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Movie Review

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire also known as “The Hunger Games 2”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Sci-Fi Action Thriller Teen Drama Sequel IMAX
2 hr. 26 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
November 22, 2013 (wide—4,100+ theaters)
DVD: March 7, 2014
Copyright, Lionsgate Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lionsgate Films

Are young people today becoming desensitized to real world violence around them?

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

the importance of hope

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If real people in our world, who are truly suffering, looked at your life, what would they see? Would your life seem frivolous? Self-indulgent? Excessive?

Are you living a COMPASSIONATE life? (getting involved in helping those who are suffering)

Every human life is valuable. The taking of lives is tragic.

Refuse to give in to evil.

Refuse to compromise about what is truly right and good.

RIGHT AND WRONG—Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer

bravery and courage

Evil governments, and our enemy the Devil, use FEAR to control people. How can we overcome that?

OVERCOMING FEAR—What does the Bible say? Answer

totalitarian governments

importance of personal freedom

dangers of big government control

What are the mechanics of totalitarian governments?

society in a repressive and controlled state, under the guise of being utopian

compare the film’s live televised spectacles to the ancient Roman Colosseum’s games and events, produced for public entertainment and political control

the trilogy’s coming constant battle for freedom against tyranny


media control and manipulation / What are the ways that media “play” the masses in the favor of those in control?

What is generally wrong with the way celebrity is created in our culture?

Are today’s youth being overexposed to contrived reality on television, leading to a detachment from images of others’ real pain and terror?

“What’s your relationship to reality TV versus your relationship to the news?”

Author Suzanne Collins says, “Too much of people’s lives are put on television, and we’re desensitised to actual tragedy unfolding before us.”

Featuring: Jennifer LawrenceKatniss Everdeen
Liam HemsworthGale Hawthorne
Josh Hutcherson … Peeta Mellark
Elizabeth BanksEffie Trinket
Sam Claflin … Finnick Odair
Jena MaloneJohanna Mason
Woody HarrelsonHaymitch Abernathy
Alan Ritchson … Gloss
Stanley TucciCaesar Flickerman
Willow Shields … Primrose Everdeen
Philip Seymour HoffmanPlutarch Heavensbee
Donald SutherlandPresident Snow
Jeffrey WrightBeetee
Stephanie Leigh Schlund … Cashmere
Paula Malcomson … Katniss’ Mother
Lenny Kravitz … Cinna
Amanda Plummer … Wiress
Toby JonesClaudius Templesmith
more »
Director: Francis Lawrence
Producer: Color Force
more »
Distributor: Lionsgate Films

“Every revolution begins with a spark.”

Prequel: “The Hunger Games” (2012)

“Catching Fire” starts where the first Hunger Games film ended. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peetah Malark (Josh Hutcherson) are the victors of the 74th Annual Hunger Games. After their victory, their life of fame, as the two star-crossed lovers of District 12, takes them on a victory tour through the other 11 districts. As they tour, giving their respects to fallen tributes, the struggle for Katniss and Peetah lies in their “real” feelings for each other off camera. Do they really love each other, or is it just pretend?

In addition, a revolution has begun in the other districts, due to Katniss and Peetah’s victory in the Games, putting President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in a difficult position, pondering how to stop the districts’ uprisings. He decides to use Katniss as an example by destroying her good reputation, and, because it is the Tribunal 75th Annual Hunger Games, to call previous victors to compete once again in the Hunger Games.

These Hunger Games will push Katniss to the breaking point. Will she be victorious once again? Or will the 75th Games prove too much for even the Katniss Everdeen to handle?

Most of readers of this review are probably fans of either The Hunger Games books or the first Hunger Games movie. Personally, I am a fan of the movies, and have never read the books.

My first reaction to this film, based on the trailers was a “goodness, no.” But a friend convinced me to see it, and I fell in love with the series. After viewing the first film, I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to review “Catching Fire,” and requested the assignment almost a year beforehand.

Naturally, it stands to reason, my expectations were high for “Catching Fire”. Instead of detailing in a lengthy paragraph what I thought was better in this second installment, I’ll sum it up with bullet points…

The Good

  • The character development: The characters are more developed than in the previous film. We learn more about Katniss as a human being, the side of her when she’s not acting like a tough girl. We see her struggles with the lives she had to take, her conflicting feelings between her life-long friend Gale and her recent attraction (or at least friendship) with Peetah. As for Peetah, we see growth in him as well. His character has developed more from the first film, still showing him as the first guy to sacrifice, while still being able to play politics with the Capitol citizens.

