Friday, March 30, 2012

Hunger Games

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 23rd March, 2012
Time : 142 minutes
Director & Co-Writer : Gary Ross; Co-Writers :Billy Ray, Suzanne Collins (based on the novel by Suzanne Collins); Music : T-Bone Burnett, James Newton Howard
Starring : Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Alexander Ludwig, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Brooke Bundy

There have been many movies made about winners take all, losers die kind of competitions. I remember Arnold Schwarznegger in ‘The Running Man’ and even the deliciously dark ’13 Tzameti

Here’s another. Which focuses not on the killing / fight sequences but other aspects.
Nicely done, plausibly constructed. Combining the concept of beauty pageants / popularity contests with the blood & gore quite well by introducing the concept of sponsors.

12 districts have to send one male and female contestant, randomly picked, to these games. There is a little bit of pride at stake here, with the district providing the winner cheering etc. But the objective of the games is not to celebrate sport or strength but rather it is a punishment to remind the districts of a failed rebellion.
The Capitol, which rules over the districts, is ultra high tech, rich, beautiful and people there don’t seem to have to put too much effort in earning a living. In the districts, the focus is clearly on where your next meal is going to come from. People live in shanty town structures, have to hunt to supplement their food quota, normal professions are being a miner or store keeper and people indulge in barter to sustain themselves.
Jennifer volunteers (a first) when her kid sister is picked as the female district representative. Her journey before and during the Games is the focus of the film. How some of the districts pick people and train them for the Games. How they have to dress up to please sponsors. What skills to show or not show ? How to get the attention of the committee that rates the different competitors ? And once in the field, how to deal with the challenges thrown at them by the GameMaster ? Or the constantly shifting alliances amongst the competitors ?

The freshness of the faces is a huge positive. The eccentric behavior, clothing and mannerisms of the Capitol dwellers vs the humdrum lives of the districts could well be the difference of The Darkness and The Shining India referred to by Aravind Adiga in The White Tiger.
The movie belongs to Jennifer, with her clear, grey blue eyes, her hesitant shyness, her introverted nature, which is step by step moulded differently. Woody Harrelson is good in his cameo. The other competitors give a great account of themselves with special mentions for Josh & Alexander. The compere, the stylist, the Gamemaster, all the Capitol crowd, manage to carry off their not so easy roles.

What I didn’t like about it was its predictability. There are twists but none that make you sit up or conceive of different endings. What I liked was its freshness, its way of combining the action with a human story and the questions it raised. Are we, in India or even the BRICS countries, progressing towards something like the Capitol vs Districts ?

No comments: