~Kyle J. Bowman~
When it comes to The Hunger Games, I didn’t read the books. I saw the movie mostly because I had friends who just wouldn’t stop talking about it, and in order to prepare for it, we watched Battle Royale, since we knew that the two had similar themes. As in, both are about the concept of “wouldn’t it be awesome if a bunch of kids murdered each other”. It’s a completely novelty concept, and I’m pretty sure that in both cases it’s like that purely for shock value. Neither movie presents a real reason for it that made me feel like it was necessary. Battle Royale came closer, as the kids have to kill each other off to set an example for the rest of the youth of Japan, who have become so ridiculously unruly that murder is the only option for whipping them into shape. As silly as that was, it was even worse in The Hunger Games. Just from the movie, I have no clue why it was being done. I think in the beginning they mentioned that a war in the past kicked it off, but they glossed over it so fast that I didn’t catch the details. That was probably an instance where they expected me to have done my research and read the books. That’s crazy in my opinion, as I think movies should be able to stand on their own. General concept is a tie; they’re pretty much the same in that regard.
When it comes to characters, Battle Royale takes the cake by far. Each kid is given a unique personality, even the ones that get killed off almost instantly. Every single death in the whole movie feels like it has some power behind it, even if it was a character you didn’t see too much of. In The Hunger Games, we get the stereotypical Hollywood clichés instead of actual characters. We have our powerful female lead, her love interest, and all the “bad guys”. None of the deaths feel like they have any power behind them, because the only characters given any personality whatsoever are the people who aren’t involved in the murder-fest and the main duo. With Battle Royale, the focus was on the fight itself, which helped its characterization incredibly. You got to see that trials and tribulations of every single kid. Character goes to Battle Royale.
When your root concept is purely shock value, you have to do a good job dressing it up. The atmosphere of The Hunger Games is generally better. The capitol city in particular, headed by the people who run the games, is such an incredibly stylish place. It gives the feel that everyone is just trying to be as colorful and flashy as possible, both in look and personality. It’s a real shame that more of the focus wasn’t put on this style during the games themselves. During those, we get a generic forest. Basically, you could walk just outside of Alfred and see the setting for the actual games. Everything surrounding that is absolutely incredible, though. Battle Royale gives us a standard abandoned island feel for the entire movie. The point for environment goes to The Hunger Games. The only parts of the movie I enjoyed involved the world in that movie.
So which is honestly better and more worth your time? I’d say Battle Royale. You will only see the stylishly flashy atmosphere in The Hunger Games for about half the movie, so it’s almost not worth factoring in. Personally, I could not get past how annoying the characterization was in The Hunger Games. Every single main character is one that I’ve seen in about a hundred other movies. It offers nothing new in that regard, and thus I just couldn’t relate to it whatsoever. Battle Royale does such a great job creating a personality for each character that I honestly felt like they probably existed somewhere in real life. There’s no doubt in my mind that each one of those kids is heavily based off a real person. Because of that, it was incredibly relatable and I honestly felt bad when one of them died, unlike in Hunger Games, where almost everyone who dies is considered one of the “bad guys”, and I’m just supposed to be happy for the main character surviving. Honestly, I don’t even have a problem spoiling the fact that she lives, because you seriously have something wrong with you if you thought for one moment at any part in the film that she was going to die. See Battle Royale instead. It’s pretty much the same concept, just far more engaging.