Thursday, 15 March 2012

Why I Love The Hunger Games

I know it's a bore when someone goes on and on about how the book is better than the film.  Well I'm not going to do that... yet.  But don't be surprised if there are millions of people moaning about the Hunger Games adaptation soon after it comes out. 

I was late onto the bandwagon (as usual) but as soon as I heard the synopsis of the film, I thought it sounded like a great story and a book worth reading before the release of the film.  So I got the trilogy for Christmas and read the first part in February.  I expected I would be finishing it just in time for the release of the movie on 23rd March but actaually got through it in less than a week.  It's nail-biting, excrutiatingly exciting stuff.

I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't read it but I do want to share with you my excitement over one of my new favourite books.  Here's a brief synopsis:

'The Hunger Games details a world where the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem, which was once North America, forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games.  A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which Tributes must fight with one another until one survivor remains.'

In case you don't know, the protagonist is a young woman called Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence).  She is from District 12 and offers herself as 'tribute' to save her youngest sister from being forced into the brutal annual Hunger Games.  Katniss is skilled with the bow and arrow due to her years spent illegally hunting in the woods around her district.  She is feisty, independent, brave, clever and caring.

There have been lots of comparisons with Twilight.  Both The Hunger Games and Twilight are based on hugely successful books for young adults.  Both have a female protagonist with possibilities of romance with a pair of young studs.  But hopefully that's where the comparisons end.  The Hunger Games is far from soppy.  Yes there is the possibility of a love triangle but at least in the first book, this is the last thing on the heroine's mind and love is a luxury that she cannot afford.

In fact one of the most interesting things about the book is it's heavily feminist slant.  Ok so Katniss is tarted up for the Hunger Games opening ceremony but so are the male tributes.  Jennifer Lawrence may be stunningly gorgeous but she can also have a face like thunder with determined eyes and a frequent scowl that show her character's brave and thoughtful nature.  Just watch Lawrence's captivating and fierce performance in Winter's Bone to eliminate any doubts about whether she can handle the role of Katniss.

Katniss lost her father in a mine accident and has since been providing food for her starving family.  She hunts animals in the woods, barters with traders in the market and takes care of her little sister.  She is excellent with a bow and arrow and has had no time for love in her short life so far, despite spending a lot of time roaming the woods with her male best friend.

When she volunteers to enter the Hunger Games, she is taken away from her family and her hunting buddy Gale and thrown together with the district 12 male tribute Peeta.  He might be falling in love with her but Katniss has no illusions about the way the Hunger Games work.  It's kill or be killed and there is no chance for alliances and partnerships to survive in a battle to the death.

To say anymore would be to ruin it.  All I will say is that Katniss is no damsel in distress.  She is a born survivor and will do what it takes to get back to her family.  Let the Games begin...

The Hunger Games may have been compared to Twilight but it is so much more.  And judging by what they are saying over at Anomalous Material, The Hunger Games is going to open a can of whoop-ass all over the latest installment of that franchise.  I for one hope they are right.

If you're still thinking that it sounds crap, soppy, for kids, for girls or whatever, here's my top 5 list of reasons why you should jump aboard the Hunger Games bandwagon RIGHT NOW!

1.  Awesome female hero.  Could be as cool as Ripley and Sarah Connor.

2. It may not be the most orginal story in the world but it's been influenced by some great films and books: 1984, Battle Royale, The Running Man, Series 7: The Contenders to name a few.  Dystopian futures don't come much better realised or much more dystopian than this!

3. The casting is brilliant.  Lawrence is perfect; tough and beautiful for the boys while the two guys (Hutcherson and Hemsworth) add sex appeal for the ladies.  Donald Sutherland is in there as the President, Woody Harrelson as a former Hunger Games winner, Stanley Tucci as a TV host and Lenny Kravitz appears as Katniss' stylist.

4. The violence.  Yes they've just cut it to get a 12A rating but at least it's not a PG and you never know, perhaps one day they will relase a 15 rated version.  Anyway when the story is about kids as young as 12 fighting to the death in a specially designed arena filled with mutated creatures and brutal weaponry, I can understand the need to go easy on the gore.  When some of these kids get nailed, it's going to have an impact on the audience, whether you see the gore or not!  Trust me.

5. The contemporary relevance.  Reality TV, exploitation, the rising up of the masses.  Whilst reading the book, you are constantly reminded of the parallels with today's reality TV and society.  It really does not seem so far-fetched as the story takes in the savagery of audiences and producers alike.

So there you have it.  I've unleashed my inner teenager and screamed and fainted over the latest franchise.  I'm saving the remaining two books in the trilogy for after I see the first film and I'm hoping like hell that they are as good as the first book.  The UK premiere was last night so the reviews will be coming in shortly.  If you fancy a pretty quick and easy read, you've got a week to get through the book before the release of the film.  It will be worth it.

Who else will be seeing this as soon as possible and why do you love The Hunger Games?


What is The Hunger Games trilogy really all about?

Katniss consoles sister in new Hunger Games Catching Fire image

Catching Fire Victory Tour Poster

Why Jennifer Lawrence deserves Hunger Games best actress award

Other Dystopian visions of the future 


More popular posts at I Love That Film:

TV in 2013: Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Walking Dead, Homeland and more

Analysing La Haine

5 MUST SEE films at the BFI London Film Festival 2014

Valentines Day; Time for Romance

The Femme Castratrice in Horror

Why I Love The Hunger Games