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About 6 weeks ago, I heard about The Hunger Games and was intrigued mainly through the many comparisons between it and Battle Royale, a cult Japanese film, which too this day still remains one of my favourites. But rather than rush out to see The film I decided, knowing the film was part of a trilogy, to read the book first.

My reaction to the book was blogged a few weeks back, where my reaction had been positive, and more so that the similarities to Battle Royale were minimal. So, my partner and I went to see whether the adaptation was much to write home about.

So, in case you’re unfamiliar with the general story line of The Hunger Games, here it is (In twitter speak..)

In the future, North America is now known as Pamen – The Capitol and 12 districts – every year 2 “tribute” one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected and taken to The Hunger Games, where they will battle to the death – the Games are televised in a reality show format until there is 1 winner.

The book is broken up into 3 sections – The Tributes, The Hunger Games and The Victor.

The lead up to the games itself is handled quite well, The elaborate costumes, which seemed very much like they’d been borrowed from the wardrobe department of “The Fifth Element” were certainly not something from the book that I had picked up on, though the exaggerated costumes of the tributes during their introduction was as I imagined.

I thought the character of Cinna was gay – a bit of a Gok Wan character. Though I thought that Lenny Kravitz brought an unexpected level of humanity to the character which I’d not expected. I always saw Cinna as a bit of light comic relief and even though it look me by surprise, to see him more down to earth. it was a welcome change.

The world which Suzanne Collins has created, I still don’t feel totally comfortable with. I think that the problem is that it doesn’t feel fully formed and the true repression and the horror of the reality hasn’t been fully represented, particularly as the film has been altered somewhat to ensure it achieved a 12A certificate, so blood was digitally removed, and the scene at the cornucopia, where the games begins, which is essentially a bloodbath, lacked any blood, and I also felt that the relationships, which in the book, felt defined lacked the definition, and thus lacked the emotional connection with the audience.

I know it seems like I’m slating the film, but I did think it was still excellent and was a fantastic accompaniment to the book. My partner, who has not read the book, thought it was rubbish and described it as “Twilight with arrows”. Of which is he is referring to the “love” interest of Peeta and Katniss.

[SPOILER ALERT]

In the book it becomes clear that Peeta has always taken a shine to Katniss and had a crush on her, in the film, more emphasis is placed on her bond with Gale, who is watching the Games from District 12.

In the book there is massive emphasis put on how Katniss needs to fabricate her “feelings” for Peeta in order to give the audience a good show, and as we move into the 2nd part of the trilogy this could prove to be a massive part of the story – but, I’m not a fan of silly little love triangles and as I really hope that this doesn’t become the focal point of the rest of the story (I’m 20% into Catching Fire as I write this)

I think that the casting of Jennifer Lawrence was a stroke of genius. Her Katniss Everdeen was pretty much how I pictured her when I read the book, and she gives the characters a depth that is required when dealing with the subject of children killing children (which is essentially what this is about). I think that should Katniss have been miscast, then the film would be disaster.

I can see how this film may not be to the tastes of some people, It’s not Battle Royale (and it’s not trying to be), but the strange production design and the haunting back story behind the world of Panem, which it only touches on, may leave enough people wondering what will be the fate of our lead characters as the film ends.

The sequel Catching Fire has been announced and will be released towards the end of 2013. I was quite disheartened when I read the director Gary Ross had left the process as he felt he couldn’t give the sequel the time required to make it a brilliant film, so I really hope that it isn’t rushed through while public interest is high. It may not have the appeal of Twilight, but it is by far a much better story with characters who, if you’ve read the book, can really be cared for.

A solid 4 star film. I would like to see the American version which is “uncut” to compare.

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