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The Hunger Games (DVD)

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  • Shocking Moments
  • Good Acting
  • First Act Too Long
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    30 Reviews
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      04.04.2014 15:10
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      • "Good Acting"
      • "Looks Great"

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      • "First Act Too Long"

      A brilliant futuristic film

      The Hunger Games is set in a totalitarian, dystopian near future where in retaliation to a kind of ?Peasants Revolt? against the government and capital an annual tournament is held where only the last survivor lives.

      Each district must send two to fight in the tournament, this is called ?the reaping? the worst part of this is that it's just children who are ?reaped?. Who is selected is taken by lottery. The battles are shown on TV as a kind of sadistic entertainment and as a way of putting the people in their place.

      The tournament is brutal and manipulated by the show runners, in a similar way to the Truman Show. Katniss Everdeen from district 12 volunteers in place of her much younger sister, Primrose, and along with a male contender Peeta Mellark are sent for training and eventually transported into the games.

      The star here is relative newcomer Jennifer Lawrence who I believe has done an excellent job. You really feel for her emotionally, as her sisters name is called and later on as very young children are terrorised and worse in the name of entertainment.

      Co-star here is Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, a very reluctant and kind of weedy teenager who I kind of had mixed feeling about. He is a good guy really but a bit cowardly.

      Donald Sutherland is the big name here, but is hardly on screen. He is of course a massive on screen presence and despite limited screen time, you really know he is bad and unredeemable.

      The special effects are very good here, especially during the games, there is quite a lot of CGI but it's not overused. It's a good looking film for sure.

      My main criticism is the film's length, the first act is quite a bit too long. I think 15-20 mins could be trimmed off the start with little or no loss to the film as a whole. It's also derivative of many othe films, especially ?Battle Royale? and ?The Running Man?.

      I would definitely recommend checking it out, I look forward to watching the sequel

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      19.02.2014 22:10
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      Amazing movie!

      The Hunger Games movie is the first movie of the Hunger Games series, taken from the book written by Suzanne Collins.
      I didn't get to watch this movie in the cinema as at first I thought it wasn't exactly my sort of thing. I never read the books and from what I heard from friends the book wasn't very good. When I booked tickets for the new movie "Catching Fire" I had to see the first movie to know what was going on and who everyone was, well all I know is I regretted not watching it sooner than only a few months back. IT'S A FANTASTIC MOVIE!
      I loved every second of it, although some parts are a bit gory and that really isn't my thing to be honest but I was hooked from the beginning to end and even at the end I wanted more. Once you watch it you will be hooked and just want more, The actors/actresses play their parts very well and the characters all suit the actors.

      ~~~MINI PLOT~~~
      It's the future and the hunger games takes us to a place named as "Panem", North America. After a destruction of the continents civilization the people went in uproar and started rioting for an unknown reason. The nation has the wealthy Capitol and around it is separated into 12 districts which are poor and in need of food, drink and every day essentials in need to survive. The Captiol has all 12 districts under complete control.
      Under Control meaning each year one girl and one boy at the ages of 12-18years old are chosen from each district by random a lot like the national lottery. Both male and female have to work together and compete against the other districts in fighting to the death for freedom, unfortunately as much as they work together in the districts as a team only one can claim the freedom as a winner.
      This movie follows a 16 year old girl named Katniss Everdeen, a young girl from District 12 who has no choice but to volunteer in the 74th annual Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, Primrose Everdeen. The other tribute is a boy named Peeta Mellark, a former schoolmate of Katniss, despite her not remembering him at first until she remembers he was the one who once gave her bread from his family's bakery when her family were in desperate need.
      Both Katniss and Peeta are rushed off without being able to say goodbye to their families or friends and pushed into intense training with other districts which is where they have to train on their specialist move. Although they're both told strictly not to show their moves to the other districts Katniss gets rather angry that some other districts laugh at peeta for looking like he has no special ability and gets him to unleash his speciality which is super strength.......
      ~~~THE END~~~


      ~~~CAST LIST~~~
      Jennifer Lawrence = Katniss Everdeen
      Josh Hutcherson = Peeta Mellark
      Liam Hemsworth = Gale Hawthorne
      Stanley Tucci = Caesar Flickerman
      Wes Bentley = Seneca Crane
      Lenny Kravitz = Cinna


      ~~~ADDITIONAL INFORMATION~~~
      Written By: Suzanne Collins, Gary Ross, Billy Ray
      Directed By: Gary Ross
      Running Time: 2hr. 22 mi
      Age Rating: PG, 13
      Cinema Release: Mar 23, 2012
      DVD Release: Aug 8, 2012
      US Box Office: £408M
      Genre: Drama, Mystery&Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy

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      23.01.2014 01:41
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      A good film

      **Film only review**

      My latest rental film was The Hunger Games, I had chosen this as I had heard a bit about it and it had been recommended by my brother. The film is based on the first in a series of books, that I've not read.

      **The plot**
      The basic story is the world, Panem is divided into districts, and following an uprising the Hunger games were devised as a way to punish the districts. Each district must send 2 children between 12 and 18 to take part in the games, the twist being the winner is the last person alive from the 12 districts (i.e 23 will be killed or die from the weather etc.) Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is our heroine, a young girl from district 12, who volunteers for the games after her sister is picked. The male contestant from district 12 is Peeta Mallark (Josh Hutcherson), and he is pretty much the male lead, although the star is definitely Katniss. The film progresses from them being picked, trained and to them taking part in the games, I'll not say anymore as I don't want to spoil it.

      **What did I think?**
      I enjoyed this film, although parts of it do feel slow. The games reminded me of big brother, and I can't help wondering if that's how big brother will be in 20 years time, lots of cameras watching people kill each other for entertainment. The film shows quite well the striking difference between the poverty of the districts and the opulence of the centre, and this made me root more for the districts and Katniss more. I didn't particularly like the character of Peeta he seemed a bit whiny and selfish :) I felt the acting was good especially by Jennifer Lawrence who played Katniss, I thought she portrayed the right mix of courage, survival skills and innocence. I also thought the camera work was good, and the films pace while not quick was ok. My husband though did say he thought it went on a bit in places, and even for me there were parts where you were waiting for something to happen.

      That said when the next film in the series comes out I will be ordering it :)

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      10.01.2014 17:14
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      A good adaptation on film from the book

      Introduction

      I enjoyed reading the book of the first part of the Hunger Games series so much that I asked for the DVD of the film version for Christmas. I don't have a clear opinion about whether book or film versions of a story are preferable, instead I judge each on its own merits. I enjoyed watching this film just as much as I enjoyed reading the book, but I do think I experienced them both in the right order - book first then film as having the background knowledge from the book filled in one or two gaps that the two and a bit hours of film couldn't cover.

      The film

      I'll start with a brief description of the concept of the Hunger Games for those who haven't seen this film. Each year, 12 districts must make a tribute of one boy and girl aged 12-18 at a ceremony known as the Reaping. These tributes are sent to the Capitol as punishment for an uprising years ago, one which the Capitol brutally squashed. Once at the Capitol, the tributes take part in the Hunger Games, a last man standing fight to the death which forces the children to kill or be killed. The sole remaining tribute is the winner and gets awarded a large amount of food and gifts for their district, hence the name.

      The main character is Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence. She is District 12's female tribute and is accompanied by Peeta, a baker's son who has a small but not insignificant past with Katniss in the district.

      Once in the arena, there is some violence in the film - enough to warrant the 12 certificate but I wouldn't say that it is overly graphic and excessive. I won't be explicit enough to say how Katniss does in the arena herself, but there are two more instalments to the series so you can probably work that one out for yourself!

      For people who, like me, have read the book first before seeing the film, there are some differences in how the story is portrayed on film from the book that caused me a little bit of a niggle whilst watching it. The differences I noticed are:

      - The Mocking Jay brooch was given to Katniss in the book by Madge, the mayor of District 12's daughter, but in the film she buys it from the market.

      - Haymitch doesn't cause the drunken disgrace at the reaping in the film which he does in the book. Quite disappointing, as I thought it added flavour to his character in the book.

      - In the film, Katniss doesn't play the starving, wide eyed bumpkin in the city at her interview with Caesar (a bit like a Davina McCall presenter figure for the Hunger Games) by banging on about how nice the food is in the Capitol, yet she does in the book.

