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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Hunger Games [DVD]
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
All science fiction futuristic societies are written to have a message about the current day. This is normally contained within the text, or a line someone speaks. The movie starts giving us some background for the games, but we don't know why there was a rebellion in the first place, something that is in the book. The rebellion resulted in a lottery where teens from the various districts must now compete in a survivor battle to the death, all for the entertainment of the audience. Early in the film we hear, "If no one watches, we won't have a game." In other words if we stop watching reality TV shows, they will be taken off the air...not exactly a bad thing.

In those other films the evil of society had been either, capitalism, socialism, the super rich, corporations, religion, or science. The irony of the film/book is that it makes fun of the viewer/reader for enjoying it. They are the problem with today's voyeuristic dummy down society, which like the movie can be divided into two groups" Those who see the movie/games as entertainment. And the intellectuals who realize the metaphor contained within. I'm loving it! (Pardon my pop culture response, but it seems apropos.)

There is a stark contrast in wealth and dress between those who participate in the games and the society who runs them. However, it is those who participate who ultimately empower those who run them, just like with war, the second message of the film which dates from Homer "War is old men lying, young men dying."

Jennifer Lawrence, who I thought was Oscar worthy in "Winter's Bone," immediately becomes our heroine when she volunteers to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games. We don't expect her to die anytime soon. As the fighting begins I kept wondering if they were going to simply fight for everyone's entertainment or are we going to get a Captain Kirk/Agorn moment when he has defeated his opponent and refuses to kill him shouting, "You are going to have to get your entertainment elsewhere!" Or maybe we could end it like "Death Race 2000" where Frankenstein kills the president...but I am getting way ahead of myself.

The victims, or tributes as they are called, are paraded and cheered having done nothing...similar to reality show TV "stars." (Yes I mean you talentless Snooki.) People wildly cheer because...they can. Woody Harrelson helps to bridge the time from when Jennifer Lawrence is selected until the fighting begins. Donald Sutherland appears as an unrealistic unlikeable President Snow, a composite character representing the evil of society. There are interviews and pageantry prior to the games during which time we get to know more about Jennifer and very little about the other contestants. It would have been nice to have known some of the quirky combatants and have them killed in ironic ways to their character, but maybe that was too much to ask about a film about shallow entertainment.

Jennifer, with her honesty and rebellious attitude has become the fan favorite and our favorite because she is the only contestant that we know. She lacks the killer instinct...until she must. Alliances form and everyone wants to get the fan favorite aka Rambette Jennifer Lawrence, who did an excellent job to give girls a heroine being both a compassionate woman and a huntress. Like all reality TV shows, when the drama starts to fade the program directors add an element to push it in the direction that they want.

No f-bombs, sex, or nudity. "Safe" for kids to watch.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The film version of the first book in a hugely popular trilogy of young adult science fiction dystopian novels comes to dvd, after a hugely successful cinema release.

For those who haven't read the book:

Near future America. Now called Panem. Somewhen after a devastating war. The country is divided into twelve districts. Some of which are richer than others. All provide vital resources. And all are ruled over by the capitol. Ever since the war, by way of punishment, each district has to send two teenagers to the capital every year for the hunger games. One male. One female. Twenty four competitors. They go into a sealed environent. Fight to the death. And only one can come out.

It's reality tv taken to the extreme. The stylish residents of the capital love the hunger games and betting on who will win.

Impoverished mining district 12 has only ever had one winner in all the years of the games. But when Katniss Everdeen, district 12 resident, a girl who helps support her family via hunting, since she's a crackshot with a bow, has to volunteer to take part in the games in order to save her sister from them, her world will never be the same again. Katniss is a loner, but she has to get used to the world of the capital. Working with other people, from her would be mentor to fellow competitor Peeta, a boy she barely knows. And she will have to fight to survive if she ever wants to see her family again....

The world of the hunger games sees people hooked on questionable reality tv. It sees a privileged and wealthy elite ruling a world where the poorer people feel ever more disenfrancished. And it sees a girl learning to trust and work with others and to do the right thing. It has lots of themes. Plus an excellent and strong central character. Someone who doesnt have superpowers, but is a credible and believable creation thus someone you can relate to. This is why the books are so popular.

Near future science fiction is a tricky thing to get right because, as they say, the one thing you can be sure about in regards to the future is that it won't look anything like we expect it will. But there's some excellent design work here which does go a long way towards creating a credible future society. From the impoversished mining area of district 12 to the bright fashions and futuristic buildings of the capital.

Jennifer Lawrence is perfect casting in the lead, bringing Katniss superbly to life.

Since the book was written entirely in first person present tense, the movie opts to focus on Katniss via lots of moments when she has no dialogue and moments of violence being done via fast moving handheld steadicams. It's an approach that succeeds, thanks also to the strength of the character and the portrayal.

