What Grandparents Might Like to Know before They Take Their Grandkids to see “The Hunger Games.”

Ranny Levi, Founder and President, KIDS FIRST! / Coalition for Quality Children’s Media

If you haven’t already seen this film and your grandkids are clamoring to go, let us help you make the decision of whether its right for them or not. This film, based on the best-selling book, has been hugely popular with tweens and teens. It is rated PG-13 for good reason – violence. If you are unfamiliar with the book, you should know that the storyline involves teens fighting one another “to the death.” That alone is something that most grandparents will find problematical. The violence is portrayed pretty graphically in the film, although these scenes are relatively short. Aside from the violence though, the film addresses some very positive issues, offering some good talking points about reality TV, totalitarian government and violence as entertainment. Katniss, the protagonist, portrays a strong female role model who volunteers to fight in order to protect her younger sister and shows great strength of character. Remember, the PG-13 rating does mean “Parental Guidance.” It is up to parents to decide whether or not they feel comfortable allowing their child to see this film. So, talk with your grandkids’ parents before taking them. To further help your case, look at the reviews from our KIDS FIRST! youth film critics, Julianna Noone (12), Raven Devanney (14) and Anthony Aranda (9). Below are Julianna’s comments and following are links to video reviews by all three young people.

OMG, the Hunger Games is a MUST SEE!  Adapted from the first of three novels, written by Suzanne Collins and directed by Gary Ross, this film brought such an adrenaline rush of excitement that I couldn’t sit still watching it.  It takes place in the not too distant future, where North America has been replaced by Panem, where there is a Capitol and 12 Districts.  The movie is about the struggles of a nation divided, where the districts must fight for survival and where the Capitol controls all of the districts.  Each of the 12 districts must have one boy and one girl enter the “Hunger Games”, where they represent their District in a battle for their life, while their citizens watch the action live as it happens.  Twenty-four entrants, but only one will survive. It’s reality TV at its absolute worst.  

The main characters that we learn most about are Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, X-Men: First Class) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island), who are from District 12, the poorest of the 12 districts.  They are also my favorite characters.  I like Peeta, because he is the underdog of all underdogs, and he wanted to stay true to himself and not let the games change him in any way.  I love Kat, because she is a great role model for young girls like me.  She is smart and courageous and she is always looking out for those who need her.  She shows that just because you may not be the richest, or best looking, or most liked person, if you have the will and fight to survive, you can overcome any obstacle.  

I loved this movie so much. It’s hard to pinpoint any one scene I like the most.  The scenes leading up to game really set the tone of the movie.  Then you have the training scenes, which too are very well done.  I would say the scenes during the actual Hunger Games are my favorite, as that is where the most action occurs.  The way the Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley, Gone) controls the Games using hi-tech computer technology, was fantastic.  This movie had me on the edge of my seat and had my emotions all over the place.  The cinematography in the Capitol and the arena was amazing.  One of the best special effects was how they made it look like Kat and Peeta were on fire as they entered the arena, and then later in the interview, they again made it appear that Kat’s dress was on fire when she spun around for the crowd. 

While the movie contains some graphic violence, it is necessary to stay true to the storyline.  It is certainly no worse than a lot of video games that kids play today, it’s just difficult to watch kids killing other kids.  For me, I not only want to see the film again, but I started reading the books as well, so I can compare them when the next film is released.  I think this movie is appropriate for ages 11 and up, though you should know that it may not be appropriate for some younger kids. The few instances of violence are intense and graphic, but they are short lived.  I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars, but only because I can’t give it more than that.  Even my dad stayed awake throughout the whole movie and that never happens!  This has been a review from Julianna Noone, reporting for KIDS FIRST!  “May the odds be ever in your favor!”

See Julianna’s video review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHyKC-RSNnw

See Raven (14)’s video review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuSNvlEt5og

See Anthony (9)’s video review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acTAvDc5_AE

For more reviews of the latest films, DVDs and Apps, please go to www.kidsfirst.org.

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