First, I must say that this is a film geared towards teens - you might say duh, obviously - but I've witnessed many teenage films that are still enjoyable by any intellectual adult such as Thirteen. This is not one of those. Hailed as the next Twilight, I would be inclined towards consent. It is certainly more interesting than the Twilight series in my opinion and the stories show great promise. I cannot speak on behalf of the series of books because I have not read any of them but I have seen all the movies and witnessed the thousands of screaming and wooing teens in the theater. In fact when I attended the midnight showing of the second Twilight I could not even find a single seat in no less than 11 theaters!
The movie takes place in one of many possible dystopian futures. It's important to note that this is not a new story - The Most Dangerous Game was published in 1924 by Richard Connell and subsequently made into classic film in 1932. Many other films have played on the idea of people, young or old, placed into an arena of death and murderous intent - for what - bloodthirsty pleasure viewing of course. It's the modern day gladiator ring spelled out in the fantasy of literature and celluloid. Appropriate for teenagers? I leave that to you.
Jennifer Lawrence is the lead - interesting it is, that the last two great teen novels series have had a strong female presence - she is very good in the role and has shown real talent since she first came into public consciousness with Winter's Bone. This movie has a little more appeal towards male audiences than just appeasing their girlfriends, it has decent action and a girl that many guys would do well to chase after. She is smart, beautiful and most important, clever and able to survive in difficult situations.
This movie suffers from it's lack of clear direction, poor cinematography, abject character development and most likely an adherence to a PG-13 rating. It could have been far more exciting and interesting given an R rating - if you don't believe me you should check out Japan's Battle Royale which is far more stimulating and is very nearly the exact same story. Many of the shots convey confusion and are cut so quick that you literally never see anything except blurs - I hate this kind of viewing - it's headache inducing. The director (Gary Ross who directed the superb Pleasantville) would have done much better to put some time into other characters playing the game so that I would have actually cared if some of them died or not. Even Lawrence's character only kills to save another or out of self defense - this is boring because it supersedes reality and lacks interesting moral quandaries. The costumes and future set designs are minimally invasive and seem to me to be mediocre at best but as I stated at the beginning this is a movie for teens and really should not be considered as much more than pop culture realized.
Recommended Viewing: Battle Royale - Surviving The Game - The Running Man
Bob Scale: Objective: 6.2 - Subjective: 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 86