  • The performances: While the performances by Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland, and Josh Hutcherson are certainly fine in “The Hunger Games,” in “Catching Fire” they are mind-blowing, to put it in laymen’s terms. I’m not surprised Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for “The Silver Linings Playbook”. She earned it, and the growth I’ve seen from her professional career in a year is nothing short of impressive.

  • The scenery: In the first Hunger Games, the setting was limited to District 12, the Capitol, and the arena. In “Catching Fire,” we see the different districts, the Capitol and Arena (I was impressed with the beauty of the Amazon arena). Along with scenery, the special effects are the best I’ve seen thus far.

The Bad

  • The violence: This will be where Christian families are going to have to struggle over whether “Catching Fire” is okay to watch. While it’s true this story is fictitious, to some degree, a society like this could exist if given the right circumstances. The violence, just like the first film, is ever present (of course, most of it comes in the Games), and some of the things that happen to the Tributes are downright disturbing (I’ll speak more on that in the Content section below). Look into this movie bearing in mind that what you got in the first film you will get in the second film, and then some.

Content of concern

Violence: Heavy… maybe even Extreme. There are some disturbing scenes that make this movie unsuitable for children under 13 (hence the rating). While there are scenes where people are shot with arrows, machete chopped, and have their necks twisted. There are a couple scenes in District 12 where two citizens are seen being flogged by Peacekeepers in front of the other citizens. While giving a speech during the Victory tour, Katniss, as she’s being dragged into a building, watches an old man being shot in the back of the head as the doors close (we later see his corpse dragged off). Cinna is also flogged, beaten and kicked before the games start. There are several scenes where blood can be seen.

One scene that is sickening occurs during the Games, a poisonous fog comes across the fields, and when Tributes touch it, it burns them and leaves blisters (or boils) on their skin (they clear up, but we hear the Tributes scream in the process). Other scenes that are a problematic involve Tributes being rained on with blood, one Tribute sacrificing herself, dead bodies floating in the water, and people being shocked by force fields. I’m probably missing some of the violent scenes, but the bottom line is that there is A LOT to look out for.

Profanity: Mild to Moderate: I heard one instance of “sh*t.” When being interviewed on TV, Joanna, a Tribute, when asked why she’s angry says something along the lines of “Yeah, I’m angry. I thought when I won I could live in peace and not have to fight again. I got scr*wed!” and then throws the f-bomb out to the people to hear. Other profanity includes two instances of sh*t, some instances of d*mn (according to another source, PluggedIn).

Sex/Nudity: Moderate to Heavy. Several passionate kisses are exchanged. One of the Tributes kisses Katniss on the lips. One scene is where Joanna walks into the elevator with Peetah and Haymitch and Katniss and starts undressing until she is nude in front of them and walks out of the elevator (most of her nudity is not shown, shots are shown from her back and of her shoulders). Joanna, while walking out, makes a comment to Peetah to the effect that since he’s a victor, all the girls want to “sleep” around with him.

Other Content: People are seen at a party being served a drink that makes them throw up in order to eat more. There are scenes where blood is shown. Peetah and Katniss continually lie to the public (except during their speeches to the other districts), and Peetah even remarks that Katniss and he are married and expecting a child. There’s also a really creepy scene that will remind many of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

Spiritual Lessons

Themes of courage, bravery, and sacrifice are present in “Catching Fire.” But one theme sticks out just as much… the idea of being true to yourself. Katniss and Peetah have to lie and “pretend” about their relationship on camera, because of their fame and the actions of the Hunger Games. Even Peetah remarks, “I can’t pretend to be in love on camera and then not when off camera.” The same is true with the Christian walk. In order to be a true follower of Christ, we are asked to choose who we are. The Bible says that those who cannot choose whether they love God or not are people that God considers lukewarm and that He spits them from his mouth. Being true to yourself and to God is what faith and belief are centered around.

As I was searching around other sites this week, I looked back at the review from Mr. Landes who reviewed the first Hunger Games on this site. His stance, as far as I read, was that violence as entertainment in this form, should not be promoted. He is right. This movie, without a doubt, is disturbing. (Don’t see “Catching Fire” if you have not seen the first, either).

