After much deliberation, I finally caved in and decided to see the Hunger Games. Not because I have an interest in the books or that I found the trailer to be particularly enticing, this was purely out of the online frustration that the film has seemingly generated in every corner and crevice of the internet over the past few weeks. Many have cried foul from their LCD illuminated bedsits that it is a rip-off, some say it’s average, whilst others say that there is no better way to pass an afternoon than to watch a collection of teens maliciously duke it out for survival on the big screen. As an individual who has no allegiance to either side, I thought I could clear up any comparisons and to provide my own interpretation mainly to those who were perhaps like me, and are a little bit boggled by this whole emerging phenomena.
Firstly, the Twilight comparison. Frankly if I had directed this film and had seen that heinous title plastered next to my movie, I’d have to throw up on a nearby teenage girl to restore the balance of justice. Do not for one second think this is in any way similar to Twilight. The Hunger Games is intense, imaginatively filmed and doesn’t resort to cheap slow motion body shots of the cast involved in order to keep the attention of its young teenage audience. It has an interesting concept that reflects certain issues within our own society and it isn’t afraid of pushing its 12A certificate to the very limit. The only thing Twilight pushes is your finger to the trigger.
The more understandable comparison would be with Battle Royale. A Japanese cult film that has practically the same premise of the Hunger Games with a collection of young teenagers being forced to fight to their death by a higher authority in a lovely wilderness environment. Whilst many have voiced their opinion of the Hunger Games as a direct rip-off of Battle Royale, I found there to be a largely different focus in each of the two films. Battle Royale seems to place a much stronger( and perhaps better) emphasis on the shocking situation that these teenagers are faced with, letting the 18 age certificate run wild with gore and disturbing deaths that would make even the most satanic fluster. The Hunger Games with its 12A certificate instead cleverly focuses on how this blood bath is represented in the outside world, creating some quite frankly disturbing parallels within our own set-up and reaction to reality television today. The scenes that mimic a contemporary chat show in particular I found to be just as shocking as the actual ‘games’ themselves. Jennifer Lawrence is also pretty fantastic in the central role, helping the audience believe in this frankly insane concept.
The film however does have its fair share of shortcomings. The opening 45 minutes or so seem to drag on for far too long, the shaky close-ups during the action sequences can get tiresome and I’m still not quite sold on the films vision of the future as a Gay Pride parade co-ordinated by Tim Burton. Nevertheless, its not often that a film with such an odd and disturbing premise breaks into the cultural mainstream and succeeds to the extent that this has, so for that it should be applauded. To haters who fly the Battle Royale flag, just take it easy. There’s plenty of space in the world for both films and for a sci-fi spin on the concept, you can’t go wrong with the Hunger Games.