Alan Dee’s guide to new cinema releases: The Hunger Games, Act Of Valour

IT’S one of the iron rules of Hollywood, which seems incapable of coming up with anything original on its own, that if it’s popular with the kids they’ll make a movie of it.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 22nd March 2012, 4:37 am

It could be a TV show, a computer game, a theme park ride – and even a book, or preferably a series of books which provides instant material for sequels if the first one flies.

So there are fingers crossed that The Hunger Games will prove to be a hit, because there are two more books in this teen-friendly series and the prospect of a Harry Potter or Twilight-style payout always gladdens the hardened heart of the steeliest studio exec.

So what’s it all about? There are echoes of lots of other ‘the future is going to be horrid’ films from years gone by here – Rollerball, The Running Man, Logan’s Run, that sort of thing.

Jennifer ‘Winter’s Bone’ Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson are the young stars centre stage and Woody Harrelson provides reliable support in this 142-minute adventure.

The USA has collapsed and the new world order aims to keep the rabble under control and entertained with a brutal televised game in which teenagers battle to the death.

Brave Jennifer only gets involved to protect her younger sister while Josh is picked as the boy half of the tag team, and both are trained up for the ordeal ahead by the reliably batty Woody.

There’s nothing much original here, but it’s a workmanlike sci-fi thriller with decent action sequences, and it has enough of a hook to draw in disillusioned young film fans convinced that the world is out to get them. In this case, it really is...

> Don’t go along to Wild Bill expecting a biopic of the legendary Wild West hero, but although this is more Cockney than cowboy the set-up is pretty similar.

Actor Dexter Fletcher – once of TV’s Press Gang, but also in the cast of Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, if you want a clue about where this one is coming from – turns writer/director for this gritty tale of London low life.

TV regular Charlie Creed-Miles gets out of jail to find life has changed in the years he has been away.

His old lady has scarpered, there are a couple of resentful sprogs on the verge of getting into trouble, and the bad lads he used to hang out with are reaching out with menaces. Is he going to man up and be a real dad, or slip back into bad old ways?

Watch out for Son of Rambow’s Will Poulter making another big impression.

> From the people who brought you Osama Bin Laden...Act Of Valour taps into Andy McNab territory and features ‘real-life Navy SEALS’ in a tale of special forces derring-do,

It’s based on real events, say the directors, and aims to be as much a breathtaking action thriller as it is a Top Gun-style recruiting film for the armed forces.

There’s live ammunition going off all over the shop, apparently, so if TV commercials for the Territorials stir your juices and you dream of action behind enemy lines, this is the film for you.

However, while the stars may be able to kill with their bare hands, they aren’t exactly blessed in the acting department.