What we have in “Catching Fire” is still the same amount of violence as the first, still making it offensive to watch, but it is a sequel where the violence isn’t quite the primary focus this time around. The moviemaking quality, the take on the story, and the performances, in general, are much better developed. I’m sure in the viewer comments there will be those who are for and against this film. Personally, I loved this installment, even though, from a Christian perspective, I can’t recommend it. I definitely DO NOT recommend it to children in any way, shape, or form, or to anyone who cannot handle extreme violence. But, teens and adults, if you are willing to look past the violence, to the deeper side of this film, you may wish to see it. Ultimately, it’s up to the viewer to decide…

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—What is impressive and admirable about “The Hunger Games” to me is the portrayal of people who are trying to do right, do good, even self sacrifice for others, speaking out, speaking from the heart, courage in spite of danger, taking risks to help and care for others, and encouraging others. “The Hunger Games” reflects people desperately living under tyranny. The pretentious elite in The Capital living extravagantly at the expense of the impoverished citizens of the 12 districts reflects many societies throughout human history: Pharaoh and the Hebrew slaves, King Herod killing the innocent babies in Bethlehem, the Roman Empire and slaves forced into the gladiator arenas, the American Revolution fighting against tyranny, the French Revolution, Nazi Germany forcing Jewish people and others first into ghettos then concentration camps, the Soviet Union and elite socialist party members and Hungary and Poland’s Solidarity movement, the students in Tianeman Square in Communist China.

Beyond the violence of the games, I see people inspired to try to end the evil around them by someone who stepped up and took her sister’s place to save her. So Jesus Christ took our place to save us, and by His example continues to give sight to the blind (including opening eyes to deception), liberate the captives, inspire us to help and care for others, and proclaim the good news to the poor. In many tyrannical and oppressive societies, God has raised up unlikely ordinary people to lead and accomplish the extraordinary. Liberty vs. Tyranny. The Truth sets us free.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Tori, age 40+ (USA)
Positive— I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! I thought Thor 2 was good (of course, I always knew the Thor movies always lacked emotion and feeling)! But this movie was so much better; better than the first, as well. It was so intense and dramatic, with AWESOME acting. Now for the moral content, a girl strips down completely in an elevator (I looked at my purse with quick glances up now and then during that part, so I can’t tell you how much skin was shown, but I got the impression [before I looked down again] that the camera showed her butt, but seriously doubt they showed her chest area, not that I would know, but seriously, it’s “The Hunger Games” movies, they are more appropriate than R-rated! There were also several kissing scenes, only a few swear words, some uses of the Lord’s name in vain (not a huge amount), and perhaps a few thing that I don’t remember at the moment.

But I warn you! I haven’t read the books (although I was told about the best stuff by those who had [they weren’t loving the movie as much as I was], and they seemed to keep to the book pretty well). But like I said, this is coming from someone who hasn’t read the books. But, overall, I loved it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Rosey, age 18 (USA)
Positive—I loved this movie! It was, in my opinion, better than the first. I loved the way the character’s developed, and that it stayed pretty true to the books. There wasn’t really anything objectionable, as far as content wise, with the exception of the elevator scene. I don’t know why they added that in, it wasn’t in the books.

In reference to a previous Viewer Comment, they did not show anything at all. They showed her shoulders and her back as she left the elevator, but not her butt as the other person implied (it helps to actually watch the whole thing to make that assertion). It was an uncomfortable scene more for the reactions elicited by her disrobing than the actual disrobing. The scene with the monkeys might scare younger kids, so be aware of that.

The graphics were amazing and my friends, and I came away very happy with the film. Overall, it was well worth the admission price.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kathy, age 43 (USA)
Positive—Quite the movie and quite the series. “Catching Fire” has a lot going on, and it is all intense. There is the rebellion simmering in the background, the tyranny of the capital, the love triangle between the three main characters, the drama of the games and the loyalties of the tributes—all interwoven into an epic sequel. The acting and character development of the main characters (especially Jennifer Lawrence) is all first rate. The movie draws you in.

In addition, and what I find sets the best movies apart, the acting of the secondary figures throughout the film is also convincing. Yes, we are aware that this is just a movie, but it continually touches on real-to-life themes such as oppression, sacrifice, love and friendship.

