"And we wish you all happy Hunger Games!" Cue Applause? Sorry, these are the oppressed you're talking to.
The Hunger Games is that sort of movie you take someone to. It's a movie with a happy ending (somewhat). I mean, no one expected a remake of Gladiator, but that's how the movie tries to be.
Granted, the book was pretty good. Suzanne Collins's book was like another version of Anne Frank's diary. Somewhere there, at least, since Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence in all her pouty glory) is this sort of would-be amazon with a penchant for marksmanship. Unlike her partner, Peeta Mellark, is a real hunter. She knows what she wants, and how to get it; but even so, unlike in the book where Katniss is a bit more manipulative, the movie version doesn't quite get there, and ends up being a bit more melodramatic instead.
Peeta Mellark is by all means a supporting character. While Suzanne Collins says that her inspiration for Katniss came from Theseus, then Peeta is by all accounts Pirithous, one of the Greek hero's better companions. In the film, though, Peeta is a quiet, subdued, and more than slightly jealous character who, in typical Twilight style, confesses to stalking her throughout most of her childhood.
But Katniss, there, is pretty clever. You see, the "tributes" (or gladiators) are given gifts from their sponsors, without which life in the arena is pretty fucked. When by some odd coincidence she and Peeta are cast as star-crossed lovers, the audience goes into rapture at the thought, so Katniss encourages the rumour.
Of course, the fact that it transcends mere manipulation by the end of the movie is fairly predictable.
All of that aside, what I really liked about the film is the history divulged.
The Hunger Games are set in Panem, which is typically a collective of North American countries. 74 years have passed since a failed revolution by 12 districts caused these games to be founded by the President so as to keep those districts intimidated.
In all that time, they've taken young men and women - a pair, from each district - and tossed them into the deathmatch. Suffice to say, it's worked. All the districts live in rural simplicity, while the capital of Panem boasts amazing technology and culture.
And all of this comes through in the movie. That's one thing I liked about it: from Katniss's perspective, all of this is new to her. Oddly, though, also from her perspective, you get a sense of odd contempt from her, since she is essentially one of the best archers anyone knows, and you'd swear she was somehow related to the Predator. That's not to say, that she doesn't have her perks. She's tough as nails; one of the better parts of the movie is when she gets fed up of trying to impress the audience, and shoots an arrow straight into the proverbial apple in the boar's teeth, instantly diverting attention from the feast and to herself. 'Thank you,' she says, 'for your consideration,' before retreating, leaving behind a rather stunned collection of sponsors.
But Katniss, more than Peeta, is a survivalist, and that's the one thing that goes to convince you of typical cyberpunk.
That in the end, what's being shown, being projected, is actually possible. That's why Equilibrium became a success, that's why The Matrix still pulls you in. The fact that a future like this could be in the works, where children are forced to fight each other to the death, over medicine, water, food and weapons, and then fight until only one remains standing, is very reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, except that here, there is no adult to intervene.
So when adults go on to play, it takes a child to bring a stop to their games. Katniss, for defying the rules of the game, becomes a political figure in her own right. But she pulls it off.
Which is rather odd, since with a title and a theme like this, I was expecting something a bit more chilling, or sudden, but the ending sort of creeps up on you when the President, angry at being defied, goes off to sulk.
All in all, The Hunger Games is not such a bad movie. It's a one-time watch. Despite somehow pulling out a 7.6 at IMDB, unless you've read the book before watching the movie, it tends to be forgettable.
So, final rating? 3/5.