On Wikipedia, there’s a massive paragraph in the article on Suzanne Collins’ book The Hunger Games, arguing why it is not a Battle Royale rip-off. A quote from Collins suggests “I had never heard of that book or that author until my book was turned in. At that point, it was mentioned to me, and I asked my editor if I should read it. He said: ‘No, I don’t want that world in your head. Just continue with what you’re doing’.” Much as I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt, I find it highly unlikely that she never once decided to do an Internet search of her chosen subject, which is essentially a load of dystopian teenagers fighting in a massive arena. Anyway, it’s a moot point as both films have now been made, and The Hunger Games simply wilts in the wake of it’s awesome oriental predecessor.
While the main plot is the same, the set-up is a bit different, and much more boring. We follow Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a rather intense and unfriendly girl who is good at hunting. We’re in a dystopian future where, every year, a reality show called The Hunger Games is broadcast to the nation for entertainment. No points for guessing what happens in these ‘Games’. Katniss volunteers herself for them after her younger sister is chosen.
Now, the comparisons can begin. When I watched the film, I thought that this was a Hollywood remake of Battle Royale gone wrong. Even though I know that the films supposedly have nothing to do with each other, I can’t help comparing them. For one thing, whilst the action in Battle Royale starts after about twenty minutes – and before that there’s a gritty murder and other exciting stuff – we have to wait an excruciating 65 minutes before the start of the so-called Hunger Games. What happens before then? Some reality TV shit. Contestants meet with an annoying blue-haired version of whatever Dara O’Briain is to The Apprentice. Katniss isn’t nice to people. Whoop-de-fucking-do. GET ON WITH IT!
And then, when the games start, they aren’t that good anyway. The problem with this film is that it takes itself far too seriously. In Battle Royale they got the tone just right. The idea of teenagers killing each other because some authority says so is quite ridiculous, so those Japanese producers made a ridiculous movie. The sombre tones and grim feel of this movie is aggravating, not least because the characters aren’t that interesting to begin with. The movie ends with the two lead characters simply winning the contest. That’s it? They win? How awfully predictable. I was hoping for a bit more than that, Collins. For a far more interesting ending, see Battle Royale.
I simply don’t rate this movie whatsoever. The idea is interesting, but is executed in such a dull fashion that I gave up paying attention before the Games had even begun. Battle Royale is where it’s at. End of.