It also opens the story out somewhat by having scenes that Katniss doesnt appear in. This being a change from the book. But these succeed because they show more of her world and add extra depth to some of the characters. There are two whom readers of the book might think differently about come the end as a result.

The casting of all the supporting characters is also good, Donald Sutherland in particular making President Snow a credible creation and a good three dimensional character.

In order to get a certificate that would allow younger viewers to watch, this is somewhat toned down from the book, all the violence as mentioned being fast and blurry and there being no blood. Even so this and the themes of the story mean a twelve certificate is about right and it wouldn't be ideal for anyone younger.

Readers of the book will find some minor changes but those are there to make it work as a movie, and it does that very well. If you really want to know all the differences then an internet search will bring up a lengthy articles that detail all of them But there's really nothing too major.

Half the film is the build up to the games. The other is the games themselves. Despite this the pace of the first half never drags. There are quieter and slower moments in the second half so it's not quite as pacy but that's down to there being some quieter moments during this period.

This is a very good adaptation of a strong novel, and a fine bit of science fiction for our times as well. And it's worth five stars.

The disc has the following language and subtitle options:

Subtitles; English.

Languages: English.

It begins with a few trailers but you can skip these via the next button on the dvd remote.

This is also a dvd of the kind they hardly make anymore. A two disc edition, the second disc being laden with extras.

Game Maker: A thirteen minute long feature about the origin of the book and it's popularity. Featuring lots of contributions from readers and fans and publishers. Book writer Suzanne Collins is a bit conspicuous by her absence though.

The world is watching: a two hour long making of documetary. This can be watched all at once, or in one of eight shorter sections. These range in length from nine to twenty minutes. This is a great feature for budding film makers as director Gary Ross is an excellent contributor, going into great detail about all sorts of creative choices and matters.

Letters from the Rose Garden: a nine minute long feature about Donald Sutherland and how he got the role of President Snow. It features him reading an email he sent Gary Ross with his thoughts on the character, which is superbly written and very well read. Thus this feature is highly recommended viewing.

Controlling the games; a five minute long feature, with more from Gary Ross, all about the design of the games control room.

A conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell. A fifteen minute long chat between the director and a film critic, the latter asking some interesting questions about a few of the issues the movie raises. A lot of the running time of this is simply clips from the film, but the rest is thoughtful viewing.

Propaganda film: a two minute long feature, showing the film that you see in the movie which tells the origin of the Hunger Games.

Marketing archive; two short galleries of all the various posters for the film and stills from it's production.

Great movie. Great extras. Excellent Dvd as a whole.
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on 7 October 2012
For starters I haven't read the books. I have too much of a backlog of books to read that there was no point before the movie came out. I have put them on the end of that backlog now....

I have to admit I didn't expect much from this movie. I have heard mixed reviews and a lot of people (not everyone) that HAD read the books were saying this was pretty bad compared to the books. Not surprising because movies adapted from books rarely are as good as the books. My perception of this movie was that it was going to be aimed at teens (as a 42 yr old the one sure way to put me off a movie is telling me it's cast are mainly teenagers). Many teen movies are sub standard and I've learned to avoid them. This movie though was based on a series of critically acclaimed books so I had to give it a go and I'm glad that I did. It has a brilliant cast (mainly not teens) but a round of applause for Jennifer Lawrence. She was fantastic and as the lead she drove the movie forward was charismatic, mature, sympathetic, exciting ... just plain excellent.

I am glad I got the movie, look forward to the sequels and those books are now on order to fit somewhere at the end of my long backlog (they might jump the queue a bit)....
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133 of 162 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 September 2012
Firstly I have read the books and I loved them. They were brutal, funny, tragic, romantic and heartwrenching. Everything a good adventure novel should be.
So it was I was waiting eagerly for the film. I never got the chance to see it at the cinema; but based on the numerous good reviews I preordered the blu-ray. I really enjoyed the film; but as with many other reviewers I felt that the book was better.
The book spent much more time establishing characters and relationships and I really liked that. Obviously, with the book being in first person, everything was from Katniss' perspective - but that only serves to makes you sympathize with her predicament and those around her more. Her relationships with Peeta and Rue go much deeper in the book and I felt the film foolishly downplayed these moments. Likewise, the other contestants in the games seemed vastly under utilised in the film; and as a result they either became unimportant or impotent. Cato was a fierce and imposing killer in the book - but reduced merely to a brooding bully in the film (albeit one with a sword).
Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the film and I'm glad I bought it, but I just wish it been a little better. However, I am sure when I watch it again - knowing everything that's changed or omitted - I will enjoy it much more. I felt the same way with Twilight - hated it on first viewing.
I look foward to Catching Fire and Mockingjay!
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on 4 November 2012
OK - first up, I'm a dad with older teenage daughters and had never heard of Hunger Games. My 18 year old badgered me into going to see the film and I'm so glad she did. It beat all my expectations so much so that I bought the dvd and we've watched it a couple of times now. I had not read the book so had no pre-conceived ideas about how characters should look or behave. As far as I'm concerned the look and feel of the film is spot on and yes, some of the high 'fashion', and the counterpoint between the opulence of The Capital and the outlying districts is a bit silly but the whole thing works well. Think of a blend of Big Brother, Roller Ball and throw in a dash of 'I'm a Celebrity...' for good measure.
So, on the back of the film I read the books. The first book - Hunger Games - is pretty good but it hasn't changed my view on the film one bit - the book and the film co-exist very well. The second book is OK but I was really disappointed by the third. As a trilogy it seems to loose it way and everything gets a bit mushy so it will interesting to see how these translate to film.
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123 of 151 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2012
Having read all the Hunger Games books I could not wait for this to come out in the cinema but part of me was worried that making such a complex book into a movie would not be possible (lets face it most books are miles better than the movies due to the simple fact they can go into a lot more detail)but I have to say I did not need to be worried in the slightest, I loved it that much I ended up going to see it twice!

