It has been a hard few weeks for me recently. The GAME store in Lancaster has closed down and I have had to work almost round the clock to get assignment work done and it has been hard to find time for me. Well that time is upon us because over the next few weeks several of the best looking films this year are released. If you saw my list of the top 10 films for this year you would see that there are many good-looking films coming out this year, but there is one film that after seeing it I wish I had included. With so many mainstream films being released it is hard to see the ones in the corner but when you spot them and see them you will wonder why you did not see them before. Nicely tucked away in the corner of the current film releases is this film – The Hunger Games.
Now I would just like to say a few words to fans of Battle Royale: THIS IS NOT A RIP OFF. It has some themes relating to it such as children fighting each other but this has some nicer themes as well. I have seen some of Battle Royale and that is a blood festival compared to this, technically you could count Battle Royale as a younger rip off to The Running Man.
Now as I have said before this is nicely tucked away in the corner and so it is not all that visible, I remember seeing images for this film in a recent edition of Empire and thought it looked interesting. It was not until I saw it advised at the UK’s Best Cinema Chain that I took an interest and then when I saw the trailer it reminded me of images from the edition of Empire. The film does have some themes and does sound like Battle Royale in some ways but it is not Battle Royale, it is something else.
The film takes place in a place called Panem which is what is left after an unknown event in North America. After a failed uprising against the capitol a new form of entertainment is founded in which children from 12 districts are chosen at random to fight to the death. If they win they will receive more food and will live in well-furnished accommodation. The story then moves to the character of Katniss played by Jennifer Lawrence. She spends her time hunting and looking after her sister, she is also in love with someone named Gale (Liam Hemsworth). The reaping begins where a boy and girl are chosen from each district to fight in the Hunger Games. Katniss has her name placed in the raffle several times for taking more food and oil than other people; her sister is only in once but is chosen. Katniss volunteers so her sister does not have to fight. A boy called Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is also chosen who has some link with Katniss. The two of them journey to the capitol and are then trained by a mentor, and groomed to look good for the television people as well as trying to get sponsors who will try to keep them alive. Originally they are not favoured due to them coming from district 12 but after showing off a lot Katniss becomes the favourite.
The day of the games arrive and she is transported to the arena base and then enters the arena through a tube. After 1 minute passes the games begin, several people are killed within the first few minutes. Katniss opts for getting basics instead of better supplies and begins to look around the arena to survive. Every time the guns go off she knows it means someone has been killed. She continues her survival but then has to run away from a fire started by the television people and a group of other district children who have banned together. After getting help from a girl called Rue she manages to escape and collect her weapon of choice, a bow and arrows. After falling ill Rue looks after her and they become friends and work together. Rue is eventually killed and Katniss finds Peeta wounded, Rue’s death causes riots to happen in District 11. Peeta and Katniss form an alliance after rules were announced that if 2 people from the same district are the only ones left they both win. A short while later supplies are sent in and Katniss is almost killed but is saved by the other entry from the same district as Rue. Eventually the TV people send in mutant dogs to finish off the contestants and from this Katniss and Peeta overcome the final entrant in the contest. Thinking they are safe but then the rule stating that 2 people can win is overturned. However Katniss persuades Peeta to eat some poisonous berries, just before they eat the berries the decision is overturned, they both win becoming the first entrants from District 12 to win. They are celebrated back in the Capitol and return home.
The film has an interesting setting, OK it is based on a series of novels written by Suzanne Collins but when you see what it looks like, it is an incredible sight. District 12 is a very poor district and because I have recently read The Road you can kind of compare the two but in this case there are more people. The Capitol is a very rich place and well looked after, so you do see this struggle and how the authorities keep the country under control through poverty and fear, it is a police state in other words with lots of white guards all over the place.
The characters themselves are one of the real treats. The president of Panem is played by Donald Sutherland. His character has the underlying tone of being mean and evil but Donald Sutherland plays this in a nice way and so even though he has this underside he is mostly a nice person and his scenes are some of the best in the film. Rue’s character (Amandla Stenberg) is interesting, she is quite for most of the film and you get the feeling that she could be a potential psychopath in the games but when she speaks and becomes friends with Katniss she becomes this wonderful character and when she dies it is a real shame because you come to like her character and like several people in the contests she is just a nice person in a horrible game. The Star Attraction is Katniss though. From start to end she is a strong character and person who is only doing what she has been forced to do but will not resort to the levels of some of the other entrants and only really kills when she has to, not because she wants to, because she doesn’t. You can see a bit of resemblance between her and Jessica Biel’s character in Blade Trinity.
It is hard to forget what the contest is about, it is about the slaughter of children. It has this disturbing theme which shows the fear that the country is imposing on the people. This is the punishment for the uprising and you don’t want to get entered. When the first few contestants die they die in gruesome fashion but I don’t think it is all that bloodthirsty. But while this is the main plot of the film there are several nice sequences where it tones this down, even in the arena scenes. In the capitol scenes you get this feeling that the people are like bullies and that the way that they like the games is like entertainment for them and even when they are groomed it is like reality TV. However there are nice people and there are some scenes which represent this including the scene before the start of the games where Katniss receives her coat from her stylist and he puts on the Mockingjay badge. Even scenes in the arena where Katniss is just by herself in the trees just trying to survive have a nice style to them even the scenes with Rue have this strong nice feel to them. Scenes with Peeta and Katniss may look like the plot trying to slow down but these are the scenes which keep the film in a nice way and not a blood festival. The music helps with this as well with the end credits song showing a balance of survival and pleasantness.
The Hunger Games is an Amazing film with some nice powerful touches, A very good selection of cast and characters that work nicely together, and a story that does not get boring and all of this is brilliantly brought together by Director Gary Ross The Hunger Games has arrived at an interesting point. OK, it is more young adult than Harry Potter but now Harry Potter is not in the way The Hunger games can already enjoy its immediate success. It is a series of books as well and the sequel is already in production for 2013 so it is moving at the same speed as the Harry Potter series which means that if its success continues this could be the new Harry Potter. In fact this is better than Harry Potter. The film has only just been released and has already done very well. If you compare it to the more mainstream film John Carter which has not made profit yet The Hunger Games deserves its success. I would like to watch it again actually; I might go and read the book now. A truly wonderful film which is worth every penny, my advice to you is this, while there are other more mainstream films coming out this one is not worth missing, it is a film which you must watch. While you may not agree with its general theme it is overall a nice film and it has been a while since a film that had both an action style as well as some truly nice memorable bits was released. There are more films that I am looking forward to this year but this film is something special and should not be overlooked. To date this is my favourite film this year and with films like The Dark Knight Rises coming out (as well as The Host sequel and possibly the Legendary Pictures Godzilla film) they will have to be something even more special to do better than this. So trust me on this, go and watch The Hunger Games, it is a nice film that will be hard to beat and I am so glad that I decided to go and watch it, because it has made me so happy.
GENEPOOL (The last time a film came out and touched me like this it went straight to the top of my top 10 Non-Godzilla film list)