|Not kidding around: competitors in The Hunger Games|
Here's some advice: stay alive. So advises a key character in The Hunger Games, the first film version of the Suzanne Collins books.
Like most fantasy fiction set in a dystopian future, everything is meant to reflect the present. Consider the bizarre ritual of The Reaping where, every year, 24 kids from 12 North American districts are chosen at random to fight to the death on reality TV. Is this a comment about growing up? Is it meant to be a comment on the process of going to war? About the age of reality TV?
And what do we make of the weird disparities of wealth in this fantasy future, where one half of the population seems to live in some kind of Rococo world inspired by the punk wigs of Amadeus, pink and blue cotton candy and Nikki Minaj? They seem to enjoy the ritual of The Reaping and its violence, not unlike Romans enjoying the gladiator pits or the Spanish bull-fighting. The movie's star is the talented Jennifer Lawrence. As noted by Ebert, her character here could well be a manifestation of the character she played in the great film, Winter's Bone.
The film comes across as a mix of The Truman Show, Apocalypto and The Lord of the Flies. It features a relatively uncommon love triangle at its centre and manages to maintain suspense throughout. The adventure elements of the film work, but the real star is the politics of this world, right up to the last shot which leaves you wanting more. Next movie please!