The film is set in the future in an american nation called Panem which is split into districts. Each year the capitol of Panem forces each district to volunteer up a boy and a girl to compete in the annual "Hunger Games" as punishment for rising up against the capitol many years ago.
As the 74th Hunger Games is about to start Katniss Everdeen finds her 12 year old sister is chosen to compete, knowing she would never make it out alive Katniss offers herself in her sisters place and from then on is put into the arena with all the other tributes to fight for her life.
However there is one slight problem - Peeta Mellark, the boy who once saved her life is in the arena with her and how can she bring herself to kill him when she just might be falling in love with him.

This film does the book justice and it actually follows the majority of the book down to the very lines spoken.
The acting is amazing from everyone in the film, it is without a doubt Jennifer Lawrence's best movie yet!

I can't wait to own such an amazing movie, I'm sure it is going to be one I will watch again and again!
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on 1 November 2012
This is a good movie, and overall I felt a very accurate representation of the novel.
However, the lead actress was unconvincing physically as Katniss, despite giving a thoroughly enjoyable performance. At 5'9" and "well-built", the image of a small, starvling child was difficult to conjure up - without having read the novel first, I'd have been hard pressed to reconcile the film with it's title. Little "Hunger" in evidence.
I also forsee some difficulties arising in the sequels as this rather tougher character will be difficult to give a convincing breakdown, and while Woody Harleson's character was entertaining, he had none of the edge of a man driven to despair by the loss of family, and of mentoring 25 years of unsuccessful tributes - where was the tragedy of 50 childs lives in his hands? Played too much for laughs for me where a darker tone would have been welcome.
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on 29 September 2013
I thought this film was pretty good in the build up to the games, but was rushed when it got down to the nitty-gritty. We don't get to know the other 'tributes' well enough. I can't help but compare with Battle Royale where I felt that I got to know a larger number of characters, see their alliances and relationships, and learn how and by whom each is eliminated. In the Hunger Games I was expecting a few more showdowns between some of the fiercer competitors, some dark horses, some betrayal; but nobody bar the two central characters was on screen for long enough.

A couple of smaller points: The sudden introduction of some 'extra jeopardy' at the end (I'm trying to avoid a spoiler here) felt like a leap in technology that didn't seem apparent in their world until that point. And I found Peetas cake decorating survival technique a bit odd and comedic.
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on 17 September 2012
Having read the book first i was hoping this would be as brilliant. Shame it wasn't. My personal feelings would be to watch the film to get an idea of what's happening, then read the book.

I know films cannot depict every little detail from the book, but the movie seems to be hurried past what makes the book a fantastic read, and have of what made me read on with the book, didn't pull me in through the film medium. Don't get me wrong, the film is good and is worth a watch, as my partner really got pulled through and was engrossed all the way through the film, but I was sadly hoping for more.

Hope they bring out the sequels for this, as the characters are played to a tea, and deserve a lot of credit.

3/5 from me and a 5/5 from my partner - Overall satisfying watch and a thrilling film.
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on 13 September 2012
Ok, I'll admit I read the book before the movie and was entering into the movie theatre with a lot of expectations. But I'm not going to be overly critical in my review, as it was really well made and they hit up on the most important parts of the book.

My only let down is that while the most vital scenes were in it, there were smaller parts I would have liked to have been included, such as in the book, the wildcats that we're sent after Katniss and Peeta were actually the dead contestants brought back and mutated?

(I'm positive I remember this being in the book, and I really think it should have been a scene)

Other than this, I loved the scenes between Katniss and Rue. Perfectly adapted IMO.
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