      - Also, it is way after the hour mark before "Fox Face" gets a mention during the arena phase, yet in the book Katniss identifies her during the build up training at the Capitol prior to entering the arena.

      - A bit like Peter Jackson completely omitting the encounter with Tom Bombadil from his film interpretation of The Fellowship of the Ring, there is absolutely no reference in this film to the encounter Katniss has with the mute servant in the Capitol that she had seen from an illicit hunting party outside the perimeter fence of her district one day.

      - The last jarring difference I noticed between the book and film's version of events is that in the film there is no gift of bread to Katniss from District 11 after she laid Rue's body out with wild flowers. In the book this was a very moving moment and I think would have added to the film.

      My Opinion

      If you have read the book and want to see if the film is just as good, then provided you can overlook or forgive the above differences (or any others which I've failed to spot) then you might also find it very enjoyable to watch, I did. In fact, I went straight onto the internet which cinemas are showing the second film. The question now is, do I read the second book first or just go for it and watch the film?

      I thought Jennifer Lawrence played the role of Katniss very well and was both believable and compelling to watch. I thought she came across on screen just as the character of Katniss does in the book - a little bit gruff and awkward with people due to her hard life in District 12. Also, Woody Harellson was very good in the role of Haymitch - even though in my mind's eye whilst reading the book I had imagined him to look like a dishevelled version of Franny Lee (google him!) whilst Mr Harellson is a lot taller and leaner, but in all other respects he played that part just how I'd imagined Haymitch to be.

      I thought the suspense of being stalked in the arena was very well portrayed in the film, in the book the sense of being hunted in a deadly game of hide and seek was one of the aspects that kept me gripped and it's just as good with the film.

      I wouldn't say that to have read the book prior to watching the film was a necessity in order to understand the film, so I would recommend that most people who just a tale well told would enjoy watching the film - it's just a very good and gripping story. Five stars from me, thanks for reading.

      Available brand new in DVD format on Amazon for £5.

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        29.03.2013 12:30
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        Loved this movie!

        After reading the Hunger Games trilogy, I couldn't wait to see the movie and so I quickly added it to my lovefilm DVD rental list. I always prefer to read the book first and then watch the movie rather than the other way round and I definitely was looking forward to this movie as it is based on the first part of the Hunger Games trilogy which I really enjoyed reading.

        I'm not sure what I was expecting as some movie adaptations if not most, don't live up to the books they were based on. But I was looking forward to seeing a book that I really liked being brought to life, and I was not disappointed. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised. If you already know a bit about the Hunger Games you will know that the story revolves around a futuristic North America, now called Panem which is a collection of 12 Districts. Each year the 'Capitol', who governs all 12 Districts holds the Games, in which a girl and boy aged between 12 and 18 are forced to enter an arena and fight until just a single victor remains. The Games are brutal and an evil way to remind each District that the Capitol is in charge. The Games are a way to instil fear in the public and keep them under control.

        One of the main reasons I liked the movie so much was that it handled the matter of the power of the Capitol in such a serious way. In some of the early scenes of the movie I felt like I was watching old television news footage of dictatorship, particularly when all the children are being lined up for the 'reaping' before the Games. It really made me quite emotional as it just seemed so unfair that young children should be forced in to an arena of death and just because of a government that wants to remind people who the boss is.

        The movie really did a good job at bringing out some of the darker moments in the book, and at times I did feel quite emotional. For example, some of the deaths during the Games (I won't say who just in case you don't know what happens) had an impact on me.

        One of the best things about the film was the lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence, who played the part of Katniss Everdeen. She did a great job and I found myself liking Katniss even more than I did in the book. This is the first movie I have seen starring Jennifer Lawrence and I have the feeling she will do very well and that she has a bright future in acting ahead of her.

        The only tiny criticism I have is that once or twice I found myself wondering whether I would have been able to follow the movie if I hadn't read the book. Obviously I can't be sure as I have read the book and already knew the story well but there were times where I thought that maybe someone who hadn't read the book might not be completely sure of what was happening.

        Like all movies that are based on books, there are a lot of details that get missed and other details that get changed. Anything missed or changed in this movie was understandable as a movie lasts 2 hours (this was just over 2 hours long in fact) whereas a book can be hundreds of pages long. The main thing that I thought was missing was the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale - I think it was a lot more obvious in the book and didn't really come across very strongly in the movie. Having said that, I generally think this movie was adapted brilliantly and would most definitely recommend it to others.

        Thanks for reading!

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          22.02.2013 17:41
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          I love it

          I was recommended to read The Hunger Games by a friend. I thought she was being crazy when I read the blurb, it was not my kind of book at all! I put off reading it for ages, really didn't think I would like it but then one day when I began reading it I realised she was right, it was a good book. I loved it and then had to read the next two at once! What a brilliant book! When I knew it was made into a film I put off watching it. Whenever I have watched films which are based on books I've been very disappointed and felt quite sad by how different the two were so I didn't want to watch the film! I thought it may ruin my vision of the book! I put it off for ages but eventually did watch it the other day and oh my goodness I was not disappointed at all! It is the only book I've read that has been changed into a film and stayed true to the original! There is nothing extra added in here, nothing altered, it is all as it should be and it's fantastic!

          The story

          This is a really far-stretched version of the reality tv shows we see today! It is so extreme yet it is slightly believable. The story is based on a girl called Katniss who lives in District 12. The country (we don't know which) is broken down into 12 districts all of which are governed by The Capital. The Capital keep the districts in check and each year a reaping occurs where the children of the districts are called up to take part in The Hunger Games.

          The Hunger Games is set in a large arena and is televised. The 24 contestants (1 boy and 1 girl from each district) have to battle it out until there is only one survivor. This survivor is then sent back to their capital and hailed a hero.

          Katniss of District 12 ends up going to the arena when her sister is called up to be part of The Games. Katniss instead goes on her behalf along with Peta from her district. It is clear that the districts are poor, that they all have to work really hard to survive and find food. There are no luxuries in the districts at all but The Capital is so different! The Capital is full of glamour, people with brightly coloured faces, wild hair, the most elaborate of outfits you have ever seen. There is no expense spared in terms of anything! It really is like another world.

          Before they enter the arena the contestants are paraded in front of the audience and it is aired across The Capital and the districts. The hype around the Games is huge. The contestants undergo make overs, are interviewed, have training practices to try to better themselves and to win sponsors from the viewers. It all sounds so extreme but compare it to today when we watch reality TV and it's not all that different really just obviously to a more extreme degree!

          The contestants enter the arena and have to fight it out. There are strange goings on, people begin to make pacts and alliances but there is always the knowledge that eventually only one person will survive. Watching Katniss and Peta in the arena is really interesting to see, to watch their relationship develop and see how it wins sponsors which then help them to get through.

          The actors

          Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss and I think this is a good casting. She isn't a glamorous looking actress but more of a naturally beautiful girl who is just perfect for the role. I really like that she isn't a really well known character so we can see her as a fresh person and really be drawn into her character instead of associating her with someone else. Her acting was brilliant, the expressions on her face was very believable and the way she portrayed Katniss was great, it didn't spoil my visions of the character I'd formed in my head from the book. Josh Hutcherson plays Peta and although he was different looking to how I imagined I think he played the part well and I soon got my head around him looking different to how I thought he would be, I had thought he would be quite geeky when actually he was rather attractive! I soon got used to it though!! The other actors within this film were brilliant, they all were true to the book and played the parts brilliantly, there wasn't a line that was delivered which I doubted, everyone was brilliant in this.

          The Blood Bath

          I was very concerned that this book would be turned into an all-action blood bath in which it would be one of those films that is all about fighting and very little else. I think this was my main reason why I put off watching this for so long, I don't like films all about fighting and because this is based around people killing each other to survive I thought it may focus too much on it but it really didn't! It was more about the morals, the people, the extremes and there was very little in terms of a blood bath. There were a few instances where we watched people get killed but it was filmed in a way which was, strangely enough, tasteful! It was fantastic to see this not be taken too far as it could easily do so.

