Tuesday 24 April 2012

The Hunger Games - Review

Right between the eyes...
Youth entertainment is usually pretty formulaic in Hollywood: adapt a popular teen’s book series into a dramatic series of soppy films featuring various topless models and terrible screenwriting. Although I’m not pointing any fingers (at Twilight), this safe approach is detestable from an artistic perspective and I’m glad that Lionsgate’s most recent foray into adolescent fiction adaptation has been more admirable.

The Hunger Games is based off the controversial and, understandably, wildly successful book series by Suzanne Collins and is based in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic United States where children from various oppressed states (named ‘districts’) are made to fight to the death in a purpose-built arena to provide entertainment for the wealthier citizens of the empire and so the government can maintain the fear by their oppressed citizens of the authorities.

Gripping though the story sounds, it was surprisingly short (the novel itself was about half the size of the first Harry Potter book) and I found that the film did a great job of narrowing the scope of the film’s setting. Many movies fail in trying to encapsulate too much content into their message and not focusing on the simple things – like good storytelling – and this film keeps it very simple. On that note, the film does come across as a little narrow-minded at times, as though the small plot was being overly expanded. I like to call this ‘Rowling-Syndrome’, when a franchise is awaiting its finale for most of the answers.

Although based on a premise, it’s worth noting that the movie avoids becoming a ‘concept-film’ by stressing characterisation and genuine storytelling over all else. Rarely have I noticed such a strong ensemble cast portray so many contrasting individuals with the vigor that it was done with in this film. Although the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’ were clear, the obvious contrast and ample screen time per character enabled the viewer to really observe each of the performances in exquisite detail.

My favourite line :-)
The cinematography was well-suited to the film and well-executed, the acting by all was of a high standard (especially the younger cast) and the screenplay was excellent, especially considering that it was adapted from a children’s novel. I’ve found plenty to rave about and can’t think of any more substantial negatives of the film so it’s time to wrap it up, I think.

The Bottom Line: A very well-executed and entertaining offering, I would definitely recommend this to anyone with the mindset for a film with a twist of the macabre.

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