Based on Suzanne Collins' hugely popular teen novels, a sci-fi thriller set in post-apocalyptic America that sees a young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) being drafted into a brutal, fight-to-the-death, reality TV show.
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The next Twilight? Battle Royale rip-off? Reality TV rumination? Going into the movie, I wasn’t entirely sure which angle to come at The Hunger Games from.
There's such a huge variety of touchstones here - American Idol; Big Brother; The Truman Show; The Running Man; teenage bullying; unrequited love; the one percenters vs the rest of us; professional sports - it would be an achievement simply to keep things coherent but director Gary Ross goes beyond that to create a character-focused arrow of a film that maintained my attention from start to finish.
Jennifer Lawrence ably carries the film on her shoulders, appearing in practically every scene. She projects pluck, moxie and vulnerability in equal measure. The older supporting actors do stellar work to ground the occasionally quite ridiculous-looking universe they inhabit – Lenny Kravitz and Stanley Tucci especially. Male lead Josh Hutcherson lets the side down a bit with his wooden emoting but there isn’t a complete lack of chemistry between him and Lawrence.
The lack of any gory on-screen violence (the kills are all quick cuts and close-ups) doesn’t take much away from the impact of what is occurring and there are several impressively taut action set-pieces.
The film only really lags when it stops to serve romance – did we really need two tender moments in the cave? After the climax occurs, the film hangs around for some follow-up scenes that fall a bit flat, ending the film on a somewhat muted note. But that doesn’t mean I’m not totally amped for the sequel. This movie rules.