          Negatives

          One negative I have with this is the relationships were a little unclear. In the book Katniss has a very close relationship to Cinna- her stylist. In the film it is made out to be like a love affair whereas the book is more of a friendship. In the book I saw Cinna as a camp character and a very good friend to Katniss but the film was more misleading, if you hadn't read the book you may believe that there was something sexual between them. The relationship between Katniss and Peta is a complicated one and it wasn't quite portrayed perfectly in the film. Peta loves Katniss and Katniss appears to love Peta but it is actually an act- they have to try to win sponsors and the love affair between them is winning them money and so they are told to carry it on. Peta isn't acting but Katniss is and in the book it is clear that Peta doesn't know that Katniss is acting, however, in the film it is confusing. I found myself wondering if Katniss was acting or not and so I can see if you haven't read the book you may think that they really are both in love so I think this should have been made a little more clear unless it was the aim of the director to make it be so confusing... either way this isn't something I was too happy with.

          Positives

          This film stayed completely true to the book. There was not one new story line or twist added which I was so pleased with. It was perfectly adapted. When I read the book I couldn't imagine how they could possibly make it into a film as it was so complex and it is great to see that it was done so really well and accurately. I definitely was not disappointed with it. I liked that it wasn't just focussed around a blood bath either as this could have been easy to do. The acting was all absolutely fantastic, I was really drawn in by it all, I couldn't have a break for a moment which is not like me, usually in films I get bored and distracted but during this film I was completely drawn in. It was brilliantly acted.

          Conclusion

          This is a brilliant adaptation from book to film. Despite a tiny criticism about the portrayal of a few relationships I really enjoyed watching this and was really relieved to see it stayed true to the book. It is a very interesting story line which will make you think about just how much we devour celebrities and that perhaps this is not actually all that an extreme situation when you do consider it. I really recommend this, it's great!

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            10.11.2012 14:50

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            Lot of hype but just not enough action for me.

            This film was one of those that could have been amazing, they had the right set, the right ideas but i just do not believe they pulled it off in the film.

            It started out good with all the different cities and one from each to be chosen for the game but i feel here they could have improved on it by giving us some more background on what the cities are about and what was going on. I feel at the start of the film the viewers dont really know what its all about and we dont know what were kind of watching, only what its building up too.

            I guess i kind of like the fact that they chose to add a romance in there and i like the fact that they didnt go into the lovey dovey stuff in there, just because that doesnt really appeal to the target audience. As far as the actual game goes when they get into the field and start the game i feel its just too short and the build up is just too long, by the time it gets to the game your like 75% through the film and it simply doesnt last long enough. Even though as long as the game lasted was good to watch.

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            30.10.2012 13:03
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            A very good dystopian film

            The hunger games is an adaptation of Suzanne Collins bestselling book, the first part in a trilogy, it is set in a dystopian near future set in North America (or at least the actors have American accents). The main characters are from District 12, a coal mining district ruled by the distant decadent Capitol, the district is very poor and emphasis is placed on toughness and the ability to hunt for game. Every year there is the Hunger games, an event in which one son and one daughter from each district are taken and placed in an arena to fight it out to the death. The hunger games are used by the ruling dynasty to maintain control over the populace and a good show is required without any hint of trouble. The film begins with the introduction of the main character Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), she is 18 and fiercely independent, and when her sister is picked as one of the chosen for the games she volunteers in her place.

            Along with Katniss, Peeta the local baker's son is chosen and are transported to the Capitol for training. There is a clear message in the film, all the young participants in the Hunger games are fit, and toned, and rouged, good looking but the inhabitants of Capitol are effeminate, over dressed and quick to live an overtly decadent lifestyle. The ruling elite (Panem) view the members of the districts as potential trouble makers and almost Communist in their views, they firmly believe in the better good with them as the controlling hand. The use of the white costumes for the military police has echoes of the classic Seventies film Logan's run, and the film quickly places the viewer on the side of the poor and downtrodden rather than the rich and powerful. The precise nature of the wars which Panem elude to as a reason for the districts and the games aren't explored in this film but are mentioned as being bloody and violent, again hints of 1984 and the ministry of propaganda and do you believe those in charge?

            The rest of the film is taken up with fairly standard survival mode stuff, all training, selection for this, tactics, fights, love, humour, honour and betrayal. There is plenty of blood, gore and fighting and a chance for the absurdity of the games to imprint on the viewer, I mean a 12 year old girl against an 18 year old man? These aside and the clear use of sharp lines and styles for the rich and decadent and a more subtle earth colour scheme for the poor contests all add to the contrast between good honest peasant stock attached to the land and more aware of life in general and the pampered elite.

            This is a good film, Jennifer Lawrence is a brilliant lead she is very pretty, toned, looks good in everything she wears and gives a suitably melancholic performance as the heroine of the tale. There is plenty of chance for her to show her physical capabilities and the cutting of the ant nest a particularly gruesome highlight. The rest of the cast do their parts justice, Woody Harrelson almost steals the film as the drunken advisor to Katniss but the true star turn is the brilliant Stanley Tucci as the show's host the blue haired over the top Caesar Flickerman. He delivers my favourite line when he describes the final killing in one of the previous hunger games as his personal favourite moment.

            The film of course leaves us on a cliffhanger and we are now ready for the two sequels to find out more about the districts, Katniss and the Capitol.

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            25.10.2012 11:49
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            Suprisingly good

            Star - Jennifer Lawrence
            Genre - Sci-Fi
            Run time - 142 minutes
            Country - USA
            Rental - £3.50 per night@blockbusters
            Amazon - £10.00 to buy (double disc)
            -----------------------------------------------

            So, The Hunger Games, the film version of the extremely popular young adult sci-fi fantasy book, the first of an equally cherished trilogy and sequels to come after the huge success of this film. The fact a book about young children fighting to a gruesome death in a gladiatorial style game is so popular with kids and crime fiction has now overtaken the romance genre for public library popularity suggests the template for this grim reality is being plotted right now in those bedrooms for our dystopian years to come.

            The anticipation for the film version was huge around the world and it broke box-office records for opening day receipts for a first film in a series. It was the first movie since Avatar to hold top spot for four straight weeks in N.America, where it did the third highest ever business on opening weekend with $153 million dollars at the multiplexes. As it only cost $78million to make in comparison to its $700 million return it could well be in the top ten grossing films of all time, and that's just the cinema releases. It was the highest ever opening on a non holiday weekend in America. It also saved Lionsgate Films, who had not had a hit for five years and mortgaged everything to the tune of $88 million to get the film rites and make it look good, the studio all but trading bust when principal stills and filming began.

            Author Susanne Collins main appeal to the readers seems to be its emancipated female hero, Katniss Everdeen, the new generation of young women increasing demanding macho traits in their female heroines, Lizbeth Salander's from the Dragon Tattoo trilogy another brooding celebrated feminist icon of our changing times. Thirty years ago it would be Jackie Magazine and Top of the Pops and now they want vampires, serial killers and Big Brother with guns!

            There has been criticism that the books, and so the film, borrowed heavily from a brilliant Japanese film called Battle Royale and another famous book called The Lottery, similar themes of exaggerated reality TV and the desensitizing of our youth omnipresent there. I can also recall a low budget film called 'Series 7' that reminds me a lot of this. But that's not to say Hunger Games is just a cheap copy, far from it, a fabulous action movie experience to be had here in its own right. And with three more films to come this could well be one of the great cinema trilogies of all time cash wise. Its very good indeed.


            ---The Cast---


            Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
            Paula Malcomson as Mrs. Everdeen
            Willow Shields as Primrose Everdeen
            Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark
            Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy
            Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket
            Lenny Kravitz as Cinna
            Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman
            Donald Sutherland as President Coriolanus Snow

            The other contenders...

            Wes Bentley.... as Seneca Crane
            Amandla Stenberg.... as Rue
            Alexander Ludwig.... as Cato
            Isabelle Fuhrman.... as Clove
            Jack Quaid.... as Marvel
            Leven Rambin.... as Glimmer
            Toby Jones as Claudius.... Templesmith
            Dayo Okeniyi... as Thresh
            Jacqueline Emerson.... as Foxface
            Liam Hemsworth as.... Gale Hawthorne


            ---The Plot---


            Narrated through the withered voice of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), we are introduced to the post-apocalyptic world of Panem, a dystopian future in what used to be North America many decades from now as the world has regressed, not told the reason for the apocalypse.

