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There’s something about The Hunger Games that really gets under my skin. I think it hit me in the first film when the children were placed inside the arena and immediately started killing each other without a second thought, seemingly without any moral compass. This is potentially the most twisted plot concept I have ever encountered, and I know many people will complain that it’s not an original concept – the idea seems to come from a Japanese film Battle Royale) – but I think Suzanne Collins has created an entirely unique world for her story around this concept. The reasons behind The Hunger Games are very different: there are political currents running throughout that are disturbingly resonant with aspects of our own world. The whole emergence of revolution in the second film really gives a sense of the wider picture.
While the warped idea of The Hunger Games still runs throughout this film, it did not create the same sense of unease as the first part, because it is not children who enter the arena. Furthermore, alliances form, the competitors are united against a common enemy, and this enemy is outside the game. This gives the film more layers, and is a welcome step up from the simpler story-line of the first. The film begins with Katniss and Peeta touring the districts as the victors, which presents them as puppets of the Capitol and also gives us and them an insight into the unrest in the other districts. I always find The Hunger Games incredibly intense, and this first section almost reduced me to tears, as the tributes that died are remembered. This also highlights the parallels with reality television that run throughout the series, where the games are aired live to the public. Can we look at The Hunger Games, then, as an extreme version of Big Brother or I’m a Celebrity where children are fighting for their survival?
There are again beautiful costumes for Katniss during the publicity section before the games begin, and excellent performances from all the lead actors, with more from Liam Hemsworth as Gale than the previous film. There is a welcome newcomer to the cast, Sam Claflin, as the charismatic Finnick Odair, another tribute, and also the enigmatic new game-maker played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. The arena itself brings an incredibly interesting layout this time, and it includes a whole host of deadly things, including a pack of terrifying monkeys that I really did not enjoy. While I was wondering where the trilogy could go after the first film, (were they just going to keep repeating the games with different tributes?) this film mixed things up a bit, keeping it fresh, most notably in the ending which definitely came as a surprise. The film left me wanting more, and I’m almost tempted to read the book to find out what’s going to happen next. It’s well worth a watch: incredible visual effects, and one of the most intense films I’ve seen in years. You really do come out of the cinema slightly shell-shocked, I felt like I’d literally been through a war-zone.