Theatrical Release: 3/23/2012
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter
Writer: Gary Ross & Suzanne Collins
Producer: Nina Jacobson
Director: Gary Ross
Runtime: 142 min.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence,
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which "Tributes" 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 she's ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Survival of the fittest. That is what "The Hunger Games" come down to. And at first Katniss Everdeen is all for that after she takes the place of her younger sister, Primrose, to spare the young girl's life. Katniss is excellent with a bow and arrow and many believe she will be the sole survivor of the "Games." But when Peeta Mellark, also from District 12, is chosen, she remembers him as the young man who once threw some bread to her in the rain. One of the strengths of this film is the fine acting of the two top leads, Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. Lawrence's eyes reveal her emotions and she can accomplish more with a look than many actresses can with several lines of dialog. Interestingly, she is the quiet one while it is Peeta who puts his heart on the line and tells her how he feels about her. It becomes obvious that, if it comes down to it, Katniss will not be able to kill Peeta. The themes of familiy loyalty and young love are nice themes featured in the movie. Also there is a touching scene when Katniss helps a young girl, a rival, in the games, after she is mortally wounded.
In this 74th series of games which are used to offer up the young as penance due to a past uprising and government intimidation, things have an unexpected ending and there are some twists, especially since two youths are representing District 12. But the government is demanding death and death they get. Despite an interesting storyline the violent acts feature a young man's neck being snapped, blood and death from weapons, and unfortunately strong language too including two "Da*n you" statements. We do not award our Dove Seal to films which contain this curse. A girl uses one in surprise and another one in anger about someone she cares for but there are still two of them to deal with in the movie. It's too bad that violence and language takes the fun out of these games for family viewing. The ending may satisfy some but the strong violence and language left us disappointed that we could not award it our Dove Seal.
Sex: Scenes of a couple kissing a few times.
Language: "Da*n you"-2; G/OMG-3; H-2; D-1; "You little punk"-1
Violence: A character holds a foot on other character's chest; a bird is hit with an arrow; several scenes of youth killing each other with swords and arrows and knives and blood is seen on mouths and heads and bodies in a few scenes; a youth's neck is snapped in a fairly graphic scene; a girl is shoved hard and dies from a broken neck; a young man is shot with an arrow in his shoulder although the scene is not gratuitous and after he is shot a character shoots him with an arrow again in a mercy killing as wolf-like creatures are devouring him; it's mentioned a girl shot squirrels between the eyes; a young girl is hit with an arrow in the chest and she bleeds and dies; blood is seen on a knife and a suitcase; fire and explosions; bloody wounds on a few character's legs; flames are thrown at a character and she receives a burn; wasps are let go from a nest and they attack a few characters; a riot by some characters; wolf-like creatures chase characters and devour one.
Drugs: Drinking and toasts in a few scenes; the mention of a "bar car" on a train; a character has hallucinations after being stung by wasps.
Other: Two sisters are only given three minutes to say good-bye for what could be the last time; government intimidation; death and grief.