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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Jennifer Lawrence
Josh Hutcherson
Liam Hemsworth
Elizabeth Banks
Wes Bentley
Stanley Tucci
Woody Harrelson
Donald Sutherland
Toby Jones.
Directors
Gary Ross.
Screenwriters
Billy Ray.
Running Time
142 minutes

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The Hunger Games
It's The Running Man meets Skins...


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Plot
In a future version of North America a small, wealthy city rules over the rest of the impoverished nation. Every year, a number of the country’s youngest inhabitants are randomly selected to fight to the death in The Hunger Games. This year, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) will change the game.


Review
The Hunger Games
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Probably the greatest achievement of The Hunger Games, and there are many, is that in adapting a phenomenally successful teen novel its creative team have produced something that works as a film, not just as an adaptation of a book. There’s no required reading before entering the cinema in order to ‘get it’, and it’s well above the ‘all your favourite bits but with pictures’ business that has become the accepted standard. When a series has sold millions of copies, as Suzanne Collins’ trilogy has, the default position is to produce something that will look just as readers imagined, to show what we were all thinking, rather than offer something nobody had considered. The Hunger Games as a novel has been dissected, expanded and retooled into something intelligent, immersive and powerfully current.

The world of Panem, a futuristic America, is established elegantly in about 90 seconds. First we see two men discussing an event called The Hunger Games in front of an audience; both men evidently so luxuriating in time and money that they can tint and trim every inch of their surface until they resemble painted couture clowns. Then, with a literal scream, we cut to District 12, where all is grey and people dress like the cast of a regional stage production of Little House On The Prairie. This is how Panem is divided. There are the haves and the have-nots. The haves live in The Capitol, amid great wealth and power. The have-nots live in a series of impoverished districts, put under oppressive rule after a failed uprising some time in the indefinite past. Each year two of every district’s youngest members are selected to battle to the death in an arena, from which one will emerge victorious for... no real reason. The poor will do as they are told, however senseless, and the rich will keep on keeping on. The echoes of the 99%ers are clear and not unintended.

This world bleeds with a cruelty from which director Gary Ross never retreats. Even luxury is portrayed as almost oppressive — gluttonous and requiring constant effort. Our heroine, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), is introduced hunting a cute little deer — typically movie shorthand for a complete monster. She has no time for being wistful because she has to survive. This runs right through the film: what is survival worth? Lawrence is perfect as Katniss. There’s very little softness about her, more a melancholy determination that good must be done even if that requires bad things. She stretches many of the tightly anguished muscles built in Winter’s Bone — the District 12 scenes have a similar hard-bitten feel — plus some other more traditionally gym-honed ones.

The violence and cruelty is most explicit in the Hunger Games arena, a vast, synthetic forest where 24 children hunt each other, and the level of brutality is very smartly done. You don’t get a rating suitable for a teenage audience by gutting preteens or decorating the landscape with their blood. So Ross cuts around it. The constantly searching, handheld camerawork used throughout the film comes in most useful during moments of violence, flashing round the action and making you think you’ve seen everything without ever really clocking anything that would upset your appetite.

It’s an old trick but a very effective one. The only clumsy element of these scenes is an intermittent commentary provided by Stanley Tucci and Toby Jones, which fills in incidental story details in a brash ‘Basil Exposition’ way. When it pops up, it kills the momentum.

Arguably more interesting than the cruelty within the arena is that going on outside, which is almost entirely of the film’s invention. Unlike in the book, we see The Capital’s Gamemakers pulling the strings, despatching contestants with casual stage directions. It’s all played with a cold, even hand, chilling in its absolute lack of concern for consequence. It’s these moments that linger after the film has finished because it doesn’t seem quite so very removed from reality. If this were real, it slyly asks, would you watch it? Well, would you?


Verdict
As thrilling and smart as it is terrifying. There have been a number of big-gun literary series brought to screen over the past decade. This slays them all.


Reviewed by Olly Richards

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Hunger Games
Empire Star Rating

NOT HUNGRY FOR MORE.....

Anyone who’s seen Kinji Fukasaku’s far superior BATTLE ROYALE will already know what this particular film is all about - watered down, kiddie friendly Hollywood mush about a bunch of teenagers condemned to fight each other to the death. Trouble is, the all too familiar dystopian future presented here never really fully convinces. After we’ve been introduced to the handsome looking tween friendly twenty-something cast, Gary Ross’ film then seems to drag on for what seems l... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 16:33, 05 March 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Suck On This, Twilight

arrassing, and I don't even want to know why folk like it or why I'm "wrong". I just don't care. MFAO Brilliant! ... More

Posted by JohnChard at 05:03, 14 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Suck On This, Twilight

Just watched this for the first time - went in with no real expectations but it was not for me. At all. Unbelievable load of crap with zero logic and zero emotional involvement, despite the fucking subject matter! I'm obviously not the target audience, but even teen/kids films need to make a certain amount of sense. This does so many wrong things in trying to create its world and tell such a story that it just became humourous after a while. It also dragged on for an eternity because of it... More

Posted by Vitamin F at 13:27, 28 January 2013 | Report This Post


Suck On This, Twilight

A powerful adventure that's as honest and effective as it is thrilling. Not to mention that it's one of the most promising first entries in a film adaptation of a book series since The Fellowship Of The Ring. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 08:26, 18 December 2012 | Report This Post


Blows Teen Melodrama Chunks

The Hunger Games would be much more enjoyable if it was a throwaway American pulp piece. Not bad enough to be laughable and not good enough to be taken seriously. Competent in comparison to the Twilight Saga ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by atom_band at 13:54, 31 October 2012 | Report This Post


This was a film I was really looking foward to watch, but in some aspects it let me down, they could of gone into more deapth of the characters in the feature, they could of made the actual 'games' a lot more entertaining, by introducing more characters and enemies or simply by not killing of half the cast straight of the bat. The ending completly shocked me, they didn't put thought into the ending at all, they should of made the two main characters break find a glitch in the 'game' and escape a... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ashley flowers at 09:40, 08 September 2012 | Report This Post


This was a film I was really looking foward to watch, but in some aspects it let me down, they could of gone into more deapth of the characters in the feature, they could of made the actual 'games' a lot more entertaining, by introducing more characters and enemies or simply by not killing of half the cast straight of the bat. The ending completly shocked me, they didn't put thought into the ending at all, they should of made the two main characters break find a glitch in the 'game' and escape a... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ashley flowers at 09:37, 08 September 2012 | Report This Post


Pants film!

Just watched this and found it to be very disapointing. The future concept feels like fake movie pagentry and the fop fashion of the city dwellers is utterly ludicrous. The production values are squandered by Tom Sterns bland and unimaginitive cinematography. It's not as intelligent as it thinks it is either but a good performance from Lawrence gives the film respectability and watchabilty. The whole film is just dull and there are only a few suspence moments to grab you. So much has been lifte... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mrjingles75 at 03:30, 02 September 2012 | Report This Post


The Hunger Games

Perhaps as disjointed as Battle Royale, its nevertheless thrilling and authentic. The Hunger Games has an incredible cast working with a marvelous script that opens a brutal, but intelligent and creative world to the big screen. Maybe this is the new "Harry Potter". ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by norgizfox at 03:29, 20 August 2012 | Report This Post


Well worth a watch

Lawrence absolutely nails this. After simmering performances in Winter's Bone and XMen, I Iook forwards to seeing more and more from her. The movie is gorgeously made, although the plot is a little unbelievable, (12 Districts of oppressed people should have a platoon or two of freedom fighters, sorry, "terrorists", to show the fops what's what by now!) Where Battle Royale lampoons the violence, Games takes a more serious view on the hunting and slaying. I found myself genuinely caring for t... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danielthompson99 at 00:26, 19 August 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Boring and dull

The Hunger Games Move over /i] and i] here comes the new book for young adults/teens, and its quite violent!. I'm not gonna go into the plot for this adaptation as it really is unbelievably unoriginal. This is my issue with this film (and book), the plot is dated, old, done many many many times, so why is this so hyped I ask? First thing that does hit you is the fact the film spends a lot of time building the characters. Right from the start everybody is slowly developed so by th... More

Posted by Phubbs at 16:10, 17 August 2012 | Report This Post


Boring and dull

What a let down, I was really looking forward to this. Complete waste of time, I have to totally disagree with the Empire review, this film just plain stinks ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Gram Woods at 00:11, 06 August 2012 | Report This Post


