Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to compete.
After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
David O. Russell
Robert De Niro
In a dystopian future, the totalitarian nation of Panem is divided between 12 districts and the Capitol. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal retribution for a past rebellion, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors while the citizens of Panem are required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. Written by
Not comparing this to Battle Royale is impossible - the premise is too similar to be ignored. I'm extremely biased as well, considering Battle Royale is one of my all-time favorite films/books/graphic novels. So let's get this rant out of the way: The Hunger Games takes the concept of Battle Royale and waters it down to a product more accessible to a wider audience, specifically the younger crowd. My biggest problem with this is it loses the impact of Battle Royale - a frightening, beautiful, orgiastic display of shocking violence and social commentary. What makes it so twisted is that the contestants are all fellow students and friends, and we get to know many of the students, making their deaths more disturbing. In The Hunger Games, we follow two contestants and the rest are nameless, and with the exception of one young black girl, their deaths are meaningless (and mostly off-screen). The fact that the violence is so much more tame seems irresponsible - we don't see how horrific and terrifying it would be. The characters in The Hunger Games are black-and-white, good and evil with no grey areas, whereas the characters in Battle Royale feature heroes, antiheroes, complete monsters, and terrified teens. They're plunged into a situation and act like normal teens would, freaking out, committing suicide, going ax crazy, professing love, etc.
As a film, The Hunger Games is certainly not bad - it's a well-made, well-acted spectacle that is entertaining albeit predictable. It takes its time getting to the action, but when the contestants are finally released it's thrilling (there's also a particularly intense scene involving a wasp's nest). It's probably the best we can expect from what a predictable Hollywood remake of Battle Royale would look like - significantly toned down, with a gorgeous cast, and a soundtrack featuring Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, and a couple good indie bands (as opposed to Battle Royale's classical music). I also like that The Hunger Games focuses more on the media aspect of the game, which was mostly ignored in Battle Royale. It's much less melodramatic than Battle Royale as well. The bizarre costume designs are great too.
TL;DR - It all comes down to taste. If you prefer fantasy stories, don't like subtitles, and have no desire to see kids kill each other in over-the-top gory fashion, you'll like The Hunger Games. If you're a fan of horror, exploitation, or extreme Asian cinema, you'll like Battle Royale. I prefer the latter, but The Hunger Games could've been a lot worse.
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