            The capital, a lavish modern metropolis, ruled by President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland), holds political power over the 12 districts. But the 74th annual Hunger Games are approaching and an exciting time for the capital, alive with anticipation and color. But it's a nervous time for the 12 districts, the compulsory selection process underway for the brutal gladiatorial contest to come.

            Each of the 12 Districts must cough up two juvenile challengers between the ages of 12 and 18, known as the tributes. Most entrants are drawn from a lottery and the more people who enter the lottery the less chance they have of being picked and the more food they get from the autocratic all-seeing government. The people living as peasants outside of the main metropolis are permanently hungry and so have no choice but to offer themselves up, their punishment for their recent uprising. The problem for the tributes is there can be only one winner, the last one standing, and the game over when everyone else is dead in the forested game zone, the victorious boy or girl returning to their village and hailed a hero, their train laden with food. Give the people hope as the solution to fear is the familiar autocrat's motto.

            In the richer districts the contestants want to enter and have been training hard for the honor, a different kind of hunger, fighting for the glory and status of their districts. But this year impoverished underdogs District 12 have a contender, that of Everdeen, a fine shot with bow and arrow and great hunting skills, who volunteers to fight in the place of her little sister Primrose (Willow Shields) when she is picked from the lottery, Eva promising to return as her family weeps live on TV. She is joined by male tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the boy drawn from the same lottery and village of District 12. They have a history but no ones telling just yet.

            All are delivered to the capital in lavish luxury, where they are scrubbed up and treated like Gods and awarded a mentor, the 50th Hunger Games winner and drunkard Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harreleson) assigned to Eva and Peet. But when he sobers up he starts to warm to the challenge and the kids, telling them the value of earning sponsors before the games and the tricks of the trade to survive. Two thirds normally die of exposure and so best to avoid early weapons fights with superior competitors and go for the rewards from the sponsors during the game, like extra food and vital medicine for the wounds and attacks to come.

            After some basic training and TV interviews to pitch their skills and physical appeal and bravado to earn those sponsors the games begins, the kids lifted up in 24 tubes to face the terrifying battlefield, early casualties in a brutal first ten minutes, a cannon sounding for every kill. Eve wisely flees to the woods with her supplies to try and stay alive in the territory she understands best, playing the long game. But alliances are soon formed and the body count rises in favor of the richer districts, not fair sides, Eva in desperate need of a friend or two of her own to make it to the end and back to her treasured sister.


            ---The Result---

            It's the Trueman Show meets Battle Royale with a bit of 1984 and V for Vendetta in the middle sponge, a sprinkling of femine hundreds and thousand on top, and so I'm surprised on just how much I loved it, being a grown up man, allegedly. Jennifer Lawrence is stunning in the lead in so many ways and I can see why the girls pull for their hero here, the second celebrated film where she is separated from her parents and shoots squirrels in the woods to survive, Winters Bone the other, where she was nominated for an Oscar. A racial element has been added to that empowering feminism to increase the ethnic mix in the multiplexes and emphasize reasons for a possible revolution in the book. Happily there isn't a vampire in sight. Critics grumbled about that racial side of things and also the casting of the sexy body of Jennifer Lawrence, not fitting to the starvation her character suffers, but perhaps missing the point that her hunting skills with her bow means she always eats well and gets the boy. What the book is about is where young women are heading, why they love the books. Who needs a boyfriend when they can be like her? Beyonce tells them on their Ipods through pop that boys mean only broken hearts and so they can buy her records for solace instead?

            The 12a certificate raised an eyebrow or two, like when Roger Moore first opened the letter with the royalty's cheque for 50 years of Bond. The big shock is just how violent this is and how on earth it got a 12a certificate from the BBFC. The kids have bought the books and so they want to see the film, seems to be the answer. The fact the Hunger Games pre ticket sales were higher than the Twilight trilogy was probably another reason. Again if this is what the kids are reading then the Hunger Games could well happen thirty years from now live on Channel 5. The equivalent to Big Brother in Roman times was those gladiators battling to the death to keep the same masses entertained.

            Another moan from the critics is director Gary Ross's wobbly camera style although for me that bought home the pure terror of the kids impending doom, building the tension, kids about to kill kids very visceral on screen in any form. Although the camera isn't too graphic on that it's still quite edgy and real. This is a powerful and compelling film and not one to miss, however old you are. I would not let your kids watch it if they are under 13.


            ---Ratings---

            Imdb.com - 7.3/10.0 (251,456 votes)
            Metacritc.com - 67% critic's approval
            Rottentomatos.com - 85% critic's approval


            ----Critics----
            USA Today - 'Like the select participants of its savage sport, The Hunger Games stands triumphant, if scarred and a bit wobbly from the contest'.

            The Guardian -'There's no doubt that there are lots of elements here that have been seen before but this still manages to carve enough of an identity for itself to be intriguing, exciting and - on the odd occasion - compelling'.

            The St Louis Bugle - 'While the 12A rating renders any serious violence a tad impotent, there is much more going on here than the fawning and frowning of its soppy vampire peer'.

            Sci-Fi Magazine - 'The new Twilight? We don't think so. This is much better'.

            New Yorker - 'Here's the movie for which millions of young fans have been starving for.
            -----------------------------------

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              04.10.2012 21:26
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              A good film version

              I resisted reading The Hunger Games trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins for ages as I thought they were a Battle Royale rip off for children but when I actually read them I had to change my view as they kept me completely gripped. I had missed seeing The Hunger Games film adaptation when it was out in cinemas as I wasn't into the books yet at that point, but once it came out on DVD I was keen to watch. When browsing the on demand TV with our new Virgin package I saw that the Hunger Games was available to watch for £3.99 so I rented it from there today.

              Most people reading this will probably already have an idea of what the Hunger Games is about but for those who don't I will summarise it very briefly. It is set in a dystopian future country called Panem which is split into districts led by the Capitol. Years ago the districts tried to rebel and failed. As a reminder of that now each year a brutal game show is held on TV. Two young people from each district, a boy and a girl, are randomly selected and put into an arena to fight to the death and only one victor may remain. Katniss Everdeen is the main character and she volunteers to take part in the games to take the place of her younger sister wo is selected. We see her progress along with the boy from her district, Peeta Mellark.

              Obviously the film has to miss some bits from the book as it has time constraints and cannot possibly be as detailed. Bearing that in mind, I was pleased there was ample time devoted to the events before the actual games begin. For the first hour of the film, we see the "reaping" where the tributes (players) are selected, get to know district 12 and see where Katniss comes from, and we see the life in the Capitol where Katniss and Peeta are taken to train. I felt this was fairly true to the book. The stark contrast between the luxury and excess in the Capitol and the life of poverty in the outer districts was visually shown quite clearly as we see the sick excitement of those who see the games as a sport and entertainment, compared with the fear of all the district 12 children waiting for the reaping. District 12 is always shown in very grey and grim colours. The reaping scene is very emotional and we clearly see the bond between Katniss and her sister, as Katniss volunteers to take her place. The one omission which I have seen people complaining about is the story of how Katniss got her mocking jay badge. This was simplified to remove an extra character and make it shorter. Personally I did not have a problem with this.

              There was some attempt to show the back story between Katniss and Peeta but I feel this may have been a bit unclear for anyone who has not read the book. In the book the past story about Peeta giving her some bread was very clear and often referred to but in the film there were just some slightly confusing flashbacks until it is referred to very much later. The relationship and confusion between the two, whether to trust each other, what they are really thinking etc was shown quite well, and the conflict between Katniss feelings for Peeta and her old friend Gale was hinted at but not developed in depth.

              Once the games in the arena begin, the film becomes action packed. There are impressive effects such as the fire that sweeps through the arena after Katniss. Also we clearly see how the game makers are manipulating everything in the arena, by designing every detail e.g. moving a tree into Katniss' path, setting the fire, placing obstacle in their way. I think it's quite a shocking idea and it works well on film.

              Some of the other tributes are not developed as much as in the book but that is to be expected. The most important relationship in the arena, apart from with Peeta, was that with Rue and this was done well. Rue is a little girl who is picked as tribute and she forms an alliance with Katniss. Katniss seems to take to her as she reminds her of her younger sister. It is quite emotional how this relationship is shown and it came across genuinely. I was impressed with Jennifer Lawrence, the actress who plays Katniss.

