The Hunger Games Review

Dystopia is the new vampire.

Suzanne Collins’ young adult flavoured literary phenomenon The Hunger Games hits cinemas this week, but is it worth the hype?

In a conveniently unspecified future, the state of Panem was borne after the equally convenient collapse of America from unknown events; though it’s implied that this was brought about by a failed uprising of America’s people.

The state formerly known as America has since been categorised into twelve new districts who live in poverty while the ruling and totalitarian elite of Capitol can live like queens.

Of course, that’s not enough for this new aristocracy; they also want the proletariat to provide them with some sport and entertainment.

So, as penance for their insubordination, two representatives from each district – one male and one female – are sent forward every year to compete in an event known as The Hunger Games; a nihilistic, gladiatorial battle to the death where twenty four people enter yet only one will leave.

This year witnesses a first though, as Katniss Everdeen becomes the first ever volunteer from District Twelve to spare her younger sister Primrose from competing in the 74th annual Hunger Games.

Katniss is a resourceful character, but will she really be able to survive against all the odds in the Capitol’s arena?

Seeing as this is the first of three hugely successful books from the pen of Collins’, it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the survival prospects for the lead character in this new epic movie franchise.

Having never read the books, I came into this movie cold to the hunger games universe but excited. I’d heard the hype and read the positive reviews in most every creditable mainstream media source, so was looking forward to an intelligent new cinematic blockbuster to warm me up.

But, as is becoming depressingly familiar for these hugely successful pre adult books that get turned into films, something gets lost in translation.

Namely that whoever made The Hunger Games never thought to seek the opinion of a single person who’s yet to read the books.

Having premeditated such an outcome, I made sure the odds were forever in my favour by bringing someone who was au fait with Collins’ canon of insanely popular novels.

And it’s a good thing I did too, as you’ll need someone on hand to fill in all the blanks left Director Gary Ross’ rather presumptuous adaptation.

Obviously, we’re supposed to root for Katniss and her cause, to take up her two dimensional moral stance against totalitarian brutality of the regime she has to exist within.

Yet there’s never any real exploration of this oppressive regime and why or how it came to be, just some faux call to arms for rebellion against the established status quo of privilege and excess.

Which is a salient point to make about modern society, as our near sighted capitalist civilisations approach their inevitable conclusions.

If only this point wasn’t spawned from a soulless franchise that’s only reason for being is to make as much money as is humanly possible from the now ripe post Twilight audience with its generic, tailor made product.

Every single character is notable for their complete lack of any genuine human emotion or insight.

Jennifer Lawrence plays the titular hero, Katniss Everdeen and does a damn fine job of it too. She’s young, self sacrificing and hot; so what’s not to like about that?

And if Ross had spent more than three minutes establishing any sort of credible back story to Katniss’ character, you might even care what happens to her as she’s thrust headfirst into the infamously toned down gore of The Hunger Games on these shores.

Joss Hutcherson plays the boy drawn from the same district as Katniss, Peeta Mellark, though I don’t need to tell you about the narrative arc of these two characters for you to work out what destiny has in store for them.

Not that you’ll believe any of it for a second mind, kind of like the entire supporting cast actually. With the notable exception of Amandla Stenberg as Rue, who shows up the majority of her more experienced acting peers by making you care about what happens to her.

There’s some thinly veiled commentary on reality tv bolted on as well, with the televised nature of The Hunger Games and garish depiction of our potential future coming off as some bastard lovechild of Simon Cowell and Lady Gaga’s stylist.

While I’ve no doubt the docile masses will demand a new television product that satisfies human nature’s lust for blood once they eventually tire of watching puppets singing for their entertainment, there’s no real bite to the way this is portrayed.

If these supposedly satirical elements were competing for the most compelling imagining future of reality tv, they’d be voted off at the first chance.

Sadly, dystopia truly is the new vampire.

And as anyone who’s sat through a single instalment of the interminable Twilight saga could tell you, that’s no good thing.

Jonathan Campbell

10 Responses to “The Hunger Games Review”
  1. avatar eshmil says:

    Whatever, who even are you?

    • avatar Editor says:

      I’d have thought the two words @ the end of my review would have made that obvious eshmil.

      Still, judging by your comment’s syntax, I’m guessing you’re probably not the sharpest tool in the box…

      • avatar eshmil says:

        Wow, do you really have nothing better to do than reply to a 11 yr old girl’s comments on your sad little article?
        When you’re writing for a decent site, I’ll take what you say a tad more seriously.

        • avatar Editor says:

          Ah, how sweet – looks like mummy or daddy’s come out to play.

          If your little girl’s upset about an honest review of a film adapted from a book she likes, I understand.

          If she then decides to leave a comment on said review, she’s fair game.

          Apart from being unspoken, her age is irrelevant.

          And if you mean do I have nothing better to do than write about London’s film and music scenes for a living then no, no I don’t.

          P.s. Do you even get the inherent irony of your own comment?

  2. avatar eshmil says:

    Ummmm…no, still me.
    If you’d read the books you’d know that they don’t go into much detail about
    “exploration of this oppressive regime and why or how it came to be” or the”equally convenient collapse of America from unknown events” It’s supposed to be a faithful adaption of the books- not some messed up version to suit today’s critics……

    I agree, yes, It’s a movie for HG fans- therefor it is going to appeal to teenage girls far more than balding, middle aged men.

    And I really think that most critics could be bothered to read a fairly short book if they are reviewing a book to film translation.

    How can you comment “something gets lost in translation” by the film if you’ve never read the books -makes no sense to me.

    And yes I do. You see, it’s okay for me to reply to your comment on your article because i’m 11, not an middle aged ,grandiloquent, capitalist.

    • avatar Editor says:

      Of course you are Eshmil, “grandiloquent” is the in word for this generation’s eleven year old’s…

      Though I am glad to see you’re occasionally able to string more than five words together coherently.

      If you’re so upset about all these balding, middle aged film critics – of which there are many – why don’t you do something about it and start up your own blog?

      Far more productive use of your time and energy.

      Of course, this is not nearly as easy as what you’re doing right now.

      I’m guessing the two are connected.

      And I’m not one of them; middle aged, capitalist or balding.

      If you knew how much money a freelance writer makes, you’d get just how funny this is.

      No, the only capitalists are the people behind your beloved Hunger Games.

      By the by, my head of hair’s so thick and luxurious I can barely get a comb through it.

      Which is why I also write about music…

      • avatar eshmil says:

        Oh really? The receeding hairline in your photo says otherwise….

        • avatar Editor says:

          Oh Em, are you that desperate for my attention?

          I’m flattered, really, but internet stalkers just aren’t my type.

          Especially those who pretend to be little girl’s in their free time…

          I’m just not that guy.

          Luckily for you though, I understand I’m in the minority on this one.

  3. avatar Leila says:

    I can’t blame you for being honest; missing out the backstory will disappoint people like me who read the book, and, like you said, confuse those who haven’t.

    • avatar Editor says:

      Ah, a comment from someone who’s actually watched the film.

      Almost a novelty…

      What did you make of The Hunger Games translation from book to film Leila?

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Dates ‘n stuff

March 2012