CRITICALLY SPEAKING: The Hunger Games (12a) by Graham Chalmers

Jennfier Lawrence in The Hunger Games.
Jennfier Lawrence in The Hunger Games.

LET’S get to the heart of the matter – right now Hollywood is in one of its worst phases, certainly when it comes to mass appeal, big budget movies.

Spurred by the advent of CGI and revival of 3D, most productions have dispensed with believable characterization and strong narrative leaving them devoid of any real emotional impact, resulting, ironically, in a two-dimensional experience.

Despite its origins as a teen movie, The Hunger Games bucks this trend in a quietly mature fashion.

It’s not so much that this Logan’s Run for the Twilight generation, Spartacus for the cyber age, Battle Royale for Britain’s Got Talent fans, credits its audience with great intelligence, though it’s far from a stupid film.

It’s simply that it expects its audience to have the patience to be entertained without recourse to hyper-active editing and flashy spectacle.

Despite a series of action scenes, the strength of this well thought-out relocation of today’s X Factor culture into a dystopian future lies in its sense of humanity, in the strength of its characters and the way their story is allowed to unfold in an unforced manner.

As played by the highly impressive Jennifer Lawrence (as the feisty young Katniss) and Josh Hutcherson (potential boyfriend Peeta Mellark), our two unlucky heroes, plucked from their impoverished communities into a televised game of death for the entertainment of society’s rich masters, behave as you would expect real youngsters to behave.

Even better are the supporting cast of adults in this Orwellian future world – Donald Sutherland as the sinister President Coriolanus Snow, Stanley Tucci as an outlandish TV host and, best of all, Woody Harrelson as drunken mentor Haymitch Abernathy, who very nearly steals the film.

I’m not saying this Truman Show for the teens, Rollerball for Harry Potter fans, is a work genius.

It’s simply a solid story, told and acted well from start to finish, a film which doesn’t assume that we, the ticket-buying public, are empty-headed fools dying to be dazzled by another bit of CGI.