Five years ago there was an action film called 'The Condemned' that had released and made many look at the 'commercialisation of human lives' in the name of entertainment. The film was about 10 odd men and women thrown into a jungle where their only mission was to kill everyone else and come out alive. All this was captured on camera which was beamed live on internet as millions watched the gruesome action drama unfold.
Circa 2012 and the basic concept has moved leagues ahead. This time around there is a socio-political-economic angle added to the plot where 24 boys and girls fight it out even as it is the Government itself that gives a green signal to the entire mayhem. A futuristic tale which is set in a land (named Panem) which was once North America, the film is an adaptation of a novel by the same name.
Of course since blood and gore forms the basic premise of the film, director Gary Ross goes with the flow and doesn't shy away from showing things as is in the way they should be. In the process it does become a little too gruesome for those who are used to watching popcorn action entertainers instead of something that follows a realistic route. However it is also expected that those who are stepping into the film would be well aware of the disturbing visuals, given the fact that the promos have well established what indeed is in the offering.
The film is told from the eyes of Jennifer Lawrence, a young girl on whom the story is hinged. As someone who volunteers to participate in this 'game', even though it's her much younger sister who has been the 'chosen one' to get into the killing, Jennifer is believable though does come across as a tad raw in a couple of sequences. Of course since she has to sink her teeth into a difficult part, one has to give Jennifer that breathing space to still come across as convincing for a large part of the drama. Having said that, one can expect that the girl, who hasn't quite been a popular face globally till now, would be known much better from this point on.
The boy who is reasonably popular though is Josh Hutcherson, the one amongst the many whom Jennifer has to fight against. Seen quite recently in 'Journey 2: The Mysterious Island' and a couple of other films where he has come across as a tad wooden, he does register a presence in 'The Hunger Games' which is basically a Jennifer show. The vulnerability on his face pretty much projects the predicament he is going through even as he is put into this game. In a helpless situation where he has to fight out the very girl whom he loves his childhood, Josh does well to bring on some tender moments in an out and out action affair like this.
As for the action then well, it pretty much justifies the space that it has been placed. With a forest setting to it (and hence only making references to 'The Condemned' further obvious), the film benefits immensely as a largely alien land comes with it various possibilities of dangers lurking at any corner. In this context director Gary Ross does well to keep viewers on the edge of the seat. Not to mention a strong technical team in charge of the cinematography, sound design, background score and action choreographer who come together to make 'The Hunger Games' an overall engaging affair.
However what makes the film special is the fact that despite reaching out to audience as a largely action affair, it also throws in a message or two without making it way too obvious or on your face. Now that's where the film scores it's biggest win.