Let the Hunger Games begin!
IT GIVES me goose bumps - and sheer pleasure - to review a film that's mired in controversy. The excitement is even more magnified if it boasts a storyline, cinematography, script, props and cast - you name it - that are out of this world.
The Hunger Games is that movie. It's a box office shaker, that you must know. And by time you finish reading this, you'll be so hungry to see it that you won't need much convincing.
A few commentators of doom are at it once again. Some have come down hard on Suzanne Collins, the book's author (on which the film is based), that her work is similar to Battle Royale, a Japanese novel.
But negative publicity is a positive touch that always adds to the bottom line.
For your benefit, the book has been on the New York Times' bestseller list for more than 100 consecutive weeks. And the movie? It has just gone past the $300-million (R2.3-billion) mark! So what do you have to say for yourselves, you haters?
And because it stars in the lead a damn fine-looking young female actress in Jennifer Lawrence, some know-it-alls have praised the film for its feminist heroism.
That's ridiculous. I mean, there've been many movies starring female protagonists that have not attracted such sexist accolades. Clint Eastwood's 2004 Million Dollar Baby is one illustration. Although it has a sad ending, Hillary Swank is outstanding in her portrayal of female boxer Margaret Fitzgerald. But I don't remember her heroics being boxed into feminism.
She's not labelled a feminist because she shares the same gender as her adversaries on the ring.
But since Lawrence, who plays Katniss Everdeen, has a male antagonist in Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), her role is suddenly compartmentalised into feminism. Oh, come on!
The Hunger Games tells a hair-raising story of post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, which has 13 districts. As a penalty for rebelling against the government, a deadly live television game is put in place.
The game, which is controlled by the wealthy Capitol district, involves pitting one girl and one boy from each of its 12 districts against each other.
And when Everdeen learns that her sister has been selected to represent her district, Everdeen decides to take her sibling's place. She is partnered by Mellark who expresses his love for her live on TV. But she thinks Mellark's admission is a mind game to win the audience's support.
Everdeen is trained in hunting (she carries a bow and arrows) and survival skills by Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), a former victor of the killer games. There are a couple of interesting twists, like when the head gamemaker changes the rules twice.
For starters, he allows two winners (one girl and one boy) as long as they come from the same district. Then he reverts back to the game's original format where the last two survivors - Everdeen and Mellark - have to fight each other to the death. But they have suicidal ideas that can shame the government and competition and reshape politics in Panem.
Lawrence's acting skills and humble mannerisms are a marvel and at 21 years old, her future is bright. I became her ardent fan in Winter's Bone (2010). Wow.
Catch the killer - her actions speak more than her words - in The Hunger Games and you'll eat out of her hands. But do me a favour, don't call her a feminist afterwards.