Having fought off my fellow contributors for the opportunity to review the adaptation of one of the most addictive Young Adult novels in recent memory, I then worried that I’d be forced to say it was tripe. But no! Against all expectations, The Hunger Games is a Good Film. If that’s not enough, carry on reading.
For those not up to date on the latest teen literary phenomenon, The Hunger Games takes place in the dystopian future Panem, where North America currently is. After putting down an uprising in the country’s 12 districts, the ruling Capitol devised the Games as a way of reminding those pesky workers what happens when they get a bit uppity and forget their place. Each year every district, excepting the Capitol itself of course, is required to send one boy and one girl along to a fight to the death. The last standing is then showered in riches to pay for their lifetime of therapy.
We join the action as Katniss Everdeen prepares her little sister, Primrose, for the lottery to pick District 12’s representatives. She assures the youngest Everdeen that as it’s her first time in the pool there’s no way Prim could possibly be picked. I assume you see where this is going. As a result, Katniss immediately steps up to take her sister’s place.
Both uncommunicative and frequently alone, Katniss lacks a lot of dialogue. Yet, she’s brilliantly portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, who carries the film with confidence. She also does a good line in fake smiles – in most reviews, that comment would be a negative but not when playing unsociable Katniss.
For a film about 24 teenagers trying to slaughter each other, there is horror to be had but its 12A rating has sapped some of the punch. The handheld shaky cam does add tension to the hunt and the sound editing was excellent but when a wimp like me is able to sit through that much death without looking away, there’s something missing. This is particularly glaring when, in order to explain why we should be scared of a situation, the action is sometimes forced to pause for some exposition from the commentators.
I’ll reiterate, The Hunger Games is a good film: entertaining, engrossing and emotional without being manipulative. The adaptation is well-judged, the script zips along at pace and as such, it stands on its own two feet – no extra-curricular reading required. Purists expecting Madge to appear or any back story to the Avox girl should probably just stick to the books. Solid and well-made, it’s a satisfying couple of hours of entertainment but it doesn’t stay with you. Instead of dwelling on the cruelty of the Capitol’s rule, or the barbaric actions of some of the kids, I left the cinema puzzling over something I had noticed in the closing credits: There were snake wranglers? When in the film were there snakes?
4 stars = Rather Pleased