Film review: The Hunger Games (4 out of 5 stars)

Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games
Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games

(12A) 142mins

Director: Gary Ross

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland

HOLLYWOOD loves a good trilogy and The Hunger Games is a ready-made one - three books that have captivated a large audience.

I haven’t read Suzanne Collins’ novels but this movie has inspired me to pick them up.

The author was involved in the screenplay which I reckon is usually a good thing.

The film is set in the future when North America is divided into 12 district and ruled the Capitol.

Following a rebellion decades before, each district pays homage to the Capitol by sending two young representatives for the Hunger Games - a televised fight untilthere is one person left.

Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) takes her sister’s place for the Games and faces all manner of emotions in her bid to survive.

The theme is hardly new (Battle Royale from 2000 and Rollerball in 1975 spring to mind) but some great acting and a solid screenplay push this film into another league.

My one disappointment was the over-use of a hand-held camera early on which confused my vision.

However, the same technique used later helped the director as he shot the fight sequences - creating a feeling of brutal action when, in fact, you don’t see much.

Thankfully, this is a character-driven story and the cast is up to the task.

Jennifer Lawrence as the main lead is well up to the task and believeable - not a Ripley-like (Alien) hero but a normal young woman battling to beat society.

One scene stands out in particular - watching her visibly shaking as she awaits the start of the Games.

Woody Harrelson puts in another good shift as mentor Haymitch Abernathy and Donald Sutherland is pefect as a brooding and menacing President Snow.

It’s a very long movie but time flies as you get caught up in the action and emotion.

Let’s hope it’s a big enough success to encourage the other two stories to be filmed.

Steve Payne

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley