In a future society, the extreme division between the haves and the have nots causes a revolution that is quickly quelled, resulting in an annual tradition for which teenagers are chosen at random to fight to the death in a reality TV show.
The Hunger Games is yet another variation of the “Running Man” story based on a popular teen novel. As usual the central character is a feisty heroine who is inevitably torn between two handsome love interests and most of the film resembles a cross between a photo love story and extreme orienteering. My biggest problem with The Hunger Games was that much of the most interesting aspects of the story happen off-screen; a violent popular uprising and the machinations of Donald Sutherland’s sinister President go largely unseen while we watch a bunch of implausibly pretty teens run around in the woods. The characterisation is also simplistic, the production design flat and unimaginative and it’s inevitably too humourless and long. But in its favour, the themes are interesting – if not properly explored – Jennifer Lawrence is as watchable as always and the direction and pacing are solid enough to prevent boredom.
In the end though, The Hunger Games is just a tamer, sappier and more po-faced version of the far superior Battle Royale, but it’s a decent enough substitute for those too young for its black humour and violence.