Hunger Games, The

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3

Content: -1

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Alexander Ludwig, Isabelle Fuhrman, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland. Sci-fi action adventure. Based on the novel by Suzanne Collins. Screenplay by Gary Ross and Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray. Directed by Gary Ross.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. Part twisted entertainment, part government intimidation tactic, the Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which ďTributesĒ must fight with one another until one survivor remains.

 Pitted against highly trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If sheís ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Iím sitting in the theater watching kids killing kids in a film directed at youth, and Iím questioning, is this a bad thing? Though itís not an epidemic yet, still we are seeing an awful lot of kids shooting their classmates. So, whatís up with this premise? What are the writer and filmmaker trying to say? And are they being irresponsible?

It is one of the best constructed films Iíve seen of late, and Jennifer Lawrence is not only mesmerizing, she brings depth and plausibility to the productionís concept. And while there is this frightening subject of kids killing kids, at least the graphicness of the slayings avoids being excessively gory. Still, as I write that last line, I question the suitability of the violent nature of the film.

The Hunger Games books address many issues and, certainly, the story can be seen as a metaphor for the times we live in and the political powers that control our lives. But what ultimately uplifted me was the fact that the human spirit triumphs in this film. Tyranny only stands so long before righteousness prevails, as evidenced by the filmís ending, with citizens beginning to revolt against the indignities they are forced to endure. And the lead character and several others show compassion, despite the cruelty all around them. For me, the unselfish acts and love element trump the filmís tumult.

That said, has any generation been more bombarded by excessive violence in the name of entertainment? And is the mediaís never-ending use of carnage having an effect on the minds and spirits of a whole generation? Are kids just using violent imagery as a healthy release for pent-up frustrations? Or, is it making them more aggressive and less sensitive? These are questions beyond my pay grade, but they are worth discussing. And, oh, how I hope parents are aware of the excesses their children are being bombarded with via each media outlet.

As to the fear being raised on the Internet that The Hunger Games is in reality a swipe at capitalism, just another attempt to turn America more towards socialism, well, I think thatís pretty hidden in the movie, if there at all.

Sure, it attacks authority and government dominance, but then so have countless other films such as The Lord of the Flies, Loganís Run and Rebel Without A Cause. Clear back in the 1960s, there was a slogan, ďQuestion authority.Ē Iím not sure thatís a bad thing, seeing how our political leaders seem to use us as mere pawns, professing a sincere concern for our well-being, yet seemingly only bettering their own futures.

The film has several characters ultimately uniting against villainy, showing compassion and resolve, two elements necessary for a contented life. Thatís a good thing.

Itís not going to make me want to kill somebody, so Iíll see it again. But if your teen has an arsenal in the basement and still listens to Black Sabbath, you might want to take him to counseling rather than this movie.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: A few minor expletives, but I caught no harsh language.

Profanity: The lead utters the expression ďOh my GodĒ twice, but I caught no deliberate profane use of Godís name.

Violence: It avoids the gore found in R-rated movies, but kids are hunting one another, with some getting stabbed, one getting his neck broke, another gobbled up by CGI monster dogs and everybody getting wounded. Some blood.

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Adults are seen drinking wine.

Other: None

Running Time: 142 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and up.

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