The bestselling young adult novel trilogyÂ The Hunger GamesÂ makes it debut on the screens last weekend with much anticipation, declared by media as the new saga to replaceÂ Harry PotterÂ orÂ Twilight.
Midnight showings were sold out nationwide with much fanfare. While The Hunger GamesÂ 2012 full movie connects deeply with the same audience as the last teen books turned films, many have also asked whether the picture will generate similar spiritual concernsâ€”leading parents and church leaders to wonder what concerns exist before sending their own children or members to the theater.
To start, the film is a futuristic, dystopia (the opposite of Utopia) along the lines of a teenageÂ Mad Max. A fallen North America is now renamed Panem, divided into twelve districts, with each district required to send â€œtributeâ€â€”two enslaved young people who participate in a fight-to-the-death battle featured on reality television.
As expected, the concerns with such as storyline are mostly related to violence, not the theological concerns ofÂ Harry PotterÂ or the supernatural oddities ofÂ Twilight. InÂ Schindlerâ€™s List-like manner,Â The Hunger Games full movieÂ uses violence to show the ugliness of violence in a world where society views gore as entertainment.
On the positive side, the storyline works. The brutal teen-on-teen violence featured in the book finds itself played out on screen using quick camera cuts and other tricks to keep the sequences in the PG-13 range. While violent, the scenes are what Americans have come to anticipate in a PG-13 action film.
The Hunger GamesÂ 2012 movie quality is also much better than average, offering both special effects and impressive drama that compete with the best movies of recent years, especially those targeted to a teen audience (in contrast with many of todayâ€™s superhero spinoff films).
On the negative side, the same action that drives the novelâ€™s rapid pace unfolds on screen featuring repeated teenage violence and murder on a scale that both horrifies and desensitizes the viewer. We are shown the sad end of violence while also encouraged to cheer the ugly end of certain characters in a good-defeats-evil style that ultimately reveals the dark side in us all.
From a biblical worldview, much can be mentioned. For example, Peeta is somewhat portrayed as the Messiah-like figure, a bakerâ€™s son (bread of life?) who gives his life to suffer for others. The key characters, especially the lead female Katniss Everdeen, express concern for those who are exploited, hurt, or left in poverty, especially the weakness of her own sister and younger opponent Rue.
A strong sense of â€œfamilyâ€ and friendship can also be observed throughout the drama. Disparities between the rich and poor are clearly articulated. Both Katniss and Peeta are often forced into situations that question our ethics. For example, would we kill in self-defense? Would we murder a teenager to save the life of someone we love? While the decisions in the film are primarily displayed from a situational ethic, the questions are both universal and spiritual.
As a parent or church leader, would I want my teenagers to watch this film?Â Personally, I absolutely would not. Why would it require seeing the opened eyes of multiple dead young people to teach my children that killing is evil? Why would I encourage teenagers to watch yet another movie that features violence and death among teenagers? Even the positive moral lessons presented inÂ The Hunger GamesÂ do not require viewing such graphic content to communicate the lesson.
In fact, what will happen if one unstable teenager takes The Hunger Games idea seriously? A teen murder mob fighting to the death until one remains?Â Art, including films, do not only reflect culture; they also shape culture.Â Time will tell whether the impact ofÂ The Hunger GamesÂ will mostly be remembered by its positive virtues (Katniss volunteering for The Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, for instance) or its violent murder-as-sport storyline.
Certainly, many will watchÂ The Hunger Games full movie online for freeÂ and have questions regarding the filmâ€™s message and content. In addition to deciding whether you should see the film or encourage others to do so, you can seek to provide answers to questions people have after watching it.
In many cases, these questions will likely revolve around the decisions we are forced to make in difficult situations. If so, this opens a powerful opportunity to discussÂ the importance of developing a biblical worldviewÂ that informs the way we make decisions or deal with moments of life and death. Ethics of right and wrong are behaviors decided based on our beliefs. As Christians, our goal must therefore be to develop beliefs that honor God and are built upon his desires for our lives.
On a side note, in terms of language and sexuality, the concerns are relatively mild compared to many PG-13 films. Words such as dâ€” are used on occasion. A typical teen kissing sequence takes place on one occasion. The name of God (â€œOh my God!â€) happens a couple of times. Again, the main concern is violenceâ€”and much of itâ€”that should concern us all.
When teens killing teens as sport becomes a cultureâ€™s bestselling film, what does it say of our culture?Â As Christians, we are called to embrace the importance of every life. Jesus calls us to serve as peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), living distinctly different from the society around us.
In the end,Â The Hunger Games 2012Â provides a graphic tale of a world gone wrong to portray the importance of critical values to societyâ€”especially love, compassion, and freedom. While we can affirm these positives qualities, we donâ€™t have to affirm the need to portray graphic violence, especially targeted toward teenagers and children, to communicate the message.
Many teach that we learn best through our experiences, an ideaÂ The Hunger Games movieÂ appears to affirm. Yet it is far better to learn from Godâ€™s wisdom, both in his Word and through the positive examples of faith-enriched films, media, and people that present better redeeming qualities than those represented in this film.
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