The Hunger Games – In Reality

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This film has a powerful concept that has been watered down to become a very bad reality show. Like Survivor, there’s a progressive system of elimination but, instead of contestants voting off other members, they actually kill them. This may sound dramatic but, in the event, it’s not.

The country known as the United States has collapsed and it is now known as Panem. It’s split into 12 Districts and ruled by a government known as Capitol. 74 years before, the peasants of Panem rose up against their austere rulers but, tragically, their rebellion failed. Their surrender terms dictate that every year each District send one boy and one girl to appear in a televised event called “The Hunger Games”. These 24 children have to fight to the death and only one child is allowed to survive. The participants are selected by lottery and, when 16-year-old Katniss’ (Jennifer Lawrence) young sister is chosen, Katniss volunteers to go in her place.

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When this film starts, it fails to set up a sense of time and place. At first it feels as if it’s the middle-ages, with peasants living in hovels and hunting wild prey for food. The arrival of Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), a 19th Century Lady Gaga, changes the tone and, when the participants are put on a train with a dining car, it feels bizarre. The government headquarters are essentially futuristic but most other things are present day and, after a while, it all seems like a potpourri with a strange smell.

When the participants are chosen, they are virtually being condemned to death, yet none of them show as much as a modicum of resentment towards their murderers. They are all polite, and compliant, and when they get told off for not putting their best foot forward, they are fawningly apologetic. This is not how we want our heroes to behave, and witnessing their subservience becomes rather tedious after a while. It’s hard to route for someone who has no desire to route for themselves.

The audience is told that this ‘fight to the death’ will be played out in an arena, which conjures up visions of ancient Christians being fed to the lions. However, in the event, the arena is a forest, the game lasts for days, and the tension is at zero. While the Romans are not to be admired for finding entertainment in humans having their flesh torn apart by lions, at least it shows they had a sense of drama.

RELEASE DATES

Belgium – 21 March 2012

France – 21 March 2012

Netherlands – 21 March 2012

Philippines – 21 March 2012

Argentina – 22 March 2012

Australia – 22 March 2012

Bahrain – 22 March 2012

Denmark – 22 March 2012

Germany – 22 March 2012

Greece – 22 March 2012

Hong Kong – 22 March 2012

Hungary – 22 March 2012

Indonesia – 22 March 2012

Israel – 22 March 2012

Kuwait – 22 March 2012

Malaysia – 22 March 2012

New Zealand – 22 March 2012

Portugal – 22 March 2012

Russia – 22 March 2012

Singapore – 22 March 2012

Slovenia – 22 March 2012

Ukraine – 22 March 2012

United Arab Emirates – 22 March 2012

Brazil – 23 March 2012

Bulgaria – 23 March 2012

Canada – 23 March 2012

Colombia – 23 March 2012

Estonia – 23 March 2012

Finland – 23 March 2012

Ireland – 23 March 2012

Mexico – 23 March 2012

Norway – 23 March 2012

Poland – 23 March 2012

Romania – 23 March 2012

Sweden – 23 March 2012

Turkey – 23 March 2012

UK – 23 March 2012

USA – 23 March 2012

Chile – 29 March 2012

Vietnam – 30 March 2012

Lithuania – 6 April 2012

South Africa – 13 April 2012

Spain – 20 April 2012

Italy – 1 May 2012