With all the hype surrounding The Hunger Games I was determined to see this movie, picking out the time, cinema and even my seat online. The book has been praised (it is a good read), the trailers looked enticing and the critics and press have given it the thumbs up. With popcorn in hand I was expecting fireworks. But when they failed to go off, instead fizzling out as the scenes rolled by, I left the cinema with a tub of untouched popcorn, feeling as rotten as I had when, as a four year old, I watched Critters for the first time.
I have a major bone to pick with this movie. The premise so clearly established in the novel is so wrongly established in the movie. Sometime in the future the world is divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Seventy-four years ago the poverty-stricken districts waged war on the Capitol. When the Capitol won the war they decided to enforce an annual punishment called the Hunger Games. Basically one young man and woman from each of the 12 districts is sacrificed as a yearly reminder of the Capitols power and reign. This premise was not clearly relayed in the movie and I could only imagine the confusion for young children.
As a result this movie basically ends up being some unnerving story about children killing children for entertainment. It is almost like a disturbing version of Lord of the Flies, which is set in early Rome. No longer are the children stranded on a desert island but instead have been pushed into the Coliseum so the primitive masses can watch, laugh and cheer as children are needlessly slaughtered. In the translation from novel to film too much information was left out.
The first half of the movie is slow to unfold and feels drawn out unnecessarily. The second half does pick up in pace when the 24 children are finally unleashed into the wilderness, understanding that there can only be 1 winner. But this is where the killing begins and it just becomes a discomforting bloodbath, mixed in with some more long winded and drawn out scenes. As the film winds up there is no dramatic scene calling for an end to the Hunger Games, no inclination to what the future holds, just that the winners go home and have to pretend like nothing has changed. There is a slight twist to the film, which I won't reveal in case you wish to see it (no one likes spoilt milk). But even then it still manages to finish with an underwhelming fizzle.
The Young and 'Hopeful' Tributes (From: thehungergames.wikia.com)
I must commend the lead actress Jennifer Lawrence who plays Katniss Everdeen for I think she was quite convincing in the role, but the other characters felt a bit awkward – much like the Twilight movies. There were some other positive, feel good moments throughout the movie. For instance Katniss heroically volunteers to participate in the games instead of her younger sister; or when Katniss protects a younger contestant who reminds her of her sister; and the love story blended throughout the games. But it is all mashed into this unnerving storyline. This movie is definitely one for teenagers/adolescents and not one for younger children. I kid you not, after I saw Critters I checked under my bed every night for the next 6 years of my life. Who knows what impact The Hunger Games will have on you.
My verdict: if you're in a great mood don't spoil it with the movie version of The Hunger Games. Spend your weekend reading the book instead and then if you're feeling game check out the movie. If you've got young children perhaps take them to see the Lorax instead - at least you will all leave the cinema with a smile on your face.