Parents should be aware that the violence in “Catching Fire” is intense and a notch up from the first film. Younger viewers could be disturbed. The violence is a part of the setting, and I did not find it gratuitous. In fact, the overall message is one of moral values. Still, there are a number of graphic scenes which I do not think younger teens and especially children need be exposed to. I am sure the violence will be a source of controversy, considering this film is only rated PG-13.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Todd Adams, age 46 (Canada)
Hunger Games, The: Catching Fire (2012)
Positive—I read the official comments for this movie wondering if we had watched the same film. If the reviewer thinks that the violence in this movie was graphic, then he has not seen many truly violent films. Yes, there was violence, but, in my eyes, it was somewhat subdued COMPARED TO OTHER FILMS. Yes, there was blood, and people were injured and killed in various ways. It could have been way more graphic and bloody and cruel than it was.

I was tense and on the edge of my seat the entire time. The film was fantastic. The notion of sacrificing oneself for another ran throughout the movie. No, it was not for young children, but I would not consider it offensive at all.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jeff Mazza, age 54 (USA)
Positive—Wow!! This is one the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It was very well adapted from the book and very well acted. Everyone did an outstanding job in this film. I wouldn’t recommend this film to younger kids or those who haven’t seen the first one. The violence that was in the movie was expected. It’s nice to see a movie where the young people are standing up for what is right. I definitely recommend this movie and believe there are a lot of great lessons in it for how we as Christians should stand up for what we believe in.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Christie, age 24 (USA)
Positive—I find it hard to believe that someone gave this movie a negative rating because it had inappropriate content for the “crew of 5 11 year olds” that she took to go see it. Did you not see that this movie is rated PG-13? Were you unaware of the violence in the first Hunger Games? I don’t even let my 14 and 15 year olds watch many PG-13 movies, because many of them would have been rated R when I was their age. And I never let them watch anything until I check sites like this one, Plugged-In, and Kids-In-Mind, so I know exactly what the content is going to be. The movie is very good if you like this type of movie. But it is NOT a children’s movie. Don’t give it a negative rating because YOU made a poor decision in taking 11 year olds.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Brian, age 50 (USA)
Positive—The reviewers of the two “Hunger Games” movies must inhabit some reality other than USA 2014. We live in a fallen, violent world which will remain so until our Lord returns. The fact that these movies so accurately portray a totalitarian society, one toward which we are rushing, should not engender silly remarks about violence but applause for lighting, if ever so slightly, our understanding of where our culture is headed. Put me down in the “must see” section.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Louis Nusser, age 63 (USA)
Negative—Maybe I am too old to appreciate the fantasy story on which this movie is based. I am open to movies of all sorts, and with the good reviews, including the one on this site, I went to see this film. I found the content offensive to the core, reflecting a twisted world with twisted morality that I did not even wish to comprehend. The acting was marginally good, except for Donald Sutherland, who is always outstanding, and the screenplay insipid. After a half hour, I left, and I hardly ever do that. There was nothing for me to like or enjoy.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Halyna Barannik, age 67 (USA)
Negative—Wow, lots of positive posts here, but, I have to say, this movie is disturbing. It’s one thing for me to watch a movie just me or with my husband. It’s another to watch a film targeted to tweens, teens, young adults. I was uncomfortable many times with my crew of 5 11 year olds. The disrobing in the elevator—sooo not appropriate. I thought I read in an interview it would last 6 seconds. No. It seemed very very long with the young eyes I had with me. I don’t care that no nudity was shown.

Peta and Katnis are lying on a bed together more than once. They have different rooms, but still, not necessary. The violence! The talk of killing this person, killing her, how can we kill these people and so forth. I felt old watching this movie. As a kid, I saw “Red Dawn” and that was a movie based on teenagers going to war in a totalitarian, dystopian type world. Yet I don’t recall the intensity that is in “Catching Fire.” The disturbing intensity.

I honestly can’t recommend this film for people under 18. It makes me sound like an old fuddy duddy but I was uncomfortable with the kids seeing this film. Oh yes, there is the s-word and bleeped out f-words. Not necessary. Really, you CAN make a great film without having to be that heavy handed.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Andrea, age 41 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I went to see this film with my Christian youth group a few days ago, all of us really excited about it. It was good, but it was not as exciting as I remember the book (maybe because I had already read it and knew what was going to happen). The film did stay quite true to the book; the only thing I can remember being added was Pr. Snow’s granddaughter, and the whole story about the Avox left out.

