The first blockbuster of 2012: The Hunger Games is a sci-fi adventure that will leave teens hungry for more
01:40 GMT, 23 March 2012
The Hunger Games (12A)
Verdict: First blockbuster of 2012
Hollywood is in need of a hit franchise after the catastrophic John Carter. So thank goodness for The Hunger Games, which teenage girls are going to love — so much so that I bet it will be the first in a very profitable series.
It’s a science-fiction action-adventure for girls, faithful to its source novel, with a fiery teenage huntress battling to overcome a corrupt, male-dominated system.
But it’s no feminist tract. As in Twilight, there are two hunky guys willing to scrap over our heroine.
Ready for battle: Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is fiery teenage huntress
We’re in the future, where decadent rulers in the Capitol (governed by a fake avuncular Donald Sutherland) pick a girl and boy from each of 12 districts to fight to the death on live TV.
It’s a lethal, high-tech version of I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here! The talented Jennifer Lawrence reprises the country girl role that won her an Oscar nomination for Winter’s Bone, as the heroine Katniss Everdeen.
Her frail younger sister is chosen to represent District 12, but Katniss volunteers in her place. She is handy with a bow and arrow, and hopes this will help her to survive and return to a handsome youth (Liam Hemsworth) who is wooing her. Her allies are a drunk who once won the competition for her district (Woody Harrelson) and a lad (Josh Hutcherson) who’s long worshipped Katniss from afar.
There’s much to admire. The make-up, costumes and environment of the ruling class are spectacular, and Gary Ross directs competently — if not at his Seabiscuit best.
However, I was not sure of the point of it all. Is it to satirise the sadism of reality TV To dramatise the uncaring way teenagers are treated by their elders Those ideas are scarcely developed. Perhaps they will be in future films.
Adults may also notice the plot is familiar — much of it resembles a watered-down version of Battle Royale, a Japanese movie made in 2000.
But such considerations are unlikely to distract the film’s target audience. Here is the first blockbuster hit of the year.