Now that the hype from The Hunger Games has died down a bit, and I’ve had some time to let it stew, I feel I can write a review that’s less influenced by popular opinion.
The Hunger Games is a movie based on the first book of the hit series aimed at young adults. In The Hunger Games, the rich and powerful live in a utopian city called the Capitol. Outside of the Capitol are twelve districts, each which helps provide the Capitol with the resources it needs. It soon becomes apparent that the Capitol is actually a dystopia, using force and manipulation to keep the citizens of the twelve districts in line. Part of the way the Capitol keeps the citizens of the twelve districts in check is with a national event called The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a televised survival of the fittest, in which there can only be one survivor. The survivor is given a hero’s welcome by the citizens of the Capitol. The thing that makes The Hunger Games so interesting, is that all the contestants are between the ages of 12 and 18.
The story follows Katniss Evergreen, a 16 year old girl from the 12th district. A pretty girl with a sharp eye, she helps her family survive by poaching animals from the nearby forests. When her younger sister is chosen during the annual Reaping, Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place. She has a short while to say goodbye to her friends and family before being delivered to the Capitol, to be revealed to the world as one of the 24 contestants.
Overall I thought the movie was pretty good, but was really let down by a Hollywood ending. Apparently the ending of the movie is very similar to the end of the book, but if I had written it, I probably wouldn’t have ended it the way the author does. Maybe it was just the way it’s portrayed in the movie, but the ending comes off feeling a bit cheap, and left me feeling unsatisfied.
The way the movie also seems to gloss over certain relationships once the actual Games start, made it seem a bit flat. There is a key relationship that develops between Katniss and one of the other contestants, and it felt a bit rushed. It’s something I’ve noticed a lot lately in Hollywood films that are based on books. Logically I can see why things should work, but because they aren’t given enough time to develop in comparison to the book, they usually come out feeling quite empty.
But this is not to say that I didn’t enjoy The Hunger Games. The effects and cinematography were all up to par, and there were some really good performances. It also had some incredibly dramatic moments and was a really enjoyable watch. Unfortunately, I can’t get rid of that nagging part of me that feels with a bit more time to tell the story, and perhaps a little bit more of an honest look at itself, it could have been something great!
Now some of you may have heard it compared to Battle Royale, a book and movie which both pre-date The Hunger Games by over a decade. Battle Royale is based on similar themes and also deals with teenagers who find themselves trapped in a battle to the death. I was hoping to avoid comparing The Hunger Games to Battle Royale, but unfortunately I can’t seem to avoid it. They are incredibly similar, with the only major difference being their target audiences and some aspects of the setting. I feel Battle Royale is stronger in many ways because it wasn’t aimed at teens. The Hunger Games seems to avoid taking a good hard look at humanity, because if it did, chances are no one would let their kids read it.
Movie Rating: Any enjoyable watch, but felt like it was pulling it’s punches due to it’s target market. Ultimately, it’s Battle Royale light.