On its opening weekend, The Hunger Games, the film based on Suzanne Collins’ bestselling novels for “young adults,” grossed an impressive $155 million – more than any Harry Potter or Twilight sequel.
Directed by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Big), the first instalment of this latest teen sci-fi franchise transports us to a dystopian future in the ravaged country of Panem, where every year, a young boy and a young girl are selected from each of the 12 districts, and forced to fight each other to the death in the so-called Hunger Games in front of a live TV audience. Think The Truman Show meets Dirty Harry meets Romeo and Juliet. This tradition dates back to a ‘dark’ time in the country’s history, when citizens tried to turn over the government that ‘fed them.’ It sounds like what Stalin must have dreamed of at night.
Starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, the movie adaptation of the book is a suspenseful joy-ride that will make Twilight-haters happy that they now have their own cult. For one, the hero is a strong female character, as opposed to a spoiled girl drooled over by vampires and werewolves. As Katniss, Lawrence is both vulnerable and vicious, not to mention that she rocks long braids like nobody’s business. My prediction is that girls in hunting boots and long braids shall be taking over Manhattan soon (that Girl with the Dragon Tattoo mohawk is way too hard to pull off on an everyday basis). Jokes aside, what The Hunger Games has that Twilight doesn’t (minus Michael Sheen, of course) is good casting. Josh Hutcherson (The Kids are Alright) plays Peeta, the boy from District 12 who is chosen to fight alongside, and against, Katniss in the games. Elizabeth Banks co-stars as Effie Trinket, a TV personality with a questionable fashion sense. Stanley Tucci slips back into his character-actor self as the games’ TV host, and Woody Harrelson is a scene-stealer as Haymitch Abernathy, a previous winner of the Hunger Games, who has turned to booze for moral consolation. Lenny Kravitz as Katniss’ make-up artist is an inspired choice.
Naysayers will dismiss The Hunger Games for its unfolding love story and less-than-stellar dialogue. Another issue some may have with it is the more than obvious resemblance to Battle Royale, a 1999 Japanese novel and film by the same name, in which the Japanese government forces schoolchildren to fight each other to the death. But the underlying political themes in The Hunger Games, the acting, and the unstopping action are what will keep audiences in their seats.
By Radina Papukchieva
Follow me on twitter @Papukchieva