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The Hunger Games

Released

Latest Home Video

Aug 18, 2012

MPAA Rating:

PG-13


Run Time:

142

Director

Gary Ross

Cast

Jennifer Lawrence

Josh Hutcherson

Liam Hemsworth

Willow Shields

Studio

2012 Lionsgate

Official Website >>

Still shot from the movie: The Hunger Games.

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Reviewed by

OverallB-
ViolenceD+
SexB+
LanguageB
Drugs/AlcoholC+
Run Time142

Making the Grades

President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is the dictator of a post-apocalyptic country called Panem, where North America once existed. He resides in the highly advanced city called The Capitol, while the rest of the citizens live in 12 districts in various states of poverty. The residents of each are compelled yearly to surrender their teenaged children into a lottery where two dozen unlucky “tributes”—one male and one female from each district—will be forced to fight to their death. When 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence) younger sister is selected, she immediately presents her own name instead and volunteers to compete in The Hunger Games.

Katniss is from District 12, a coal mining area that looks like today’s Appalachia, where she supports her distraught mother and younger sister by illegally hunting food along the border—often with her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth). She and the 18-year-old boy share the tragedy of losing their fathers in a mine explosion. Now pulled from her family and Gale’s life, Katniss’ only chance of winning the bloody gladiator-style battle may be her tough upbringing and bow-hunting skills.

The “game” is a big event in The Capitol, with an Olympic-like buildup. The tributes are donned in outlandish costumes and paraded through the city. After the pageantry is complete they are brought to a stage and interviewed by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), the host of the reality television show that covers the sport in great detail. From there the mostly starving and untrained competitors are placed in posh quarters, fed copious amounts of food, and put into a regime to help hone their survival and fighting abilities.

Katniss and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the other tribute from her area, are offered the mentoring services of Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), a drunkard who managed to win the games a few decades earlier. His help does nothing to make the situation look more hopeful for these two kids who hail from the poorest district in the land.

Based on an adolescent novel that has risen to meteoric popularity since it’s early 2008 release, this movie brings the story’s gruesome concept to life with many violent scenes of teens slaying their opponents. Relative to other very violent PG-13 films, the carnage depicted here is muted with fast camera moves and cuts to another scene just as a knife or sword is about to do its bidding. However the stark reality of what is taking place still makes this film a troubling tale. For example, movies like The Dark Knight (also rated PG-13) feature costume-clad characters murdering each other in a fantastical world. In contrast, the young characters in The Hunger Games look like the kids your teens hang out with at school.

A romantic triangle is a small diversion from the main plotline, which admittedly holds your attention entirely during the over two-hour runtime. Teens who have read the books will undoubtedly be interested in viewing this solidly produced movie that contains only a few mild profanities and a kiss between young characters. Although the script may also spur important discussions about freedom, the consequences of war and, ironically, our insatiable appetite for viewing violence in media, parents should still be cautious. It’s important to recognize that, unlike the printed page where a reader’s imagination directs the images that come to mind, on a movie screen the director is in charge—just like the dictator who has arranged The Hunger Games.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Hunger Games.

What lessons about war and conflict does this movie intend to teach? What situations in the “real world” might this film reflect? Why do you think the author of the novel used teen characters as the central theme of the conflict?

How does the depiction of violence differ in a realistic portrayal with young characters versus a fantastical movie featuring an adult cast?

This movie is based on the book The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. It is part of a trilogy, which includes Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

Trailers & Clips

Canadian Movie Ratings

BC
SK
PG Violence.
AB 14A Violence.
MB 14A Not Recommended for Young Children, Violence, Adverse Psychological Impact.
ON 14A Violence, Disturbing Content (Reconsidered on May 1, 2012 - Classification Changed from PG)
QC G Not Recommended for Children.
NB
NS
NL
PE
14A

Canadian Home Video Rating: 14A

Watch @ Home

Details on home video releases of The Hunger Games...

Home Video Notes: The Hunger Games

Release Date: 18 August 2012

The Hunger Games releases to home video with the following extras:

- Audio Commentary by Editor Stephen Mirrione, Visual Effects Supervisor Sheena Duggal and Sound Editor Lon Bender

- Game Maker: Suzanne Collins and the Hunger Games Phenomenon

- The World is Watching: Making the Hunger Games

- Letters from the Rose Garden

- Controlling the Games

- A Conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell

- Preparing for The Games: A Director’s Process (Blu-ray Exclusive)

- Propaganda Film

- Marketing Archive

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c5fam says: Mar. 23, 2012

Now That’s Entertainment!???