This is NOT a film for under 13s!! I wasn’t exactly scared, but it wasn’t comfortable to watch, and at a few points I did shed a tear. There was a lot of VIOLENCE, but only a little bit of blood, and, at one point, the characters were covered in poisoned boils. Katniss is definitely more aggressive in this film, although still against the games, and is starting to lose her sanity (which she does by the third book). She’s in this love triangle with Peeta and Gale, not knowing which one she actually loves. There are no SEX scenes but a lot of passionate kissing. SWEARING is not a lot, but there is the infrequent use of swear words.

The concept of the Games is completely unbiblical and evil, but I think a good depiction of what the world is becoming—children starving in third world countries while people in others waste food. The one thing that bothers me a lot about the film is that there is absolutely ZERO mention of God in this story… surely God still exists in the future?! But I guess it’s not a Christian film. The acting is good, and I am a huge fan of Jennifer Lawrence. Her chemistry with Josh Hutcherson is brilliant. The actual shooting locations are also brilliant, and nothing graphics-wise that I can remember looking odd. Over-all, I don’t think its a morally great film, but it does show a (slightly exaggerated) broken world in need of saving.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Alice Stonam, age 16 (South Africa)
Positive—This movie is a movie that makes you think. It kinda reminds me of the French Revolution and how that went, if you think about it. I don’t think this is a movie for children under 14. I wouldn’t rewatch it, cause I think it was kinda immoral.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Batman, age 14 (United Kingdom)
Positive—“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is a violent movie, however I felt, as I watched it, that in the midst of a horrible world they were being a change. Just like we can be as Christians.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Alexandra, age 16 (USA)
Positive—My grandmother took me to see “Catching Fire” the day after Thanksgiving. I had recently watched the first Hunger Games movie, which I enjoyed but did not have that “wow” factor for me. “Catching Fire” greatly exceeded my expectations in both staying true to the book, as well as having outstanding acting and cinematography. Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) has several scenes where she has to show deep emotion, and several times I found myself crying along with her.

If you like the kind of movie that stays true to the book that it is based off of, this movie will not disappoint. There was nothing added to the storyline that was not in the book, and some of the same lines from the book were used in the dialog. The only thing of importance the movie failed to portray was when Katniss and Gale saw the Avoxes in the forest. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Nicole S., age 13 (USA)
Positive—The Hunger Games is a series of books consisting of: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. They were written by Suzanne Collins. Two of the three books have been made into movies and those are “The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire.” “Catching Fire” is a great movie, but I suggest you watch the first one before you see the second, because they make some references from the first movie. Although there are not many references they are crucial in knowing what is going on.

To write a fair review I will start with the negatives of the movie, then the positives… I think there are a total of three “common” swear words in all, but there is one situation where one of the characters who is on TV drops an F-bomb, but because she is on TV, they bleep it, but they don’t blur her mouth, so you know exactly what she said. There are some kissing scenes that are a little more passionate that I think was necessary. Unfortunately, there is scene where the three main characters are in an elevator with an individual that promptly takes off all her clothes. Although you see her take her clothes off, you don’t see her body, except that you do see her bare top back, and her neck and face. There are two scenes where the two main characters are laying in the same bed together, but there is no suggested sexual intimacy or references. Some of the main character’s outfits are low cut. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—LW, age 17 (USA)
Positive—I really liked it. It is a great movie. This movie really causes you to think about society and if this would ever happen in real life. I feel like it brings out the evils and good in people. It reminds me of something that has happened in the past. The setting is basically a futuristic Rome. I also would strongly recommend the reading of the book. It is a great book.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Lorrayya, age 14 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Neutral—Thanks for the review. Really torn on this one—I have my son and 3 other middle schoolers hoping I will take them to see it. I told them they’d have to wait for this review. I think now they’ll have to wait until I see it on my own. Thanks again for keeping people informed before they head out to the movies.
—Andrea, age 41 (USA)
Negative—To be totally honest, I have no idea why this movie is so popular. First of all, the whole concept of it didn’t make sense from the very start, and second of all, it’s way too violent. I’ve heard of it being described as “kids killing kids.” I feel like movies such as this one are the reason for why people are so desensitized to scary images. I’m not supporting this film with my money, I don’t care how popular it is. I take pride in not following the crowd and being my own individual.
—T., age 20 (USA)

Sorry, no other viewer comments received yet. If you have seen this movie, PLEASE share your observations and insights with others to be posted here. GO