Step this way for The Hunger Games, an impressive sci-fi kill-em-up in which kids in the near future are forced to slaughter each other in a sadistic official death match tournament.
Sure, it might sound like a new coalition government youth control policy, but The Hunger Games is the film adaptation of the much-loved bestselling novel by Suzanne Collins.
For those who haven’t read the books – both of you – The Hunger Games is staged in the nation of Panem, formerly known as the good old US of A.
Some years before the events on screen, the 13 poverty-stricken districts of Panem rebelled against the wealthy, controlling Capitol.
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The rebellion didn’t go well, and as a punishment, the districts are forced to play The Hunger Games.
Each year one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 from each district must battle it out in a televised arena until only one is left alive.
We join the games in their 74th year as 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer ‘Winter’s Bone’ Lawrence) puts herself forward to be the female District 12 fighter in place of her younger sister Primrose (Willow Shields)when her comes up in the draw.
Also flying the flag for District 12 is Peeta Mellark (Josh ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ Hutcherson) who has a soft spot for Katniss and once threw her some bread when she was starving…
So the scene is set for a Battle Royale-esque kids on kids smackdown
The chosen teens are trained in survival skills and weapon usage, then spruced up by stylists such as Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) who is assigned to Katniss.
Also on hand is the District 12 Capitol escort Effie Trinket – the lovely Elizabeth Banks. Her job is to help her charges make a good impression with potential sponsors, who may then send in support to the kids in the arena.
The Hunger Games certainly looks great – director Gary Ross captures the futuristic look and feel effectively with some decent special effects.
The plot plays out as you might expect with some Lord of the Flies-lite tribal alliances made by the battling kids and much ‘just off camera’ violence so that the young fans of the books aren’t excluded by a more stringent certificate.
Overall The Hunger Games – leagues ahead of the toothless Twilight and similar offerings, and already setting records with opening box office Stateside – delivers its nicely twisted tale with enough emotion, style and action to please fans of the book and newcomers alike.
Lawrence is excellent in the lead role, too.