Capi­tol pun­ish­ment

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH

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.

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