Set in a dystopian landscape, where the capital city resembles a modern fortress replete with ultra chic people and modern amenities, and the country people who have been subdued and divided into twelve areas called Districts, are poor and eking out a survival, the premise of the film is spelt upfront. The story is essentially based on the haves and have-nots, and tries to create an Orwellian era with no geography or history clearly spelt out.
Typically Hollywood in detailing, execution and scale of sets, the film fails on some essential counts such as story and relevance.
'Reaping' is an annual event that reminds the people of these 12 districts the struggles that it took to ‘free’ them and also reminds them of the pains of insurrection that took place before the 'peace'. The Hunger wars are held every year where in a girl and a boy from each of the districts are selected and the twenty four of them engage in a survival challenge in which only one survivor would emerge from. They are subjected to tough terrain, survival skills and situations that eventually boil down to them killing each other to be the sole survivor.
But for the shocking premise which the film bases itself on, along with its satire on Capitalism that commercialises this solemn event to a high tech reality TV show , this should have been an introspective satire with allusions to current times rather than a game show it ends up becoming. The shock value gets lost somewhere in the first half and you stop feeling for the protagonists thereafter.
I was reminded of 'Apocalypto' and 'The Condemned' while watching this one but not for long. The shock paled in comparison with Apocalypto while 'The Condemned' although, a flimsy one, quite stole the thunder from this one by being the original reality TV based film. So while novelty wasn't this film's USP, The satire could have been.