Adapted from the first book in the immensely popular young-adult trilogy, ‘The Hunger Games’ is more than just your average blockbuster. The story features a tournament/reality show involving a 24-man fight to the death, and takes what is already a taboo subject – children dying – and pushes it to its limits.
All the action takes place in a voyeuristic future society where the 1% can’t think of anything more exciting to do than watch children fight to the death. There is a satirical edge that runs throughout the film, especially when dealing with societal sadism, and it’s one of the strongest aspects of the film.
For the most part, the performances are also solid, from both the older and the younger cast members. Both Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci bring a bit of experience, and the young stars, Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth, perform admirably.
But, it isn’t all plain sailing. Gary Ross (director) opted for a hand-held approach to the action – I suppose to give it a sense of realism – but it just leaves the action jerky and confusing, often making it difficult to work out who’s hitting who. Though, it must be considered that this did act as a way for the film to get away with a teen-friendly rating because, with the camera moving so much, you don’t really see any blood and guts. Fortunately, the film is strong enough narratively and emotionally that you kind of forget about the wobbly camera. But, especially towards the beginning of the film, the shaky-cam is very off-putting.
There were a few other, less intrusive, problems – including some dodgy CGI – but these are all quite minor niggles for what is a thought-provoking, and thoroughly enjoyable, teen movie.