The Hunger Games (2012) – Film Review
Director: Gary Ross
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks
by Dan Berlinka
Largely exhilarating teen action adventure, from a popular novel aimed at teenage readers.
Admittedly there’s not a lot here you haven’t seen before in The Hunger Games. At times it feels like someone is dining liberally at an all-you-can-borrow buffet consisting of Logan’s Run, The Running Man, Series 7 and Battle Royale. And probably a few more besides.
But for the most part it succeeds through the simple strategy of casting it really well, then making it with wit, energy and heart.
Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role brings the same commitment to this fantasy that she brought to the rural-noir Winter’s Bone. Indeed, the early scenes in deprived ‘District 12’ make it look as if she’s walked straight from one film to the other.
“Credits its audience with intelligence”
But although she is undoubtedly responsible for much of the picture’s credibility, the young actors around her all give equally believable performances. While, just as in the narrative itself, there is fine grown up support from Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Lenny Kravitz
Despite the lengthy running time, director Gary Ross keeps things moving without any real longeurs. The low-key camerawork stops the action being a meaningless succession of explosions and ‘epic-ness’. This allows the largely off-screen violence to feel painful and like it has consequences.
And perhaps most refreshingly of all, the movie credits its audience with enough intelligence to not need spoon feeding or pandering to.