Recently, persuaded by the hype, I went to see the new movie, The Hunger Games, directed by Gary Ross who gave us Pleasantville and Seabiscuit. It is the first in a trilogy, based on the books by Suzanne Collins. Oh, a Hollywood franchise. There's something different!
The premise is set in "our" future, supposedly. But then Stanley Kubrik's iconic film said we would have a fully operational base on the moon by 2001.
Anyway, it's set many years in the future and 74 years previously, an impoverished population rose up in rebellion against their rich and powerful controllers, and lost. What we surmise is The Hunger Games is payback, and every year the losers must give up two teenagers, chosen by a lottery, to take part in a "game", which is a televised fight to the death against two others from each of a further eleven districts. The winner is the last one left alive. If you're yawning at this point, don't worry. I was too.
The film is like a mix of Roman gladiators, meets Lord of the Flies, meets Big Brother. For the fans of the latter I'm sure it will hit it's mark. For me it fell far short of any mark. I would go even as far as to say it was positively boring in parts. At two and a half hours the film was far too long and it felt as if more than 50% of the film was taken up by background and the build up to the games themselves. Now that they've set up the background to "the games", at length, I think that the next 2 films will be high up on the boredom spectrum.
Tom Stern is the cinematographer and for some reason he thought it was a good idea for almost every shot to be shaky and an extreme close up of people's nasal passages, possibly to heighten the terror, of which there wasn't any. As a result it didn't feel as if it had been shot for the cinema. I found myself turning away at points and rubbing my eyes due to the motion sickness effect it was creating.
The enormity of the participants task in the game, to basically murder each other, is not really explored. Certainly the main character appears unnerved by the prospect, briefly, but other than that it just didn't feel plausible. The action scenes are pretty much a bunch of teenagers wrestling on the ground with jerky and disjointed camera moves. Considering that the premise says that everyone has been chosen by lottery with no prior knowledge that they may be participating, most of them take it in their stride, and I just didn't buy that.
If you're a fan of reality TV and think that it plausible that one day the producers of said TV programmes will take it to an extreme when the finalists of X-Factor will have to kill each other to win (I wish), then you'll love this film.
If you're not a fan then go and see the Most Exotic Marigold Hotel. It was fab!