Robyn Morrison reviews the film adaptation of The Hunger Games
The conclusion of the Harry Potter and Twilight series has left the gap wide open for the ‘next big thing’ in films adapted from young adult fiction and much like its predecessors, The Hunger Games presents dark themes making it intriguing for not only young adults but also an older audience.
Based on the best-seller by Suzanne Collins who co-wrote the screenplay alongside director Gary Ross, the story is set in a brutally suppressed and totalitarian North America crippled by food shortages. The state has been divided into twelve communities annually ‘forgiven’ for their uprising against the rich Capitol years earlier by supplying two young adults to compete in a televised survival contest in a fenced-off woodland. The film follows these 24 individuals chosen by lottery, provided with weapons and food and expected to fight with the elements and each other until only one is left alive.
Growing up in poor, rural areas the contestants are at first lavished with food and training in a luxurious metropolis, lured by the promise of celebrity unaware that they are soon to be lambs to the slaughter. The nightmare story has a similar narrative to Kinji Fukasaku’s Japanese Battle Royale and has a tale of doomed love similar to Twilight as the viewing public become electrified when lovers Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are chosen as competitors forced to fight each other to the death despite their emotional history.
The Hunger Games is a satirical look into the extremes of reality television and pop culture increasingly present in society today and unmasks shows such as X Factor and Big Brother as ritually humiliating and exposing young people tempted by the promise of momentary fame.
Breaking box office records in the film’s opening weekend (£98million), this gladiator style blockbuster has all the ingredients that continue to attract vast audiences to the talent contests ever present on our TV screens; love interests between contestants, manipulation by the show’s creators and support of the underdog in a telling exploration of the impact of fame.
The Hunger Games is an imaginative and intelligent adaptation and like the select participants of its savage sport stands triumphant and worthy of its box office success.