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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

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


RE: Great Film!!

The O.C. was brilliant! ... More

Posted by The REAL Bozz at 15:37, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

L: elab49 Battle Royale is Battle Royale for teenage girls. I've never understood why something needs to be infantilised to make it for young people. ote] Oh yeah, than there's that. I don't think I've ever seen so much so much teenage melodrama in a uber-violent film than I did in Battle Royale. It's like The OC with blood. Lots of blood. And good. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 15:26, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

L: NinjaShortbread212 Yes, the death of the black girl" really make me feel too much either to be honest. I thought it was quite cheesy really but then again, I thought the whole film was a bit like that. A complete Royalef, or as Spaldy said somewhere, it's Royale "Lite"! hought the same myself. ... More

Posted by Spaldron at 15:22, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

Battle Royale is Battle Royale for teenage girls. I've never understood why something needs to be infantilised to make it for young people. ... More

Posted by elab49 at 15:21, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

Oh yeah, I was looking for the clip on youtube as well.orry for thinking that you were going for the same argument, but after all the "OMG IT'S LIEK BATTLE ROYALE FOR TEENAGE GIRLS" comments I've heard on the interwebs, I considered the comment as being that. Obviously I was wrong. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 15:18, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

I wasn't going to far in the 'same' argument, just that part is another cog (along with matched pairs boys and girls, etc).   I can't remember what was in the video intro to the students in the film now, but I thought it and Kitano explained mostly why, although I have a feeling it was framed in the context of student dissent. I've read the book as well, though. ... More

Posted by elab49 at 14:52, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

y the Battle Royale ACT was to suppress the population and guard against uprisings. Which is remarkably similar. honestly don't remember the guard against uprisings being explained in the film. Also, it still is only a similar basic set-up, the execution is quite different. To say they're the same or like each other is too say that every "superhero without powers" is the same because of the basic set-up. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 14:48, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

L: Spaldron L: S. C. Lee RE: Spaldron. Twilight is a good film. You obviously don't like it which is fair enough but once again, you're in the minority. I do have better things to do, thank God I realised that now, before I wasted any more time posting on here. Goodbye. o instead of replying to peoples legitimate posts you throw a strop and leave? Dude its only a film.......... I've already asked you to leave it instead of prolonging this by aiming at SC Lee. Please stick to di... More

Posted by elab49 at 14:37, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

t has 82%, and you're point is? eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerm, doesn't, it has 49%. Unless he/she wasn't talking about audiences, but I don't think so. ght the whole film was a bit like that. A complete Battle Royale rip-off, or as Spaldy said somewhere, it's "Battle Royale "Lite"!. ou know, I don't remember an Ancient Roman style society in Battle Royale, I don't remember intentionally gaudy costume design in Battle Royale, I don't remember class conflict in Battle Royale, I ... More

Posted by Deviation at 14:32, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

L: S. C. Lee RE: Spaldron. Twilight is a good film. You obviously don't like it which is fair enough but once again, you're in the minority. I do have better things to do, thank God I realised that now, before I wasted any more time posting on here. Goodbye. o instead of replying to peoples legitimate posts you throw a strop and leave? Dude its only a film.......... ... More

Posted by Spaldron at 14:25, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Tedious, over-long, pretty crappy.

L: ashy 16. When Katniss hides up a tree they try to shoot her down. They miss so decide to wait her out. n't they move to the other side of the tree and shoot her from there?] Exactly. Or why didn't they just burn the tree down, seeing as they started a camp fire at its base easily enough? I mean I thought those guys were supposed to be the highly trained bad-asses? ey stole that big dome thing from The Truman Show.nd a lot of other things. attle Royale instead.gree... More

Posted by Spaldron at 14:16, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

The last part is asked and answered, so please leave it.   I found your e-mail SC Lee, you must have hit the wrong button. I've replied. ... More

Posted by elab49 at 14:14, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

Edited ... More

Posted by S. C. Lee at 14:13, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

L: Spaldron L: jcthefirst L: S. C. Lee L: vicandbob Was so boring meant to feel something when the young black girl died? Iouldn't she have been on screen for more than 5 minutes? Shakey cam shite. re you human? I was almost crying - my friend was. For all intents and purposes she was Prim, Katniss's baby sister. She couldn't save her, it could have been Prim. b] Meh, I didn't feel much when she got killed.nnection between them wasn't really sold well. ... More

Posted by NinjaShortbread212 at 14:13, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

L: S. C. Lee The film holds an 85 percent "Certified Fresh" rating and an average score of 7.2 out of 10. The film earned an 80 percent score from "Top Critics". wilight has 82%, and you're point is? t there's agreeing and then there's arguing for the sake of it e] Which is what you are doing. a film review section, ya'know meant for discussing the review (posted by Empire) and sharing our own reviews. hich is what we are doing. t need to go into an endless deba... More

Posted by Spaldron at 14:12, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

L: elab49 Doesn't say 'in reply' to you though? We all know PA glories in this stuff. 've sent you a private message Elab. ... More

Posted by S. C. Lee at 14:05, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

Doesn't say 'in reply' to you though? We all know PA glories in this stuff. ... More

Posted by elab49 at 14:04, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

which isn't happy with posters making personal comments about other posters? s this about my comment about Pigeon Army? It's ok, he likes the abuse, makes him feel wanted. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 14:00, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

Fine. ... More

Posted by S. C. Lee at 13:59, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

A forum which isn't happy with posters making personal comments about other posters?   I thought Adam just included a point of view as an example as someone who'd read the book, which he hadn't. So he just gave it a little more context and to demonstrate there isn't a single opinion.   nbsp;This is a film review section, ya'know meant for discussing the review (posted by Empire) and sharing our own reviews. We don't need to go into an endless debate about it. Don't you... More

Posted by elab49 at 13:56, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

L: elab49 L: S. C. Lee L: adambatman82 L: S. C. Lee You're in the minority Adam. nd? I can live with that. I don't see why that should stop me from engaging in serious discussion explaining what it was that I didn't like about the film. Throwing out the RT consensus like it's some kind of holy word is hardly engaging debate. It also comes across as kind of patronising, especially when provided in the face of an actual retort. For what its worth I didn't hate the... More

Posted by S. C. Lee at 13:42, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

L: elab49 L: Deviation disagree about any of that actually shocking me personally, I did really like the Truman Show forest fire.k a lot of the shock factor is dampened by the fact that the plot dictates that everyone must dieed, there's a slight reprieve on that, but with that one person specifically I didn't expect any of the kids to survive, ergo removing any real surprise. I'd argue that the inevitability of it all was actually it's greatest issue: we're quite literally ticki... More

Posted by Deviation at 13:40, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great Film!!

L: elab49 L: adambatman82 Its a discussion, we're not all supposed to agree. I wish we could get everyone to actively agree that they understand this sentence before we allow them to join ote] Yeah but there's agreeing and then there's arguing for the sake of it This is a film review section, ya'know meant for discussing the review (posted by Empire) and sharing our own reviews. ... More

Posted by S. C. Lee at 13:33, 13 April 2012 | Report This Post


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