Monday, 2 April 2012

The Hunger Games, dir. Gary Ross, scr. Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray, st. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

Movies based on Young Adult literature are the new Hollywood manna. Tapping in to the vast reserves of predominantly female fans of plucky heroines, beefcake boyfs, and a smattering of pseudo-socio-political issuing, the industry has cottoned on to the fact that literary bestsellers can live out a regenerated second life in the multiplex. It's a safe bet, and a surefire hit. The oft-trod formula is played with and inventively spun, but always remains the same. Here, plucky heroine Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence), able huntswoman and nimble with bow, competes in the titular annual event in which 'tributes' from the different districts of a post-apocalyptic North America are amphitheatred in a brutal death-match against each other. In what is essentially a retelling of the Minotaur myth, writer Suzanne Collins has created an effective if a little unimaginative and predictable fable of her own that touches on themes of oppression, personal independence and loyalty. Lawrence makes a compelling Katniss worth rooting for, but the design is poor, uninspiringly deriving from a whole host of movies from THX 1138 to The Fifth Element. Even the Capitol looks like a city twinned with Naboo. Box Office receipts have been strong, but I can't help feeling young adults are ready for something more substantial.