              As Katniss and Peeta start to work together, we see their potential relationship developing more. The action continues and there is suspense throughout up until the end.

              I would definitely recommend this film, although as it is quite emotional at times and deals with death and violence I would say it is not really a children's film and is not suitable for younger children. The film is classified 12 with I think is about right. There is no bad language or sex or anything in it and I think the rating is purely for the subject matter and violence.

              I preferred the book but I do think this is a very good film adaptation of it.

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                02.10.2012 17:46
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                A fun and imaginative film which will have you on the edge on your seat.

                My daughter (12) saw this film first. "It's the best film I've ever seen" she said. At her insistence I bought the DVD. I hadn't read the book at the time so all new.

                Without spoiling the plot the film is set in the future where the "world?" is divided into 12 districts ruled by "the Capitol". The Capitol demands that each year a young man and women, some technically children, are selected from each district to take part in the "games". The game takes place in an "arena", where they are put into a survival situation. The winner is the one that survives...

                For me the film is plot driven and although there is an attempt to create understanding of the main character, a young girl selected from her district, it doesn't quite work well enough for her to be a compelling character. Still, you can't help but sympathise at her predicament...

                I found the beginning a bit slow but it picks up once the "game" starts. Then it's a rollercoaster of fun and had me on the edge of my seat. At the end I was intrigued enough to go back and watch it again in case I had missed anything.

                Think Rollerball where everyone is an enemy or The Running Man by Stephan King (as Richard Bachman). However, this film has been made with youngsters in mind so, although there is obviously a lot of killing it's not graphic in its depiction. I believe the book has a more serious point to make but that doesn't come across in the film. On the whole it's an imaginative film and plenty of fun.

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                  19.09.2012 13:50
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                  Watchable but not particularly entertaining.

                  The Hunger Games [12]
                  Released: 2012, Run-time: 142 minutes, Genre: Action/Adventure/Science Fiction.
                  Film only review.

                  Plot Synopsis
                  In a world divided into districts, governed by the Capitol and controlled by the Peace Keepers, 24 children, 12 boys and 12 girls will be chosen at random during 'The Reaping' and will fight to the death in a televised 'game show' designed to oppress the people and assert the authority of the Capitol. There can only be one winner of The Hunger Games.

                  It is the 74th Hunger Games and the children of District 12 anxiously await to hear their fate. Chosen at random, Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields) is announced as District 12's female 'tribute'. In an attempt to save the life of her younger sister 16 year old Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her place. An expression of love that appears alien in the totalitarian world of Panem. Katniss alongside Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), District 12's male 'tribute' head to the Capitol where they witness a lifestyle vastly different to the one at home. The Capitol contrasts starkly to the poverty stricken District 12. Everything in the Capitol glimmers, including the people and in particular their chaperone Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks). It is in the Capitol that Katniss and Peeta meet with their stylist, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) and their mentor, former Games winner and long term drunk Haymitch (Woody Harrelson). It is Haymitch and Cinna's job to prepare the duo for the realities of the battlefield but also to 'sell' the duo to the sponsors. Sponsors provide parcels to the tributes throughout the games and so how likeable you are or how well you sell yourself my play a vital role in your chances of survival. As Katniss, Peeta and the 22 other tributes prepare for battle there is only one question on everyone's mind. Who will win The Hunger Games?

                  The Review
                  I feel like I may get lynch mobbed but I didn't like this film. It has been massively over hyped and I found it a little bit boring. Having said that I am writing this as someone who hasn't read the books and from what I can gather this film is the set up for a much bigger storyline so I am being open minded about it and I will probably watch the rest of the films and will read the books as I feel that books are generally better than the films. My point is that I knew nothing about The Hunger Games prior to this film and this film didn't entertain me- I don't think the film was designed to get people involved in the trilogy, I think it was made for people already involved and that have read the books.

                  Why didn't I like it? I don't think it explained much about how this dystopian world was created, why everything is so different and who the capitol are. I felt like I was thrown into something I was expected to have knowledge of. I really enjoy a dystopian fantasy and I'm all about science fiction and so I've read Orwell's 1984 and seen Battle Royale and I feel like this was trying to be both but with none of the conviction. I know that the trilogy is classed as 'youth fiction' and I think this is where it falls apart. It has to be palatable for a youth audience but I think the concept of 'kill or be killed' and the exploration of what humans are capable of is an adult theme and so I feel it was dumbed down to fit the target audience. A great idea but I felt it was badly executed and has been done before. Knowing that this is part of a trilogy almost excuses it's lack of explanation as part of me is expecting the latter instalments to fill in the gaps. Anyone who has read the books or seen the film will know that there is a hint of a romantic storyline which leads me to think that is the direction in which the plot is heading and I feel that it may be jumping on the 'romance against the odds bandwagon' created by the Twilight enterprise and isn't something I would enjoy. So, my first impression of, The Hunger Games franchise didn't draw me in and I think the producers of the film maybe missed a trick there but it's not all doom and gloom some elements of the film were good.

                  I enjoyed the characters and although I would have liked more background, I felt they were believable in an unrealistic world. I enjoyed Elizabeth Banks performance as the slightly Tim Burton-esque Effie Trinket. I had only previously seen her in Role Models and this is quite a different role and I feel she did it well. A plus to not having read the books means that I don't have any preconceived notions of what the characters should look like however I felt the role of Katniss maybe a little off the mark. This is in no means disrespectful to Jennifer Lawrence, I enjoyed her acting and range of emotions she portrayed but she is very womanly in her figure for a supposed 16 year old and also looked very well maintained for a character living on the breadline. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta was better cast. He was effortless at portraying Peeta's sensitive side but expressed the distrust that occasionally surrounds the character equally as well. Lenny Kravitz as warm-hearted Cinna made an impression and Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, the Parkinson of the Panem world, was very enjoyable and blended seamlessly into the bizarre world around him. I was excited about Woody Harrelson's role as I find him captivating and his choice of roles tends to be on the weird and wonderful side but I felt the character of Haymitch a little mundane. Harrelson played him well and accurately expressed the 'emotionally defensive but warm underneath' aspects of his character but I feel in general he was a little underused. I do hope he gets the chance to shine in further instalments.

                  The visual effects of the film were an interesting mix. I found the everyday aspects to be more enticing than the explosive elements. I enjoyed the views of the Districts and the Capitol far more than the explosive elements on the battle field. I found the 'big effects' to look a little fake and forced. I'm unsure if this was an intentional aspect of the 'game', another area where the film could have been clearer.

                  Overall I would describe The Hunger Games as watchable. It was a good concept but I feel it was made as an accompaniment to the novels rather than a film in it's own right. As the film explores themes of death, oppression, control and human capability for violence I would liked to have seen a little more 'uncomfortable' viewing to reflect the uncomfortable nature of the topics- and it's very rare I say things like that. I am aware that there maybe people reading this and screaming at me about how wonderfully this film fits in the larger picture and as I read the books and understand the rest of the story line my feelings in regards to this first film may completely change but as a film in it's own right I feel The Hunger Games was boring, predictable and underwhelming. It is the hype surrounding the trilogy that will encourage me to persevere not this film unfortunately.

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                    15.09.2012 18:35
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                    Superbly promising first part of a much hyped trilogy

                    For Starters
                    **********
                    I have been a little non-plussed by some recent filmic intepretations of children's literature. In my opinion, the big-screen versions of work by J.K Rowling, Lemony Snicket, and Philip Pullman have been over-hyped and underwhelming. So, it was with not a little scepticism that I prepared to watch The Hunger Games, the silver screen's version of Suzanne Collins much vaunted trilogy.
                    I am happy to report that the film is terrific.I will admit now that I have not read the books but,as befits a good first instalment, this film showcases good direction, plot and performances. The concept and themes are thought-provoking and,perhaps most important of all, the ending leaves us sufficiently inquisitive and curious as to what will happen in the second film. By turns harrowing, maddening, tender and life-affirming the Hunger Games did more than enough to fully extinguish my initial scepticism.

