First things first: I haven't read the books, and I hadn't a clue what I was about to watch. All I could garner from the trailers was that this was going to be another one of those generic, one-note dystopia stories; the kind which only exist in fiction, with societies based around an absurdly simple and obvious flaw. The Hunger Games is one of those movies, but that doesn't matter much. Hunger may be set in a one-note, backwards police state with terrible dress sense and a silly obsession with blood sports, but this isn't the focus of the story. The fascists who hold the games, and indeed the games themselves, are just the framing device to provide an interesting, cruel scenario in which children have to deal with killing one another for survival. The film does a good job of that. It is well acted, convincing, and the sense of misery and desperation really comes across. You feel bad for these teenagers, and you wonder how they are going to get out of this horrible situation. You wonder how you would get out of it. There are several elements that take you out of it, like the rubbish CGI, the obnoxious shaky-cam action, and the choice to make a bunch of the contestants into two-dimensional, jock, psychopathic assholes. That last one was especially annoying. If we are supposed to feel sorry for these kids, making most of them into unloveable jerks is counter-intuitive. Having contestants who were brainwashed into committing terrible acts would have been enough, but the film goes one step too far by showing them guffaw over dead twelve year olds. Only in the final showdown is one of the jocks given a chance to show his other side, but by then it is too little too late. You've already lumped them in with the fascist adults. I've been talking a lot about the negatives, but in spite of the films various flaws, I would still recommend it. People are going to compare it to Battle Royale or whatever, but Hunger tells its own story. I would even go so far as to say it tells its own story far better.
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