Hunger Games and the Liandri Conflict

I just returned from a viewing of The Hunger Games in a surprisingly tiny theatre.  The film has a few big flaws (namely, the lack of real character development; failing, in my opinion, to push just how grotesque the event is and show a convincing progression of dwindling survival; the at-times odd character styling - when do they have time to shave? - and, worst of all, the nauseating, misjudged use of camera shake), but in total, the film's strengths (Jennifer Lawrence's performance; and the excellent use of sound and otherwise creative cinematography ) made the experience worthwhile.  When I can spend five minutes staring at a screen without realising I've been pulling the skin beneath my chin again, you know the film has done its job (although, one can argue whether pulling the skin beneath my chin is worth the over-priced commission).

All that is irrelevant, though, because what I actually want to talk about is a similarity that has been bugging me since I learnt of the film, and has not abated since watching it.  Mark Kermode has already referenced forebears such as Battle Royale, Year of the Sex Olympics, The Running Man, and Series 7: The Contenders, but what I haven't seen mentioned is just how closely The Hunger Games follows the path of Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict, the 2005 Epic Games video game about a tournament in which the goal is to be the last man/woman/alien/robot standing, literally.

One of the mechanisms driving the plot, much like with The Hunger Games (and more so Series 7: The Contenders), is the fact that it is framed within a futuristic television show (or something approaching it):

The way the populace mindlessly laps up the violence and revels in the glorification of competitive murder is very much the same.

Now, this may be mere coincidence (after all, director Gary Ross claims to not have heard of Battle Royale; whether author Suzanne Collins has, I don't know); nothing is truly original, but I have to say what really made me blink twice was the scene in which we're introduced to the Capitol.  Right from the angle of the camera, which for comparison's sake, you can see here, to the look of the city and surrounding area.  Unfortunately, finding the perfect images was impossible, so here's a shoddy comparison:

Capitol in The Hunger Games
(As an aside, notice the apparent lack of street lamps in the image above, or the larger version here.)

City in background of The Viper Pit in Unreal Championship 2
(Can you tell how much CGI has changed in seven years?  There's a lot less blue.)  It may be difficult with these poor examples, but I'm having a serious case of déjà vu.  You can just imagine these two images being a pair of photographs taken from the opposite ends of a bay (not at the same time, of course, unless a second Sun has mysteriously appeared within the orbit of the Future Earth).

It's just remarkable how I could not shake this connection between these two entities, regardless of its legitimacy.  Although they are not exact, the similarities, in story, concept, politics, and visual design, are almost too numerous to be considered ignorant coincidence.  Many people, including the creators, may not have seen it, but I certainly did.

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