sat 20/04/2019

DVD: The Hunger Games | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Hunger Games

DVD: The Hunger Games

Contender for teen novel of the decade travels from page to disc intact and feisty

Slimy Caesar presents his gladiatorial prom queen to the world

Being such a massive phenomenon has made The Hunger Games an easy target to tilt at but the truth is that, staying close to the Suzanne Collins novel, this film adaptation is a lean, smart science fiction thriller that there’s much to like about. 

The premise is that in the future the USA has become a nation called Panem, 12 serf states ruled by the Capitol who organise an annual televised competition designed to engender obedience in the populace. On it a pair of "tributes" from each district fight to the death on the live TV show of the title. Sixteen-year-old poacher Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) from District 12 is chosen by dint of standing in for her younger sister and accompanied by baker’s son Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). They are mentored by ex-winner Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and, once in the game, indulge in an is-it-real-or-just-for-the-cameras romance.

Gary Ross, who built his reputation directing sweet kids’ films such Big, Lassie and Seabiscuit, cuts the candy right out for this one. Instead, he keeps the story focused, driving forward at a pace and, while the ugliness of the violence is hinted at rather than revealed (except for the results of an insect attack that the youngest viewers - it's a 12 - may find disturbing), there is a real viciousness at the heart of the story. Lawrence, so good in Winter's Bone, has sturdiness of purpose as she makes Katniss her own, and there’s an entertaining cameo from Stanley Tucci as the blue-haired TV presenter Caesar Flickerman. For adult viewers the satire on the banality of reality TV may be the most fun but, perversely and cleverly, it’s hard not to be swept along by the Games themselves, just as the Capitol’s decadent citizens are. It will be interesting to see how Hollywood handles the next two books which grow increasingly dark and uninterested in feel-good plot closure devices.

Extras on the double disc DVD edition include a two-hour documentary, The World is Watching: The Making of the Hunger Games, the full Panem propaganda film that's fleetingly featured in the film, and interviews with the director as well as Donald Sutherland who plays the villainous president of Panem.

Watch the trailer for The Hunger Games

It will be interesting to see how Hollywood handles the next two books which grow increasingly dark and uninterested in feel-good plot closure devices

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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