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This feature involves a die-hard fan writing a review and their friend, a novice, also reviews it. Has time and multiple plays blinded the fan? Does it work outside the time it was released? Is the noob just plain wrong? You be the judge.

FAN:

I was eager to read The Hunger Games before seeing the film, of the same name. In the US the book, film and soundtrack all topped the charts in one week and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about, suffice to say I was won over. After reading the book I lowered my expectations and went to see the film.

The pressure was on for the latest teen film adaptation but it successfully stayed true to the novel. Suspense was an important attraction of the book though it wasn’t quite as potent, luckily the plot was so condensed that The Hunger Games was still gripping.

The Hunger Games is often compared to The Twilight Saga but it was great to see a young action thriller where the romance wasn’t the focal point and the action wasn’t just part of the background. Fans have concentrated on the love triangle but the political drama takes the forefront and is a lot more interesting, making the series all the more enjoyable for those of us no longer in the throes of puberty.

I haven’t read Battle Royale but I’m a big fan of the films and I think it’s the real competitor to The Hunger Games. During the film, however, I was blood thirsty, I wanted more violence and gore to really show how out of control the post-apocalyptic reality TV is and was left somewhat disappointed.

One of the best things about the film was the believable setting, the threadbare poor versus the vulgar rich. Each part of society was a believable product of the future, even if the main characters looked a bit too well fed and polished.

In the end, the film is as good as they could make it. Though the film can’t hold a candle to the books, every depiction is merely a shadow of the image and depth you can get on the page. I look forward to the next film but I’m unlikely to watch them more than once, whereas I’m itching to crack open the books for the second time.

Serena Doherty

NOOB:

It’s always nice to go into a film with absolutely no expectations. I had only the vaguest knowledge, that the film was based on a book, but nothing about the content. So, coming out of the cinema I was rather chuffed that I’d enjoyed a decent action thriller. I wouldn’t say it was the best film in the world, nor would I say it was the most original, but it was good.

The film, and I’m guessing the books, revolves around Cagnes…Evergreen? I don’t even know if that’s right, but it’s the kind of apparently-normal world in this bleak future. Actually, I think it might be set in the Firefly universe; the utopian rich, symbolised through garish hair styles, vast cold-looking buildings and anti-gravity ships is at stark contrast to the technologically broken, somewhere around industrial-revolution era technology (with bows) poor. The similarities extend to the music too, making me wonder when Captain Reynolds would come by and hand out brown coats to everyone.

I digress.

I actually thought that, although no specific attention was detailed of the universe, it was quite an interesting one. What had happened? Why has this class-divide lasted for several decades and seemingly nothing been done about it? It’s a theme that comes up every-so-often, but very much plays a background to the main action, Battle Roya…I mean The Hunger Games. Actually, no I don’t. Whilst the explanation of why school-aged children are thrown into an arena of death is different, it’s readily apparent that what we have here is a 12A rated Battle Royale. And it shows.

Case in point, there’s a romantic element (guh!) that’s played for drama throughout. There’s one scene where these two characters start kissing and they wake up in the morning lying next to each other. In Battle Royale, we’d have known they had sex. Instead here, I know that they should’ve, but because violence is acceptable and sex isn’t, it wasn’t. That’s the advantage Battle Royale has – it’s more visceral. Whilst the shaky-cam first-person perspective sort of covers for all of the hard-to-make-out violence, as you feel like you’re on the receiving end of every blow, there’s just no guttural feeling to it all.

The plot is otherwise fairly hum-drum. Our protagonist is, for want of a better word, perfect. Oh, sure, she’s a bit snarky, but it’s played to an advantage of character and any time there’s something she can do that’s heart-warming, she’ll do it, everyone will go “d’awwwww” and you’ll be inclined to think “Yeah, I mean, she’s totally the bitchy person we’re shown.” Again, it’s not bad, it’s just a bit shallow. Indeed, most of the characters are one-trick ponies, including one hilariously-dangerous stereotypical black guy who we only see as being violent. Sure, he has one act of mercy, after brutally slamming a girl into a wall and knocking her dead. Yeah, she deserved it, but I felt a tad uneasy when it was only him and the white alpha-male who were the hyper-violent types.

So, the action is okay, the plot works well and the characters are acceptable at best, kinda weak at worst. There aren’t any punches pulled, but they weren’t that strong in the first place. Going for it though is a great presentation, with scenery that looks impressive, a pretty good pace that whilst it could afford to chop about 20/30 minutes off works well regardless and an admittedly decent hook for the inevitable sequel.

It’s a good film that’s better than the sum of its parts, but I only really question why you’d choose to watch this over the superior Battle Royale.

Joel Goodman

SOMETHING SILLY:

The Hunger Games Parody

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