Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Hunger Games (2012)

Face the probability of your imminent death, and know that there's absolutely nothing I can do to help you.

For once and in a great rarity for this blog I am reviewing a current film. I will break one of my original aims regarding a certain other film, come straight out and say that this film is NOT a ripoff of Battle Royale. If you think it is you need to watch them both and leave your parents basement! I will not compare them any more.

The Hunger Games was a passable teen book. Nice and gory and quite touching in places. Not a great epic certainly but high amongst the ranks of great books and I would count it amongst some of the great teen books by authors such as Garner and Westell. Suzanne Collins message is hidden in the book by an overarching plot of burgeoning sexual intrigue amongst our youthful protagonists with a lot of mental subtext from Katniss on her feelings about the boys. One of the best changes in the movie is the removal of this. There is very little in the way of love story and the ability to decide who likes who and who is playing the system is left wide open for the viewer to decide.

So as an adaptation of the book does the film work well? I would have to say that this is a resounding yes. The sub theme of the book is bought to the fore and is outstandingly portrayed. You see the Hunger Games are based around one principle tenant. Fairness.

Peter and Katniss see this as they enter the alternate world of the capitol. The world of Panem is not poor, the technology of the Capitol is staggering but the districts are kept down in a state of abject poverty. Dissent is culled and the power of the Capitol kept by the yearly Hunger Games which are also grossly unfair. The richer, stronger, larger districts always have volunteers and although it is denied they have trained to be there. What is worse is that they are at the top range of the age of picking. This sees 18 year olds pitted against 12 year olds on many occasions. The best weapons are at the hardest place to reach and there are no allowances for the huge physical differences the age gap presents. It is just this that forces Katniss to volunteer and her excellently portrayed sister Prim would quite obviously last mere seconds in the arena.

The buildup to the games is brilliantly shown and the reluctance of Haymitch to take the games seriously is summed up in my opening quote "Face the probability of your imminent death, and know that there's absolutely nothing I can do to help you." His alcoholism is is inevitable given that every year he helps another two youngsters to their deaths.

Here we hit the crux of the obvious controversy. This movie essentially features 24 children aged 12 - 18 who fight to the death to keep their respective homelands subjugated. Its a lesson in power that is simple and brutal. Children will be upset by this film. I was upset by this film, one scene in particular where a young child, who reminds Katniss of her sister Prim, meets her inevitable end is truly heartrending. This is ably turned around by one of the additions from the book. Katniss's touching and poignant need to give her some kind of burial is a catalyst that shows exactly why the Games become so important. The very sight of her silent salute sending District 11 into a rage of rioting against their overlords. This horrible event has at least some effect and we see the beginning of the end for the Capitol and President Snow. 

I loved The Hunger Games, the removals were not missed, the additions made sense and the changes were understandable and minimal. In essence I believe the film eclipses the book and that in itself is a rare thing.

Well worth a visit to the flicks. An outstanding Sci-Fi amongst a recent sea of dross.

Paul Out..... and May the Odds Be Forever in Your Favour.

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