                    Cooking Plot
                    ***********
                    The plot of the Hunger Games is straightfoward enough yet is wonderfully paced and realised
                    as we are sucked into a whirlpool of twists and counter-twists. The concept of the film is difficult to countenance, however, without a feeling of revulsion. The nation of Panem (formerly North America) upholds an annual tradition whereby each of its twelve districts is compelled to select a boy and a girl between 12-18 to 'participate' in the Hunger Games. These are staged as a penance for the Districts' uprising, a show of sacrifice,and ostensibly being a 'price to pay for peace'.The film opens with a written summary of this dubious 'pageant', the terms of which are bound by the Treaty of the Treason.
                    The wrong-headed and callous notion is perpetuated here by President Snow who proclaims,Big Brother-like, that the Games will promote healing and unification. Whether this is propaganda or genuine wrong-headedness is immaterial as it does not change the fact that 23 young people and children are to face certain death.
                    Terminology and soundbites are imbued with sinisterly 'positive',paradoxical spin: The Games selection process is known as a 'reaping' and the doomed participants referred to as 'tributes'.
                    We are focused on District 12, a poor,outlying,coal-mining district. More specifically we zoom in on Katniss Everdeen, a feisty,pragmatic 16 year old. We gather that she is an ace archer and huntress par excellence.She dotes on her younger sister, Primrose, and this is evidenced from the outset. As the day of the reaping draws near the tension mounts, as this is clearly a lottery no one wants to win. Imagine the horror then, when the girl selected to represent District 12 is indeed little Primrose Everdeen.
                    The gob-smacked, distraught Katniss eventually finds her voice to scream that she will take her place. A volunteer is unprecedented in the Hunger Games, but Katniss's offer gives us a foreshadowing of her selfless bravery and hero(in)ism.
                    Meanwhile the chosen boy is Peeta, someone Katniss remembers via a series of ongoing flashbacks for an act of kindness her bestowed upon her while feeding his pigs. The combatants are introduced to the grotesque Effie Trinket, leader of District 12. She,in turn, leads them to their mentor, the whisky-swilling Haymitch - a previous 'winner' of the Games.
                    All 24 tributes across the 12 Districts are required to perform a series of tests before would-be sponsors, who could potentially assist them in their quest for victory. One such test is in the form of a chat show to showcase each participant's personality. Hosted by another OTT creation in the form of the cheesy Caesar Flickerman, this is beamed to a captive, brainwashed nation. Later tests are more physical and skill-orientated. Katniss impresses,infuriates and alienates with her archer's prowess and non-conformist, headstrong defiance. Peeta's biggest asset is his strength, but both are made clear that mere brute force and peerless hand-eye coordination will not be enough. The Games will also be as much about strategy and guile,even before they begin. We are reminded of their task ahead in the form of some formidable oppostion from the richer districts. These privileged kids have been drilled and trained from a very early age and almost invariably emerge victorious in the Games. There are precision knife and spear throwers,not to mention some mightily impressive hand-to-hand combatants.
                    The games begin in a clearing,surrounded by vast forests.Inevitably,there are some instant casualties. There will later be death by natural causes such as starvation, dehydration, and exposure. Strategies unfold as both alliances and divisions form. Sickeningly the Games are broadcast back to the chattering classes by means of omnipresent cameras concealed throughout the forest and general 'arena'. Each time a tribute is killed a single cannon shot is sounded. If a tribute is deemed to be evading combat then the 'Game Makers' can force them back towards the other participants by creating strategically raging fires.
                    The richer kids look to have the upper hand,particularly the arrogant and cocky Cato.
                    Katniss and Peeta are separated as the latter is drawn into an alliance. Has he turned on
                    her? But then again there can only be one survivor, so it really is everyone for him/herself. Or so you would think. Who, and what, will prevail?The plot is so compelling as we encounter more twists than you would find in a bag of fusili pasta. Hungry?.....you'll have to wait and see!

                    Themes
                    *******
                    Greed, injustice, oppression, love, and loyalty all populate the thematic cornucopia of the Hunger Games. The Dictatorship of President Snow highlights the disparity between rich and poor.Even the Districts have a hierarchy with the smaller numbered ones representing the rich, more centralised enclaves while the ascending numbers denote more outlying,poorer Districts.
                    Greed and gluttony permeates the film throughout but is grotesquely best evidenced by Effie Trinket. The lavish trappings of her lifestyle are experienced by Katniss and Peeta in the build-up to the Games as they are dined and accommodated in opulent and hi-tech grandeur.This is in strark contrast to the opening dull,greyish scenes that depict down-at-heel District 12.
                    The transparent triviality and sickly,smiling insincerity of characters suchs as Effie Trinkel and Caesar Flickerman only serve to reinforce the fact that these young peopleare mere disposable pawns or numbers (much like their Districts) in a bigger game of entertainment for the privileged few.
                    For me, The Hunger Games is a big nod to 1984 in the insubordination and de-humanisationof subjects. As mentioned earlier, President Snow's address to the nation via large screensis like Big Brother incarnate. Similarly, and worryingly, The Hunger Games seems to be putout there as a possible nightmare vision of the future. Thankfully, Orwell got it mostly wrong - let's hope that Collins does likewise.
                    But perhaps the most interesting semi-analogy is that of the reality TV show, the Orwell-inspired Big Brother amongst them. I suppose of all the programmes that come under this umbrella then the one that most closely approximates itself is I'm A Celebrity Get Me Outof Here. This is not least because of it's jungle setting, with the participants required to demonstrate'survival technigues. Of course no one dies in these programmes and I do not wish to trivialize the message behind The Hunger Games. After all the most that a BB contestant loses is their dignity, not their life. However, to a much lesser degree there is a correlation with peoples insatiable appetite for voyeurism and a twisted satisfaction derived from spying on others' misfortunes.
                    If all this seems a little depressing, then there is a flip side in the form of the love
                    and loyalty that can flourish, particularly when people are placed under life-threatening
                    pressure. Katniss is like a beacon of hope, as her unshakeable good nature is tested to the absolute limit. Although she learns to adapt for the sake of her own good, her contempt for authority is clear and she is utterly selfless and courageous to the end. It is not Katniss alone, however, who has such admirable traits as we see acts of kindness and fortitude of spirit in others, even from some surprising sources.


                    Characters and Performances
                    ************************

                    Katniss Everdeen
                    **************
                    Katniss Everdeen, you may have guessed by now, is the film's main character. I have mentioned some of her more noble attributes and these are wonderfully captured by Jennifer Lawrence. From the start we soon discover that she has had to be a virtual mother to Primrose, as her own mother is clearly not up to the task. We learn,during a later hallucination, that her father passed away in a coal mining accident. The absence of a paternal,and effectively a maternal,presence in the household sees Katniss step up and take admirable ownership in looking after Primrose. It also helps to forge an indelibly strong, self-sufficient character. Into the bargain she isn't too shabby with a bow and arrow when hunting and,asPeeta attests to Haymitch, she can shoot squirrels "right between the eyes".
                    Lawrence handles this weighty role quite effortlessly. She is also quite visually stunning at times, with her tumbling dark locks and mesmerising blue eyes she reminds me a little of a young Liv Tyler.


                    Peeta
                    *****
                    Another good performance from the film's other main protagonist. Peeta largely reciprocates the loyalty, bravery and kindness shown by Katniss. Although he is not as vocal and outwarldly feisty as Katniss, he nevertheless has admirable standards. This is particularly evidenced when he confides in Katniss that whatever happens, live or die, he does not want to be owned by 'them'. His commendable insistence on maintaining his personality is of paramount importance to him.
                    Peeta's feelings for Katniss extend beyond mere friendship and as this becomes apparent, it serves as a beguiling sub-plot thoughout the film. This love is initially unrequited by the outraged Katniss, but will she succumb? One of Peeta's main physical attributes is hisstrength and can,as his co-combatant proclaims "... throw a 100lb sack over flour right over his head". Another trick he has mastered is the art of camoflouage,which he uses to good effect in the arena - even if his creations make him look like something out of an 80s music video.
                    Josh Hutcherson is well cast as Peeta, he looks suitably physically imposing and
                    turns in a solid,if unspectacular, performance.This is not a slight, but a compliment, as he does not shift a disproportionate amount of emphasis away from Katniss's character.

