The Hunger Games DVD Review

Are you hungry, for a little more than what you had before?

God awful Kosheen references aside, The Hunger Games phenomenon comes to a home entertainment format near you this month.

Though I still don’t quite get what’s so phenomenal about it.

The year is, well, some time in the future.

The world’s gone to pot, an eminently believable reality, and what’s left of humanity has been enslaved by a wealthy minority of elite nonces dressed up in garish attire that’d make John Paul Gaultier blush.

To keep this ruling elite entertained through their lives of elaborate excess and boring riches, the powers that be have come up with an event called the hunger games.

Proles from the twelve districts that were formed by the overlords in this world are volunteered for said games, where they must fight to the death for the right to live.

You’d imagine they’d get some sort of slap up meal thrown in with their right to live thing, but apparently not.

Anyway, in district twelve, the poorest district of this less than brave new world, Katniss Everdeen struggles to feed herself and her younger sister whilst also keeping her mentally awol mother on a straight and sober path.

So when our heroine’s little sister is volunteered for this year’s games, you can already guess what sacrifice Katniss makes.

So off Katniss toddles to a strange looking utopia with the boy volunteer from her district, Peeta Mellark, to prepare for her fight to the death.

The Hunger Games arrived to great fanfare and reviews when it first arrived in cinemas earlier this year, though I struggled to understand why.

While it’s beautifully made and the idea sounds promising, the story was so cold and artificial that the characters never really get under your skin.

Still, I’ve been wrong about films before and doubtless will be again, so was more than happy to come back for seconds with this blu-ray version of The Hunger Games.

Alas, one serving was more than enough for me.

While there’s nothing wrong with director Gary Ross’ vision of Suzanne Collins feverishly popular young adult book, there’s not much right about it either.

Neither the script nor the actors made me feel anything for them, as anything approaching identifiable human behaviour is strangely lacking here, with the exception of one.

A young girl competitor forced to be part of the games called Rue, played by Amandla Stenberg, is the only one who made me care about what happened to her.

And the only person to blame for this lack of characterisation or insight into the human condition is Collins herself.

Because the truth is she doesn’t really have a story to tell.

Writers today don’t have anything to say, they just want to sell something; so they target the undercooked audience of the young adult market, churn out some generic characters so that everyone can relate to them and hope to spin their idea into the next big thing.

And then watch as the big bucks come rolling in, before spewing out a trilogy or even franchise from these characters.

Very calculated, very savvy and very soulless; which is exactly how The Hunger Games feels to me.

There’s no heart here, just providing a fix for the post Harry Potter and Twilight masses.

Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss Everdeen holds a mirror up to this, with her dead eyed character a mirror to the soul of Collins.

Don’t get me wrong, Collins is without doubt a fantastically amazing businesswoman – just like J K Rowling.

But as a writer of great stories? I don’t think so.

In truth, it’s been a poor year for the blockbuster.

Prometheus eventually got lost up its own space ass, which seems to be writer Damon Lindelof’s particular speciality, and just when you’re hoping Christopher Nolan will swoop in an save us from the ridiculous scripts of the big budget film, he offers up his weakest story to date in The Dark Knight Rises.

The Hunger Games sits somewhere in between these, only the people behind this haven’t earned up any of the good will iconic directors Ridley Scott and Nolan have with the brilliance of their earlier films.

In fact, I think I’ve lost my appetite for Hollywood’s cinematic blockbuster.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

September 2012