THE HUNGER GAMES ( M)
Director: Gary Ross ( Pleasantville ) Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Willow Shields, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks
She’s got the right starve THE world will be watching. That’s what the poster for The Hunger Games says. And the massive global popularity of Suzanne Collins’ teen- lit novels ensures it shall be so.
For now, however, the world will have questions about The Hunger Games.
Is it better than Twilight? Way better. A lot more movement, colour, passion, grit and, most importantly of all, substance. A lot less of the blank stares and bland storytelling.
Is it violent? Yep. But not too violent. The M- rating has got it exactly right. It’s a movie where people are literally fighting for their lives. Treading softly would have meant trudging in the wrong direction.
Does it stick to the book? You bet. Hardcore fans will not be disappointed.
Finally, how does Jennifer Lawrence go in the all- important role of renegade teen heroine Katniss Everdeen? She goes, and goes, and goes. And you will follow her every hurried, hunted, haunted step of the way.
The setting is a strictly class- segregated version of the US, now known as Panem. The haves live it up in an exclusive sector called the Capitol. The have- nots must fend for themselves in numbered Districts.
In the poverty- stricken District 12, we are introduced to 16- year- old Katniss, a steelwilled teen who is fiercely protective of her younger sister, Primrose ( Willow Shields).
Katniss dreams of one day disappearing into the woods with her best friend Gale ( Aussie Liam Hemsworth), but family loyalty keeps her in her place. Later that place becomes most dangerous for Katniss when Primrose is chosen to become District 12’ s representative in the 74th Hunger Games.
Staged exclusively for the pleasure of Capitol residents, the televised tournament chooses two teens from every District in an organised fight to the death. And that is why Katniss has to take Primrose’s place.
After she is hauled off to the Capitol for training, Katniss discovers the other entrant is Peeta ( Josh Hutcherson) – a lad with whom she already shares some history.
The producers play up a romance between the pair, which only serves to distract Katniss from her drive to survive.
Once the film starts, it builds an intense and sometimes confronting momentum that is hard to resist.
The dire plight of the contestants and the desperate measures they must take to stay in the running are always to the fore. If there is any light relief to be found, it is only when we cross to a colourful cabal of Capitol eccentrics ( played by Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci).
Any doubters in the audience will be won over by Lawrence’s pitch- perfect performance as Katniss.
Is there for room for improvement here? Absolutely. There are times when The
Hunger Games contracts a mild case of first- film- of- the- franchise syndrome. Most symptoms are temporary and soon pass.
The ending could have packed more of a bang but the filmmakers obviously want to reserve some gunpowder for the sequel.
Overall, it’s a solid and sometimes spectacular effort that promises even better things to come. So, without further ado, let
The Hunger Games begin.