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The Hunger Games - Film Review By A.D.Harris

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(taken from www.theadamharris.com)

The Hunger Games isn't scared to translate the brutality of its subject matter onto the screen. It's at times quite violent, dark and bleak. It also is a very visually beautiful and thought provoking vision of a world driven to extremes by the very nature of being run by the human race. This is a world where the powerful make the poor fight to the death in a "game" of survival. Donald Sutherland's President claims it is all about keeping order, about controlling the power and about intimidating the Districts who once revolted against the government. It's much more than that though. As Stanley Tucci's Caesar presents the games like the Superbowl, it feels much more close to sport than a form of order. This being a sport which sees twenty-three people dead every single year.

It tinkers around with these grand questions; would the games continue if no one watches, how immoral is it to treat a human life so carelessly and what makes an individual feel no responsibility for the deaths when they can become part of a crowd. However it clearly doesn't want to answer them yet. There are still two more novels to tackle these questions. The Hunger Games is all about creating the world, and finding the important people within it.

At the heart of those people is Katniss Everdeen. Forced to volunteer as the female representative of District 12 to save her sister, the tale is told largely from her perspective. Played by Jennifer Lawrence, Katniss is more interesting, well developed and thought provoking than Daniel Radcliffe made Harry Potter in seven attempts. It's a powerhouse of a performance, the kind you rarely get to see in such a big blockbuster, and it is this which is The Hunger Games' biggest success. She is strong, scared, clever, tough and also most importantly influential. In a world where the rich watch you fight for your life, where they get invested in your fate then influence is important. The President certainly finds himself keen to keep a close eye on such a character.

Thankfully Lawrence is backed up by a strong supporting cast of well-knowns. Tucci is hilarious as the Caesar yet he carries that eerie undertone of a man who revels in death, and Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz all portray the District 12 mentors with plenty of pathos and depth. Josh Hutcherson's Peeta is the weakest of the group, but he still finds enough to keep you invested in his fate. Sutherland's President is perhaps the films most under developed and intriguing character; intentionally set in place to add weight to the sequels.

The games themselves take a little too long to come about, the opening seventy minutes of set up drag at points, but once they arrive they pack a ton of punches, arrows and swords. It's incredibly tense and undeniably captivating, but the source material appears a little lacking in inventive sequences which is most tellingly obvious at the films conclusion. However when the pace gets moving, it's better than anything Twilight or Harry Potter came close to showing and it's these moments that linger in your mind longest.

Overall, there's a lot of things right with The Hunger Games, and even though its big questions go unanswered it feels self contained enough whilst leaving a sense of excitement for what is next. That being said, what will come next isn't laid out whatsoever, it feels very much like something is developing under the surface which you can't quite put your finger on.

In fact the film simply ends with a man furrowing his brow and looking out into the distance. You'll find yourself doing the same thing. It's going be a long wait before we are Catching Fire.



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