The “Hunger Games” movie premiered last weekend. The book series is extremely popular with many of our Middle School students, and the movie is a little controversial as it includes many violent images. The movie is rated PG-13 and I imagine some parents are debating whether it is appropriate for their daughters.
Have you seen the movie? If yes, please use the “comment” feature of this blog post to share your thoughts on the appropriateness for middle schoolers.
Here’s the review from commensensemedia.org:
Parents need to know that although the bestselling Hunger Games books are enormously popular with tweens, there’s a clear distinction between reading about violence and seeing it portrayed on screen. Developmentally, the 10- to 12-year-olds who’ve read the book may find the movie’s visceral, sometimes bloody teen-on-teen violence upsetting — especially the brutal scene that opens the Games, in which several teens are slaughtered by their fellow contestants. Even young teens need to be mature enough to deal with the 20+ deaths in The Hunger Games; characters are viciously dispatched with various weapons — including spears, arrows, and swords — as well as by having their necks broken, their skulls cracked, and their bodies ravaged by carnivorous and poisonous creatures. Despite the violence (which is, overall, less graphic than the novel’s descriptions but is still very intense), the movie explores thought-provoking themes about reality television, totalitarian government, and screen violence as entertainment. And Katniss, the main character, is a strong heroine who’s resourceful, selfless, and a true survivor. Her mentor, Haymitch, is initially depicted as a cynical drunk, but he ultimately proves to be a valuable ally.
:Thought-provoking, complex messages. Teamwo…Thought-provoking, complex messages. Teamwork and loyalty are valued, but deception and artifice are also rewarded. The will to survive, the fragile relationship between a dictatorial government and its oppressed people, rebellion as a preferred option to obedience, and the distinction between image and reality are all addressed. There are many discussion-worthy themes in the movie, and they touch on everything from the micro/personal to the macro/political.
Positive role models
:Katniss is a strong, resourceful, capabl…Katniss is a strong, resourceful, capable young warrior who looks after those she loves. Her entire journey is based on a selfless decision to take her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games. Despite the horrific circumstances that she and Peeta are forced into, they find a way to stay true to themselves and protect each other (and, in Katniss’ case, Rue). Peeta encourages Katniss to not let the Capitol make her a pawn in their game. Gale, Katniss’ unconditional friend, promises to provide for her family in her absence. Haymitch is a flawed but ultimately committed mentor to Katniss and Peeta; Cinna offers Katniss sympathy and support.
:As in the book, The Hunger Games’ central “pageant” …As in the book, The Hunger Games
‘ central “pageant” is a televised battle to the death: 24 children between the ages of 12 and 18 (12 girls, 12 boys) are selected to participate in a bloody reality show-style contest in which there’s only one victor. There’s a pervasive sense of peril and tension, and once the Games start, there’s an immediate bloodbath, with vicious weapon use, a fair amount of blood, and several dead bodies — though the quick editing means that the most gruesome bits aren’t lingered on. The young combatants proceed to die from spears, arrows, knives, deadly insect bites, attack by genetically modified dog-like creatures, and poisonous berries (some deaths occur off camera). A couple of the tributes also have their necks snapped or heads bashed. The Gamemakers purposely devise situations to try and kill off characters, including a scary fire with fireball projectiles; another scene has a large explosion. Katniss is badly burned; Peeta has a nasty knife injury. Earlier in the movie, there are scenes of characters practicing with weapons and demonstrating their deadly skills, as well as gory snippets of footage from earlier Games. Scenes of a riot and subsequent retaliation by government forces.
:Peeta reveals that he’s had a crush on Katniss since they…Peeta reveals that he’s had a crush on Katniss since they were kids, and the two kiss a couple of times, one time pretty passionately.
:Very infrequent use of words like “damn,” “hell,” an…Very infrequent use of words like “damn,” “hell,” and “oh my God” (as an exclamation).
:No product placements in the film, but the viral …No product placements in the film, but the viral marketing and merchadise tie-ins for the movie (and books) include a line of themed nail polish, as well as apparel, jewelry, games, and more.
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
:Haymitch is often drunk; he ha…Haymitch is often drunk; he has a drink in his hand for the first half of the movie — though as he gains focus/motivation, he drinks less. Several dinner and party scenes show adults and teenagers drinking various brightly colored beverages/cocktails.