                    Gale
                    ****
                    Gale does not appear in the film for too long but is a significant character as he is
                    Katniss's boyfriend. As he is not selected for the Games we only see him prior to his lover's voluntary conscription with some brief interludes that see him watching her progress on TV, and at the end. Some of these intermittent appearances are important as they remind us of a potentially hazardous love triangle forming. This is highlighted when he is witnessto a particularly tender moment between Katniss and Peeta,captured on camera.You have to feel for the lad as the probability is, from his point of view, that Katniss and Peeta will die anyway, and this may be his last abiding image of her. This may explain why his reaction is quite poker-faced, as jealousy would seem futile on the face of it.Liam Hemsworth plays a good straight bat as Gale.


                    Haymitch
                    ********
                    Haymitch is assigned to be mentor for Katniss and Peeta. As a previous winner of the Games he would appear be an inspired appointment. That is until you factor in his rampant alcoholism. Is his profuse drinking a psychologically scar from what we witnessed during his time in the arena? It is immediately apparent that Haymitch has taken the position to avail himself of the free booze. He is pessimistic about his charges chances and tells them as much to their faces. It is only when Katniss commands his respect by standing up to his negativity that he takes an ever more sober and serious hand in their quest. This new-found sobriety enables him to channel some extremely valuable wisdom and encouragement through to Katniss and Peeta.
                    The character brings some much needed humour to the film, not least in his verbal jousts with Effie Trinket. Woody Harrelson is responsible for breathing whisky-reeking breath into Haymitch, and is one of the film's standout performers.


                    Effie Trinket
                    **********
                    Effie Trinket is the extremely eccentric leader of District 12 and looks like a corpse bride pulled from the wreckage of a Vivienne Westwood studio. Tittering and tottering in high-heeled, knock-kneed incongruity she is a grotesque affirmation of the polarity in class that exists in Panem. Her superficial outlook and attitude also highlights this divide. An instance of this is when Haymitch and Katniss come to verbal blows over dinner and the latter stabs a knife between his fingers. Despite the fact that the topic of the argument is life or death, all Effie can muster is concern for her table. As the knife plunges down she loudly admonishes with a shriek "That's mahogany!" Elizabeth Banks turns in a memorable performance, beneath all the make-up.

                    Caesar Flickerman
                    ***************
                    Along with Effie Trinket, Caesar FLickerman is the most visually arresting character in the film, but not necessarily in a complimentary sense. As the uber-cheesy chat-show host and Games commentator he is a like a purple-rinsed Elton John as Mozart.His role is to chat to the young contestants so that the vile viewers and sponsors may get an inkling into their likelihood of winning the games. Much like a pre-parade ring for racehorses, this helps the public decide who their money will be on.Flickerman's fixed grin and dazzling insincerity help to spark the paradox that mixes impending death with frivolous candyfloss.Stanley Tucci does not disappoint as the outrageous Flickerman.


                    President Snow
                    *************
                    Although we do not see the President too often, his presence is pervasive thoughout. Played with sinister aplomb by Hollywood heavyweight Donald Sutherland, his ruthless intransigence is all too evident. Just as we see a ray of hope, then Snow falls heavily upon it! It is clear that he favours the richer districts, and news of outsiders outperforming their odds rankles with him. He is one of those rare actors from whom a mere glance can chillingly convey impending trouble and terror.


                    Rue
                    ***
                    Rue is a very shy little black girl who befriends Katniss by helping her during the Games.Although only young and small, she is bright and resourceful. Her main strategy seems to be built around hiding, which is aided by her penchant and ability to climb very high trees. It is only when I noticed that she has the cutest smile and expressive face that I almost forgot that she was engaged in such a deadly game. The fact that we are invited to get to know her a little may be directorially deliberate, in heightening our outrage as to how anyone could condemn such a beautiful little child to, almost, certain death. Rue is played by Amandla Sternberg, and I think she could be a little star in the making.

                    Cinna
                    *****
                    I feel a mention is deserved for Cinna, enterprisingly played by a glittery green-eyeshadowed Lenny Kravitz. He is responsible for designing the costumes for Katniss and Peeta in order to impress the sponsors. But much more than just a designer, he becomes an encouraging and friendly confidant-especially to Katniss. I don't know why I should be surprised, but Kravitz succeeds with a tender, bravura performance.


                    Just Desserts?
                    ***********
                    I can't reveal the ending but needless to say it is something of a double-edged sword,comprising satisfaction and regret. It's not totally happy,nor is it totally sad.Of course, we need to bear in mind that this is only the first instalment of a trilogy, and a completely happy,clappy resolution would be pointless as conflict and dilemma are what drive plotlines forward.We need to be enticed into yearning for the second part and my curiosity was suitably pricked into wanting me to do so. There was a sufficient sense of foreboding that sees me awaiting the next one with eager anticipation.

                    Conclusion
                    *********
                    I wholeheartedly recommend the Hunger Games. Despite my pre-viewing scepticism it completely won me over and, for once, a modern 'children's' book has alchemised into cinematic gold. My wife has read the trilogy and assures me that it is very faithful to the book, except that it does not quite develop as many characters. However, she too loves the film which can be anachievement itself when you already have a pre-set notion of the story in your mind's eye.
                    Even though it is has been classified with a 12 certificate the concept of children being killed for entertainment is hardly an easy one to stomach. We are largely guarded from overtly graphic visualisation of the killings, rather we are shown the plunge of a knife and some prone bodies. However, the film can be upsetting and I would extend this caution to adults as well. Unlike the splatuitous horror of something like Saw or Hostel, the Hunger Games is,of course,visually tame but far more terrifying in the implicit terror that we encounter. That said, I feel that the film is important and resonates as a reminder of mankind's potential for infinite,untold cruelty.

                    Based on the Novel by
                    *******************
                    Suzanne Collins

                    Director
                    *******
                    Gary Ross

                    Main Cast
                    ********
                    Katniss Everdeen - Jennifer Lawrence
                    Peeta Mellerk - Josh Hutcherson
                    Effie Trinket - Elizabeth Banks
                    Haymitch Abenathy - Woody Harrelson
                    President Snow - Donald Sutherland
                    Gale Hawthorne - Liam Hemsworth
                    Cinna - Lenny Kravitz
                    Caesar FLickerman - Stanley Tucci
                    Rue - Amanda Sternberg
                    Cato - Alexander Ludwig

                    General Information
                    ****************

                    Audio
                    *****
                    Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

                    Audio Description
                    **************
                    Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

                    Aspect Ratio
                    **********
                    Anamorphic 2.40:1

                    Run Time
                    ********
                    137 minutes approx

                    Language
                    ********
                    English

                    Subtitles
                    ********
                    English for the hearing impaired

                    Format
                    ******
                    Dual layer

                    BBFC Certificate
                    *************
                    12: Contains intense threat, moderate violence and occasional gory moments


                    Special Features
                    *************
                    None (unless you count trailers for other films).
                    I believe that there is another double DVD version for fans of peripherals.

                    *This review was first posted on Ciao under the username FLOCKOFSEAGULLS.

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                      13.09.2012 15:14
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                      4 stars

                      Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.

                      Having read the trilogy from Suzanne Collins, starting with the Hunger Games, in a short length of time, I have been eager to see the film for quite a while. I try where possible, not to really watch a film when it has been adapted from a book which I have really enjoyed, as I am more often than not left feeling disappointed after enjoying the book so much. I decided to make an exception to my own little rule on this occasion, as the Hunger Games is set in a whole new world, with new concepts and ideas, strange characters and fantastic sounding costumes, so I was eager to see how my own visualisations compared with that of the filmmakers interpretation of the book.

                      Last night, a friend and I sat down to watch the DVD, which had been recently released. She had introduced me to the books and so we were both really excited about seeing it together after missing the chance at the cinema. The film follows Katniss, a free spirit who lives in the Seam, a district of Panem which is full of rules and harsh consequences for rule breakers. Panem, once known as South America, is split into 12 districts which are all governed by the Capital which is full of luxury and everything is on a grand scale. Following an uprising known as the 'Dark Days' nearly 80 years ago, the Capital controls all residents by sending 12 boys and 12 girls (aged between 12 and 18) into a live event known as The Hunger Games. The only rule is that only one can survive. The children are picked through a sadistic lottery system, with your name being entered once more on every birthday and can be entered again in exchange for a sack of food which will last a few months. Poverty is so rife that some children can be entered as many as 30 times by the time they are 18. The Districts are then eligible to bet on who they think will win, and the victor will win food and celebrations for a whole year for their District, but only one can survive.

