UK Release date: 23rd March 2012
Watched at the cinema Saturday 31st March 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I first have to admit I’ve never read the books and so this franchise is all shiny and new to me. Knowing that it is aimed at a teenage audience, I took a risk and decided to go and see a Saturday afternoon screening. The (young) audience were quite well behaved over all, although the staff did seem to take a very long time in getting something up on the screen (they was getting a bit rebellious). But when they did eventually start the film they soon settled down (after a little coaxing… from me). But back to the film, very well made with some good performances and, despite the level of violence being toned down (a lot), quite entertaining. I will give you full skinny after this brief summary.
In a future North America, now called Panem, (the rest of the world doesn’t exist for some reason) and after a civil war, a way is found to keep the defeated ‘Districts’ in tow. The Hunger Games are invented; a boy and a girl for each of the twelve districts must fight it out, to the death, until there is only one winner. The whole event is televised and broadcast across the nation with host, Caesar Flickerman, giving a blow-by-blow account. The games organiser, Seneca Crane, has the ear of the President Snow and uses his influence to make the games bigger and better each year. Now, the District we’re interested is District 12, and its contestants, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. We see the selection process and their training, with which they are aided by former champion, Haymitch Abernathy and style guru, Cinna, amongst others. See, it’s not just about training to fight, it’s all about winning the hearts and minds of the viewers (sponsors), who might send you some help during the games. And so we come to the games themselves, and this is where I’ll leave you hanging or the Spoiler Police (Futuristic Movies Division) will be entering me for the next event (even though I’m far too old!).
This is a very well made film with some nice CGI in places, although I did feel it was a little over-used in a couple of scenes. I wasn’t very impressed with the quality of the sound, although that might have been down to the equipment at my local cinema (not a multiplex). As far as performances go, well, the stand-out has to be Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen. She was ably supported by; Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane (with some extraordinary beard sculpturing), Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, Donald Sutherland as President Snow and finally, although he didn’t have a lot to say, Toby Jones as Claudius Templesmith.
There are so many similarities (in part) to other films it’s hard to know where to start. I guess ‘Battle Royalle’ is a pretty good start, although I could see influences from; ‘The Truman Show’, ‘Rollerball’ (the original one) and ‘The Running Man’ in there too. I did get the impression that there is a lot more explained in the book than there was time for on the screen because I did feel I had missed out on a few plot points here and there. These particularly surrounded the relationship between Katniss and Peeta; I won’t discuss it here as I don’t want to go putting down spoilers. Over all though, the 142 minute running time seemed to pass quite quickly (always a good sign) and so I’m happy to deem this one… Recommended.
My score: 8.2/10.
IMDb Score: 7.8/10 (based on 56,220 votes when this review was written).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 85/100 (based on 239 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 87/100 (based on 84,278 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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President Snow: And it was decreed that each year, the 12 districts of Panem should offer up a tribute of one young man and woman between the ages of 12 and 18 to be trained in the art of survival and to be prepared to fight to the death.
Katniss Everdeen: May the odds be ever in your favour.
Katniss Everdeen: So you're here to make me look pretty.
Cinna: I'm here to help you make an impression.
Rue: You have to win.