Working up an appetite for more

There’s nothing I enjoy more than sneaking off to the movies in the middle of the day when the rest of the world is going about its own version of real life. After a recent experience at another 12A movie (The Woman in Black) where I had to move seats to avoid the orchestrated shrieks of the lasses sitting in the same row, I was determined not to see The Hunger Games alongside members of its target audience. Call me the Scrooge, or Scourge, of popular cinema entertainment. Bah, popcorn?

So in the early afternoon daughter and I settled down with our small popcorns (yeah, right – but it has lots of anti-oxidant properties apparently so is a ‘must eat’ during this Lenten famine period). At this point I should note that neither of us has read Suzanne Collins’ blockbusting books but the recent comparisons to the likes of Battle Royale, The Running Man et al piqued our interest.

Another reason for my wanting to see The Hunger Games is the jaw-dropping talent of the amazing Jennifer Lawrence. The fact that she didn’t win an Oscar for Winter’s Bone is just one in a long line of Academy travesties. And I had heard that squirrel eating featured in this movie too, so what’s not to look forward to? Otherwise my expectations were limited, and I’m not sure my daughter had any real thoughts as to what to expect, so we were a couple of blank slates waiting to be impressed. Or empty plates waiting to be filled? So many metaphors, so many readers to alienate!

And were we? In a word; sorry, two: mostly yes.

The abject fear of the children who were literally in a fight to the death lottery situation was palpable, but while the orchestrated frenzy that surrounded this child-centred game show story was visually entertaining it was disappointing too. Maybe I’m alone in wanting a bit more of Stanley Tucci’s game show host with his fabulous voiceover commentary (bizarrely reminiscent of Best in Show, though there were no nuts references here) and wishing that the enigmatic presidential character played by Donald Sutherland was more of something, but maybe you needed to know the story beforehand, and I’m sure he’ll feature large in The Hunger Games part II.

The comparisons with Battle Royale were of course trite, with the only similarity being kids fighting to the death, because the gore was limited to large cuts, stings and a rather nasty burn; the deaths were, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, quite tastefully handled. The first scene when they are launched into the game scenario was, I felt, horrendous, and children die, obviously if not graphically.

And yes, I admit it, I cried. Several times and not always at the points when I think the director might have wanted me to. I found myself pondering a society that trained and sent a proportion of its children to their deaths as some form of tribute and sacrifice to a bygone age, and the brutalisation that this required. I also found myself calculating how long the Hunger Games had been happening and why people had chosen to have children when this was what possibly lay in wait.

Sorry, bit of a tangent there…

But yes I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I do want to know what happens next. Maybe not enough to read the books, but I’m certainly going to take the aisle seat one early afternoon in the not too distant future for another helping of The Hunger Games.

1 Comment

  1. miranda
    Mar 28, 2012

    I also engineered a teen-free audience for this film! Agree with your review especially re the need for more Stanley Tucci, but have thought that about almost every film he has ever been in. Jennifer Lawrence wonderful, also liked the playing of ‘Peeta’ character and thought the gender politics of their ‘role reversal’ intriguing. On a less feminist note, please send location of the Australian warehouse that assembles those Hemsworth blokes so that I can collect one of my own.

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