Review of Hunger games by Venky( www.madabtmovies.com) This segment is about the 2012 movie “Hunger games” directed by Gary Ross starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth banks, Liam Hemsworth.This movie is based upon a novel and it belongs to the sci-fi genre. This movie seems to be in the same line of movies l"Condemned" , "live or die" where the participants have to kill each other until one emerges as winner. Personally I did not like this m... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by parivenkat at 12:54, 30 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Hunger Games

Best film I've seen this year. Can't wait to get it on dvd when it comes out and watch it again! ... More

Posted by moehat at 00:56, 04 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Hunger Games

I am yet to see the film, I've held up because I was curious about the hype and decided I'd rather read the books first. I finished the first one last night and I have to say it was refreshing. I'm so happy that a teen book with actual substance has been made into a film with half decent reviews. It's sad that people actual bitch about it though. Yes, it's a 12A. Mainly because of what people have said before - the target audience. But just because it isn't blood, blood and more blood does... More

Posted by ravagee at 14:53, 21 June 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Hunger Games - Review

I have watched this film a few months ago when it was just out. It certainly relies on a very interesting (and political) premise of extreme social inequality. That narrative is a very interesting one as well as relevant. It is generally well acted and directed, but I expected the killing scenes to have been more powerful. I am also quite reserved regarding the love story in the film. An overall very interesting film, if not a brilliant one. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dalitis8 at 10:19, 13 June 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Hunger Games - Review

One of the best aspects that science-fiction can do, is to be a satire of a current worldwide issue, as a way of talking about the present, rather than the future. As Stephen King has shown us in his Richard Bachman-authored The Running Man, the killing of others can be gold for televised entertainment. This very premise has been reflected upon later works, including the much-hyped adaptation of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, which has been advertised as the next Twilight. Whilst it does at... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 17:58, 12 June 2012 | Report This Post


The Hunger Games

A great transformation from book to film. Ross does an amazing job creating the odd characters of Panem. Good acting. A new craze has been created... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SPassariello9 at 02:52, 23 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Hunger Games Review

I first saw The Hunger Games on the wrong side of 6 pints and a couple of Red Bulls so my head wasn't as clear as it ought to have been so I decided to see it again before I could make a proper judgement. Turns out I though the same the second time out. It's good but it could have been so much better. Gary Ross does a good job of creating the world of Panem its people. He also manages to capture the mayhem and confusion of the start of the Games themselves. He also peppers the film with a ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Scruffybobby at 18:23, 15 April 2012 | Report This Post


The Hunger Games Review

When a film mentions its own title almost every minute it is never a good sign and The Hunger Games was no exception. The lack initiative or common sense used by the majority of the characters throughout the games is heavily frustrating – look out for the tree scene or a scene with Rue. Many characters are introduced and then forgotten, which can only be preparation for a sequel, a flaw that The Lord of the Rings trilogy managed to avoid. All in all The Hunger Games was an enjoyable watch ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DaleLawson at 16:31, 15 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

And I say that as someone who has BR in their top ten of all time. ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 19:36, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

You know Battle Royale had way more cheese in it than Hunger Games - it was a melodrama as much as anything. Hunger Games didn't have anywhere near the same amount. ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 19:33, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

not what I'm saying. I'm talking about the mechanics of the film. There was nothing to stop Ross from taking the camera away from Katniss in an attempt to build upon the momentum created. Excusing the story for one moment completely, I think that would have made for a far more dramatic payoff. I realise that The Hunger Games is Katniss's story (in the books), but that doesn't stop Ross from delving in to other areas literally disconnected from her at other times (the control room, Donald Suther... More

Posted by Deviation at 19:21, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

L: Deviation But if you understand the logic, why don't you buy it? Did you want her to go kill and brutally murder people like that girl in Battle Royale just for the sake of spectacle? That would have been idiotic. hat's not what I'm saying. I'm talking about the mechanics of the film. There was nothing to stop Ross from taking the camera away from Katniss in an attempt to build upon the momentum created. Excusing the story for one moment completely, I think that would have made for a f... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 17:25, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

... More

Posted by elab49 at 16:01, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


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