclave of aficionados gathered through www.rottentomatoes.com But, as the Brits say: the worm has turned. The Hunger Games has saved the day.
In Hunger Games, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, we follow the fortunes of 16 year old Katniss, living in a distopian future USA: Panem. Every year the ruling class, that live in the Capitol, demand a girl and boy tribute form each of 12 outlying districts. These tributes are selected by lot, and must then fight to the death in an arena: the Hunger Games. There can by only one victor.
The aim of the Hunger Games is twofold: to amuse the inhabitants of Capitol and to remind the populace of the districts who’s in charge.
Katniss volunteers to go to the Hunger Games when her little sister is picked, and she is joined by baker’s son Peeta Mellark, who it turns out, has a crush on her. In an interesting twist, Katniss is in no way a weakling or underdog to win the Games, from the outset we know she is a skilled hunter.
The movie is split evenly into two parts, the lead up to the actual games and then the battle royale in the arena itself. All this is brought to us in a haze of media frenzy as Hunger Games is also very much a commentary on our very own media addictions.
To say more would inevitably lead to spoilers so I’ll leave it here.
Jennifer Lawrence is excellently cast as Katniss Everdeen. A spot-on combination of believable toughness and an understated beauty. The rest of the cast is also well balanced and the filmmakers have resisted the urge to have solely beautiful people in the movie, which is a breath of fresh air. Special mention goes out to Stanley Tucci for his over the top yet believable portrayal of Ceasar Flickerman – the TV host of the Hunger Games.
In the districts it would seem that the world has stopped for ever circa 1934, whereas Capitol is a kind of aquatic Albert Speer fascist dream. The inhabitants of the Capitol all have outrageous looks, a kind of mirror to the current Hollywood jetset with their botox addiction, anorexia and other esthetic obsessions. Costumes in the film are done well, with none of the gary looks of many a superhero movie in sight.
Top marks for the bang on lighting, which added to the constant sense of impending doom. The camera movement was a mix of classic and ultra modern mobility. As I watched the movie a host of well executed details just kept on adding to the sense that this film was made with great care and love, withough going all “fan boy” about it.
All in all, Hunger Games seemed to me to be a movie that was put together by a group of people determined to get it right, do justice to the original novels and at the same time provide great entertainment. For me, the movie worked on all levels and I highly recommend it to any and all. The swooning teens that surrounded me in the cinema seemed to get a kick out of it as well, so I predict it will do very well.
One slight note of criticism has to do with the actual subject matter: it did make me slightly uneasy that I was watching a movie of which the main plot consists of teens killing each other. But hey, it’s just a movie right?
May the reviews be ever in your favour, Hunger Games!
Update: march 26th, Hunger Games has biggest opening weekend on record for non sequel with $ 155 million: