In the futuristic world of Panem, the 12 districts are each forced to send two young competitors to take part in the Hunger Games. A brutal annual tournament where 24 young people must fight to the death on live television, there can only be one winner. When her younger sister Prim is selected to represent District 12, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to go in her place…
The Hunger Games is an enjoyable film. It hits the right notes in terms of drama and apprehension. Moments of tension are tremendously well executed. In particular, the lottery scene and the countdown scene are fantastic. The lack of music, and in part sound, is incredibly effective in heightening tension in this scenes.
There are some very obvious parallels between The Hunger Games, based on Suzanne Collins’ book, with Battle Royale. The Ross’ film differentiates itself by providing its own dystopian back story. The futuristic setting works well; any allegory is simple and does not distract from the microcosm of Catniss’ involvement in the tournament.
Costumes and art direction create quite the contrast between the Capitol and the world of the districts. Some of the effects used appear synthetic, however. Due to cuts made to guarantee a 12A certificate, some of the action sequences seem haphazardly edited. These scenes would most likely have been more satisfying in their original state. Furthermore, the cuts seem ironic, given that the film is preoccupied by themes of violence.
Jennifer Lawrence delivers a commanding performance as protagonist Catniss. Lawrence is really proving why she is one of Hollywood’s brightest young actresses. Elsewhere, Josh Hutcherson is believable as Peeta, while Stanley Tucci is suitably larger than life as Caesar Flickerman.
The Hunger Games is implausible at times, with some suspect plotting and explanations. Nevertheless, the film entertains throughout its 142-minute duration.