Australian Council on Children and the Media

Hunger Games: Catching fire, The

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Not suitable under 13, Parental guidance recommended13-15 (Violence; Disturbing themes and scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Hunger Games: Catching fire, The
  • a review of Hunger Games: Catching fire, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 21 November 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing themes and scenes
Children aged 13 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing themes and scenes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Hunger Games: Catching fire, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes and violence
Length 146 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

After winning the 74th annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) have returned home to District 12 to spend some time with family and friends including Katniss’ boyfriend, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth). Unfortunately, Katniss and Peeta’s time at home is short lived because they are required to embark on a victory tour of Panem’s districts having to pretend they are in a passionate relationship.

But the tour does not go as anticipated. Panem’s downtrodden masses see Katniss and Peeta’s victory over the 74th Hunger Games as a sign of hope, which sows seeds of rebellion. Fearing an uprising by the masses, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) decides to quash all thoughts of hope and rebellion by doing away with Katniss, Peeta and all previous Hunger Games champions.  

Snow introduces the Quarter Quell Hunger Games, orchestrated by games-master Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The Quarter Quell Hunger Games involves selecting contestants from past Hunger Games victors with Katniss and Peeta once again thrust into an environmentally controlled killing arena.

Luckily for Katniss and Peeta, their Hunger Games mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) has managed to sway several contestants to their side. The unexpected result of teaming Katniss and Peeta with their new found allies sets the scene for the final instalment in the Hunger Games trilogy of films.                 


             

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Teenagers forced to fight to the death in killing games; totalitarian government; oppression and rebellion; self-sacrifice

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains some intense sequences of violence with some graphic death, blood and gore and injury. Examples including:

  • One scene depicts a number of helmeted soldiers (referred to as Peace Keepers) dressed in white armour push through a crowd of onlookers and forcefully drag an old man out of the crowd. They force the old man to his knees and a soldier points a handgun at his head. We hear the trigger being pulled and the sound of the gunshot with the actual killing occurring off screen. A short time later we see four soldiers carrying the body away.
  • A couple of scenes depict crowds of civilians fighting off soldiers who shoot and kill people at random, with one soldier using a sword to cut down a civilian. Soldiers ransack homes and the owners’ belongings are thrown into the street and torched with flamethrowers.
  • Soldiers brutally beat, kick and punch a defenceless man in front of Katniss who is unable to intervene and cries out in distress.    
  • During a short scene depicting the initial stage of the Hunger Games contest we see contestants shot in the leg and chest with arrows, hacked in the chest with a trident and an axe, and pulled underwater and drowned (no images of blood and gore). In a later scene another contestant is shot in the chest with an arrow, one killed in a sword and knife fight and another contestant has her throat cut (the actual act occurring off screen)
  • In one scene during the Hunger Games contest, Peeta is hurled backwards through the air when he encounters a force field. He is dead when he hits the ground but is resuscitated by another contestant.    
  • One female contestant strikes another over the back of the head with a rock and then cuts her throat and arm with a knife; we see blood covering the injured contestant’s throat and arm.
  • A young man stripped naked to the waist is tied to a pole and flogged by a soldier wielding a whip. The young man screams out in pain as he is whipped and we see graphic images of deep bloody welts cut deep into his back and the soldier with his face, back and chest splattered with blood. When a young woman intervenes she is struck across the face by the soldier who then points a gun at her head. In a later scene we see the whipped man lying on his stomach on a table and see his back covered in bloody wounds with blood dripping from the table onto the floor.
  • In one chaotic scene, Hunger Games contestants are attacked by dozens of frenzied, snarling baboons. The Baboons have a scary and threatening appearance with mouths full of large fangs and large muscular bodies. One contestant kills a baboon with a trident, one baboon attacks and bites the neck of a fleeing contestant who dies from the inflicted injuries (we see the contestant with a bloody neck wound and blood covered face and hear them die). One contestant kills an attacking baboon by holding it underwater until it drowns.            
  • Katniss is told that her home, District 12, along with its inhabitants, no longer exists; it has been completely destroyed by fire bombs. 

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Ina addition to the above-mentioned scenes there are a number of scenes which will disturb children in this age group, including:

  • One scene depicts images of a woman with a mouth full of sharp pointed teeth and we hear that she had her teeth filed into fangs so that she could rip out the throats of her victims. 
  • A poisonous fog attacks Hunger Games contestants, chasing them through the jungle. Contact with the fog causes contestants to immediately develop large ugly, painful boil-like blisters on their hands, arms, neck and face and to writhe and scream out in pain. An elderly contestant sacrifices herself by deliberately walking into the fog.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

The above scenes will also disturb children in this age group

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

None of concern in the film but associated merchandise being marketed to young children.

Sexual references

The film contains infrequent low-level sexual references and innuendo. Examples include:

  • We hear Katniss and Gale talk about how Katniss had to pretend to be romantically involved with Peeta in order to survive the first Hunger Games.
  • A man refers to Katniss and Peeta as “The lethal lovers from District 12”.
  • A covert reference is made to one of the male Hunger Games contestants engaged in acts of prostitution. 
  • A female contestant asks Peeta “What do you think now that the whole world wants to sleep with you?” 
  • In one scene Katniss infers that she is pregnant to Peeta.

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains some partial nudity and low-level sexual activity. Examples include:

  • Katniss and Peeta and Katniss and Gale kiss and hug passionately.
  • Several scenes depicts Peeta and Katniss (fully clothed) lying in bed together   
  • Katniss wears dresses with low-cut tops
  • One scene depicts Peeta and Katniss standing together in a lift. A girl enters the lift and asks Peeta to unzip the back of her dress. She removes the dress to stand naked in front of Peeta (only the girl’s naked shoulders are depicted)and then turns around and leaves the lift.   

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • We see a young girl inject a syringe containing an unknown substance into a man’s bloody back after the man had been badly whipped.  
  • A man is seen consuming alcohol and acting in an intoxicated state in several scenes (one scene depicts the man face down on a table in an intoxicated stupor) the inference being that the man was an alcoholic
  • While at a party, Katniss is told that glasses containing a pink drink were to make you vomit so that you could go on eating more food.
  • Katniss after takes a bottle containing alcohol from a man and drinks from it
  • A reference is made to some of the Hunger Games contestants being addicted to drugs, the contestants appearing to have dilated pupils.  

Coarse language

The film includes some coarse language. Examples include:

  • “No shit”, “I’m getting totally screwed”, “O my god”, “You son of a bitch”.   
  • One contestant says “Get fucked” a couple of times with the offending words almost drowned out by background noise.

In a nutshell

The Hunger Games: Catching fire is an action adventure targeting an older adolescent audience and fans of the Hunger Games series of novels. Catching Fire is a sequel to the first Hunger Games film and follows a similar storyline with the film’s two heroes inspiring the masses to rebel while being forced to compete in a fight to the death. As with the previous film, violence and disturbing themes and scenes make the film unsuitable for tweens and younger teens who may have read the books or be attracted by the film’s marketing.  

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Know who your enemies are.
  • Hope is powerful and can lead people to achieve great things. 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include courage and self-sacrifice.

This movie could also give parents of older children the opportunity to discuss totalitarian governments and their effects on the citizens who live under their rule

 

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