                      The Hunger Games is a man-made arena brought to life by the sickening imaginations of the leaders of The Capital. It changes every year but the concept remains the same, give the contestants limited food, water and weapons and make them fight for survival. If they are unwilling to do that, they are forced through artificial forces such as a fire that pushes them all in one direction. The power of The Capital is not to be underestimated as they are able to instantly drain a lake or reduce the temperature to freezing. The arenas are controlled by a group of staff in a control room, and this is quite interesting to watch. It wasn't really touched upon in the book, and is quite like minority report (technology wise) to watch.

                      The book I would say has been more successful than the film. The books were released in 2008 but I only began to start hearing hype about them at the end of last year, and I quickly jumped on the bandwagon. The books are quite brutal in the sense of you feel anguish for Katniss and her family and there is no innocence or niceties about it, whereas the film is more 'Disneyfied', that's the only word that springs to mind (and I think I've just made it up anyway!). The film is violent in areas and certainly captures a sense of torment for the main character, however this isn't as intense as it is in the book.

                      The film is fairly long at 142 minutes, but the book is around 500 pages so for everything to be explained and included it couldn't have been any shorter. There were no aspects of filling in any way; everything that is in this film is needed. The film does stay loyal to the book, there are things that are changed or missed, but this is pretty normal for an adaptation. Although, one thing that really annoyed myself and my friend was how Katniss got the mockingjay pin. Pretty inconsequential in this film, but bearing in mind that the third film is called 'Mockingjay' I would have expected it to stay true to this piece of information.

                      The cast is surprising, but perfect. Jennifer Lawrence played Katniss, and had only really previously been in Winters Bone, but she was perfect for this role, capturing the character perfectly. Liam Hemsworth (with weird died brown hair!) took a smaller part in the film than I expected, but in the subsequent films will play a bigger part if he continues to play the character. Lenny Kravitz plays Cinna, her stylist, and when I first saw him in the film last night, I said to my friend that it looked like a young Lenny Kravitz! No, it's him, he just has not aged one iota! Woody Harrelson plays a drunk Haymitch who mentors Katniss in the games, and he (as you would expect of Harrelson) is brilliant.

                      The concept is totally new and that is outstanding, just the same as the book, the acting is perfect and the costumes, effects etc. are literally out of this world, yet somehow, for me, the film just failed to hit the spot for me. I found the film would perhaps have been more captivating if I hadn't read the book, but knowing what is around the corner, or the fate or certain characters, just took the edge off the film a little for me. Despite this, it is still a brilliant film, it just isn't as outstanding as the books. I will be actively looking to see the other films in the trilogy. I was quite surprised to read that Lionsgate would not commit to making the subsequent two films (despite the books being left open) and would only make a decision when they knew how profitable they would be as films. Well, I can put you out of your misery straight away.... The Hunger Games cost an estimated $78 million to make, and on its opening weekend smashed the budget out of the water by making over $150 million. Tickets to Catching Fire please!...

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                        10.09.2012 23:48
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                        I can understand why this one is number one in the best seller chart at the moment.

                        Earlier this summer I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and found myself gripped by the story of Katniss Everdeen, an American Citizen in a futuristic America. When I saw that it had been converted into a film, and that film has recently been released onto DVD format, I decided that it was something we would enjoy watching probably more than once, so I actually bought it. A 2 disc DVD was £10 as part of my supermarket shop, and as it was at number one in the DVD chart last week I am sure many people will be watching this in September.

                        The plot of the film is very close to the plot in the book, though I did feel that there was a lot less time devoted to building the relationships between Katniss and her friend from home, Gale, and the new relationship between Katniss and her new friend Peeta. There was also a small discrepancy in how Katniss comes across the gold Mockinjay pin that is so important throughout the trilogy of books this film is based upon. However, you can appreciate that to stay completely true to the book it would need to be a six hour film rather than the 137 minutes it is.

                        For anyone unfamiliar with the plot, America is now called Panem. The country is divided up into 12 sectors based upon what they produce. For example, there is a sector devoted to developing technology, one to farming, and the central character Katniss comes from District 12, which specialises in coal mining. The country is controlled by Capitol city. After a failed rebellion from District 13, 74 years earlier, the districts are all required to participate once a year in an event called The Hunger Games. This is basically a reality television programme, where 2 people from each district must enter a fight to the death with only one survivor. The purpose of this is to keep the citizens in line. The candidates are chosen by ballot of the names of all of the children aged between 12 and 18.

                        When Katniss's 12 year old sister Prim has her name drawn to enter the games arena, Katniss immediately volunteers herself to take her place. This is a huge sacrifice as District 12 have only ever had one winner of the games, and Katniss, and her comrade Peta are not expected to return from the games. However, Katniss is an expert with a bow and arrow as she has hunted to keep her family alive for many years. So can she beat all odds and walk out of this situation she is in?

                        I found this film hugely enjoyable, and while not quite as good as the book, as is always the case, it was good enough in its own right to compete with my imagination. The film started showing the drabness of District 12 to give an idea of the background to the story. The first sighting of the presenter Effie from the Capitol at the reaping was a really bizarre moment for me, as she was so colourful compared to the drabness of the outfits worn by those living in poverty. Her purple lipstick against a really pale face looked almost clown like, and pretty ridiculous. As a technique in filming, it reminded me a little of Schindler's list which was all sepia at points apart from key things that the Director wanted to draw your attention too, like a little girl's bright red coat. Here, the purple hair and lips really stood out and I was a bit put off at this point.

                        However, as the contestants got onto a train to go to the games at the Capitol city, all these bright colours suddenly appeared. I have to say, I think I have a pretty good imagination, but seeing all these strange looking people and animals was a very interesting experience, and while I think my version in my head is better, there was something very unique about what I was seeing on screen.

                        Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss was at first not quite what I imagined. While physically she had similar characteristics, I felt she was too healthy looking and not quite as rough round the edges as the Katniss in the book who is malnourished and facing a constant battle to get food and stay clean in the little house that is covered in pit dust. However, I found her very believable in the role, and she was a great actress at conveying the emotions shown by Katniss as well as the skill.

                        Liam Hemsworth was a very good physical match for the vision in my head of Gale, and while he did not feature that much in this film compared to the book, we did not get a lot of screen time from him, but we did see again a range of emotion in the reaping and when he was saying goodbye to Katniss, as well as the moodiness when he was watching her on TV and seeing her developing relationship with Peeta for the cameras.

                        Josh Hutcherson as Peeta was at first very unbelievable to me. The first time he appeared on screen was when his name was called at the Reaping, and I said to my husband that they had got it wrong at this point as he just did not seem the loveable person that Peeta is in the book. However, he really shone in the games and in the training, and this actor was also a natural in his role.

                        For me, the main actors chosen were not massively well known names, and this meant for me that they could become these characters and be fully believable. The people who I did know more like Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz were so well made up that to me they were not recognisable. This shows a great talent from the actors and the costumes/make up artists. My real enjoyment from the film came when the build up to the show started and you got to see the characters really develop. It was very interesting seeing the events I know from the book such as Katniss wearing an outfit that is on fire. This was much better than I could imagine myself. I could start to forget that the actors were not quite what I imagined and concentrate on the script.

                        The special effects used were excellent. The gamemakers studio with a giant computer console was very futuristic, and you have the contrast between the everyday things that don't look odd to us like the woodland, and using bows and arrows and camaflage, then you get the more surreal animals brought to life in the book and the hallucinations that the contestants suffer in the woods.

                        I think Suzanne Collins being involved in writing the screenplay alongside the director Gary Ross and Billy Ray has meant that the original novel has transferred so well to the big screen. This has as much appeal to me as it would to someone who never read the novel. I found I was engrossed and that the 2 hours plus zoomed by and as the credits rolled I was thinking to myself is that it?

                        It deserves the 12 rating as there are some violent scenes and some things that occur in the film that I am pretty sure would induce nightmares in younger children. It also requires the viewer being mature enough to get the concept of why humans are killing each other for entertainment purposes.

                        I think this is a must see film, if only to see what all the fuss is about. I would happily watch it again and again.

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