I just left a midnight showing where hundreds of teens packed into multiple theaters to watch the movie version of the now popular book they were assigned to read in junior high English. The anticipation was tangible as they waited to see how faithful the book was going to be to the movie, and if Katniss and Peter were all they had imagined them to be.

What they saw was hard core dehumanization. The fact that we find teens killing each other in big-screen gladitorial combat entertaining marks a new societal low. This is more than a movie, it is a desensitizing and trivializing of life and death as a form of twisted broadcast amusement. Best summarized from a line in the film, “just think of them as the other animals you hunt”. Our kids deserve better role models and food for thought.

lisa.allen@lcu.edu says: Mar. 23, 2012

My 14-yr-old daughter has been mesmerized by the trilogy for over a year. She has also gained a sense of empowerment as she grew to realize that the only way to defeat evil (in whatever form it may take) is to be courageous enough to stand up to it and fight it, even in the face of certain defeat. I’ve read all 3 books, and looking at them from the perspective of parent, reading teacher and librarian I’ve been able to come away with several different, sometimes opposing opinions.

There is no arguing the violence, suffering, and evil in the stories. On the other hand, neither can the courage, valor, and strength of Katniss and other characters be ignored. The opportunities for parents, teachers and mentors to discuss these stories and the parallels to our real world—children as young as 10 being forced to become killing machines in Africa, refugees being murdered as they run from cruel regimes all over the globe, devastating poverty, the list is endless—are invaluable. The only way the terrible things happening in our real world are going to change is for people to become actively involved in fighting those evils.

Without involvement and discussion, the Hunger Games can easily be dismissed as gratuitous violence, but as a teaching tool, it can teach many lessons, especially one very important one—that a single courageous individual has the power to change their world and to inspire others to join in that change.

The trilogy provides the full measure of the positive power of the story. The movie is simply the introduction to the “world” that Katniss and the other courageous characters must decide whether to passively accept or risk everything to ultimately change for the better. Metaphorically, it is very much like the world we now live in.

Emis4 says: Mar. 24, 2012

I do agree with OP lisa.Allen about the Positive aspects of the theme for Hunger Games. I think that the message is better conveyed by the book, though.  By hafting the movie focus more on the action and less on the backstory and character development, the movie falls into it’s own trap of becoming “blood sport as entertainment”

I took my 14 year old to the movie last night but had to leave due to uncontrollable sobbing.

I know “it’s just a movie”....I have read a lot of dystopian fiction, I can appreciate a dramatic battle between good and evil….but I was not prepared for how emotionally I would react to the child-on-child killing.  I found it highly disturbing.

I can only hope that our human values don’t let our culture stoop to the depravity depicted in this movie; sadly, though, I feel that it is all too possible.

PeaceHasBegun says: Mar. 25, 2012

On The Hunger Games film:  Sweetly packaged cruelty that is sure to satiate the appetite of the indifferent and the most unconscious of adults who clearly put the emotional whims of the children’s desires to see inapproprate film content over the more responsible role of being a parent and not the child’s friend.  This film is a glorious testimony to Hollywood’s far to often ability to cleverly package and mass market Schadenfreude (a German word meaning “to take pleasure from someone else’s suffering”)  to our curious children who have methodically been trained to hold the lowest of expectations relative to glimpsing a right of passage that is held to a model citizen standards.  Unfortunately, there a far to few Shepard’s of good conscious (especially in the Hollywood film, music and TV world)  to point the way to a more loving world that works for all.  What’s the real take away message of this film other than the world its a dog eat dog, only the strong survive world filled with cruel hearted adults and wealthy people who psychotically prey on the weak and there is nothing you can do about it other than survive?  Joseph Mengele and Joseph Goebbel are made proud by this film.  Parents who take their children to this film or allow them to go unattended should, in my opinion, consider turning themselves into the police for the careless and reckless psychological endangerment of those they are suppose to love and sanctioned to protect. A wise African Chief once said “You know when the soul of a nation (I’ll again insert “the movie,  music and TV industry”) is sick when the children are violent, the adults are bewildered and there are no elders.”  This film is proof positive of what the Course in Miracles states as its philosophical axiom “There must be another way.”

momoften says: Mar. 27, 2012

It is really sad how desensitized we Americans have become. Sitting in front of a large screen with surround sound with your children, teens and other adults to watch as entertainment, a human hunt is absolutly unbelievable. When your children start play acting this movie hunting, hurting and killing others you will have no one to blame but yourselves.  Parents, open your eyes and use your brains, start parenting your children.  This is wrong and should be stopped, not applauded and supported.  Sick minds write and make these kind of movies and you are stupid enough to pay to go watch it.

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