Film Reviews

The Hunger Games Gary Ross

Rating - 4/10



Anarchy had reigned over the twelve districts of Panem; riots had led to an uprising and civil war that destroyed the peace and security of the land, ripping out the stitches of civilization. All of this was 75 years previous. The legacy remains and what the Capitol calls The Hunger Games. As penance and sacrifice for the misgivings of the past each of the twelve districts must select by lottery or volunteer one boy and one girl to represent their district in a modern gladiatorial battle to the death.

Catniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in the poorest district of Panem, District 12, with her forlorn mother (Paula Malcomson) and younger sister, Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields). The 74th annual Hunger Games is the first time that ‘Prim’ is eligible for selection and when her name is drawn, her sister Catniss volunteers on her behalf. Catniss and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) head off to join the other twenty-two representatives to train and be assessed by their mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), the director of the games Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) and the host Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) who presents the contestants to the thousands of adoring fans.

What ensues is, ultimately, a survival story; strangely, a fight between children with menacing weapons; and simply, a battle to the death.

Jennifer Lawrence’s character is portrayed in stark resemblance to her role in Winter’s Bone. She plays an older sibling, whose mother is inept and father is dead, while she is, once again, the dependable teenager handling responsibility beyond her years. She does this very well, however, it does induce questions about her versatility, regardless, her performance is commendable in parts, if a little cringe-worthy otherwise.

The plot progresses with assertive speed during the initial acts, perhaps too quickly for comfort. You get a sense of the bond she (Catniss) has with her younger sister but you aren’t enthralled by it. Likewise, with her friend, boyfriend, whatever, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) you are briefly enlightened as to their relationship, however, not long enough to empathise to the minutest degree. Conversely, the plot then stalls when they arrive at the venue for the games – far too long is spent during the tepid and frankly, inconsequential scenes within their futuristic apartment. They train and display their skills under the tutelage of Abernathy, whose character transforms from a troubled alcoholic into admirable master within the space of three minutes.

The public scenes were necessary if not entirely consuming and the performance of Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, the host, was outstanding of all others. Certain characters, however, belonged on the set of a high school movie; Alexander Ludwig’s character Cato was for all intents and purposes the high school jock whose arrogance betrayed him in the end, alongside his cheerleader-esque girlfriend who followed the same fate. Their performances were appalling and entirely to the detriment of the story, an unimaginative and hapless counter to the underdog cliché which occurred with only slightly more credibility.

When the battle commences you are dragging your slouched figure into a reasonable posture rather than tearing at the edge of your seat. The bloodshed that follows is contrived and apologetic, one of the contestants is killed by a spear thrown from at least thirty metres away yet it barely penetrates her stomach, she removes it like a splinter, expresses no pain whatsoever, then dies. And I’m supposed to be heartbroken because she’s twelve, well I’m not, not in the slightest.

There are, under the pretences of entertainment, comments made within the concept rather than the performance. It is the author of the novel, Suzanne Collins, rubbing her crystal ball and categorising the potential of human behaviour. For that, there is credibility. As a piece of cinema the costume and make-up was incredible, a sort of modern twist on monarchist France; the futuristic settings weren’t entirely original but were appropriate and most crucially of all the concept was interesting.

If you are thirteen years old then the excitement would probably induce a seizure, however, if you are nudging your way in any vicinity of late teens or older, beware: The moment where Catniss Everdeen gives Peeta Mullark the puppy dog eyes may make you regurgitate your bowels.