Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
Every human life is valuable. The taking of lives is tragic.
war in the Bible
What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer
bravery / courage / self-sacrifice
Evil governments, and our enemy the Devil, use FEAR to control people. How can we overcome that?
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.”
the importance of hope
If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer
|Featuring:|| Jennifer Lawrence … Katniss Everdeen
Gwendoline Christie … Commander Lyme
Elizabeth Banks … Effie Trinket
Natalie Dormer … Cressida
Liam Hemsworth … Gale Hawthorne
Julianne Moore … President Alma Coin
Jena Malone … Johanna Mason
Josh Hutcherson … Peeta Mellark
Sam Claflin … Finnick Odair
Woody Harrelson … Haymitch Abernathy
Philip Seymour Hoffman … Plutarch Heavensbee
Robert Knepper … Antonius
Stanley Tucci … Caesar Flickerman
Donald Sutherland … President Snow
|Director:||Francis Lawrence—“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1” (2014), “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (2013), “I Am Legend” (2007)|
Let me begin with a confession. When I was in high school, I despised the novel Lord of the Flies, which we were required to read. It was a story about children stranded on an island who became little more than animals, killing one another to stay alive. When I heard about the original Hunger Games, I was among those who thought I would despise it, as well. However, as the series continued, two things became clear to me. First, the movies were clearly based on a book series which has a depth not found in typical Hollywood scripts. Second, the films are a warning about centralized government, media control, and even rebellion. The best theme of the film is that family is the greatest threat to abusive power.
Of course, analyzing this requires many spoilers, so I have decided to divide this review into different section with Spoiler alerts in one section. Consequently, the reader who wishes to avoid spoilers (and there are plenty) may skip over those sections clearly marked with ““***SPOILER***”.” Let us then begin with the cinematic quality itself.
“Mockingjay—Part 2” benefits from a lavish budget in what has become a very popular series. The special effects are top notch, as are the sets, costumes, and acting. This is particularly impressive given that many of the actors were mere teenagers when the series began. One rarely finds this level of acting among children. Overall, the viewer feels that they are truly in a dark futuristic dystopia. I believe that “Mockingjay—Part 2” is the best of the series in many ways. The foremost of those is one that some readers may disagree with… its themes.
***SPOILER*** We know that “Catching Fire” ends with the outbreak of Revolution. In the Mockingjay films we see that revolution, but the plot twist is obvious to any student of history. From the very outset, there are hints given that the leaders of the Revolution are not necessarily freedom loving patriots. “President” Coin (we are never told who, if anyone, elected her) soon comes to view Katniss not as just a useful tool, but as a potential threat. The big plot twist in the film takes place when Coin declares herself “interim President” with no promises as to when a free election will take place. ***END SPOILER***
In many ways “Mockingjay—Part 2” is a very dark film. It is a realistic film, in the context of a science fiction movie. Its themes are warnings about centralized governments, about the power of the media and “entertainment” to control a populous, and even about rebellion. Many Christians, to this very day, debate over whether or not “rebellion against tyranny is obedience to God” (as Benjamin Franklin said) or whether or not it is rebellion against God’s appointed authority (cf. Romans 13:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-15).
The answer to this question is not as simple as either side of the argument may wish. Paul and Peter were both executed for rebellion against Rome, for when they refused to sacrifice to Caesar, they were considered just that… rebels. However, it is clear that they opposed violent revolution against the empire.
Obviously, the issue is too complex to answer here, but it is for this very reason that I enjoyed the theme of “Mockingjay.” Anyone who knows history knows that rebellion too often ends with one dictator replacing another—sometimes a far worse dictator. This is why government should never be seen as the solution to our problems. Jesus did not come in the first century to secure political freedom and liberty. It is important to understand that. He came to bear the wrath for our sins. When He returns, He will indeed bring justice, but that justice will come at the point of a sword (cf. Revelation 19:15). That is the sober reality of sinful man.
It is therefore regretful that the one thing missing from the Mockingjay films is God. Family provided a strong theme for the film, and such makes the movie very strong, but by eliminating God from the picture, there is little hope. Even the ending to the film, in which Katniss is seen comforting her children in a free world many years after the revolution, seems downbeat. Why? Because, for all its sober warning, the film fails to recognize that we are only truly free in Jesus Christ.
In terms of sex and language, “Mockingjay—Part 2” is refreshingly free of offending material. There is no foul language or taking of the Lord’s name in vain, that I heard. There is some romance and kissing, and two people do lay in bed together, but they are fully clothed and do not appear to engage in any sexual act. There is a scene concerning drugs and one of the rebel’s desire to steal some morphine to help her escape reality, but this is all save the big issue… violence.
Director Francis Lawrence has called “Mockingjay—Part 2” the most violent of the “Hunger Games” films. Indeed, the body count is very high, as it is a film about revolution. However, in terms of graphic violence, I do not consider it as bad as the first film. Nevertheless, let us not take the violence lightly, for there is ample violence, including a scene where hundreds of children are bombed and killed. Although we do not see anything explicit in the scene, the barbarity of the act is apparent, and critical to the film’s plot, as well.
In addition to this are many other scenes of violence. The most graphic is a long scene involving zombie-like creatures that attack Katniss and her crew. They fight and kill many of these creatures, and some of the crew are killed as well. The scenes are obviously violent, as is the scene where several people have their legs blown off. Again, there is no explicit graphic content, but it is obvious what has happened, and we do get brief glimpses of the men with half of their legs missing. Such scenes are common throughout the film and warrant the PG-13 rating. It is likely that there are more violent scenes which were cut out of the final print, as Francis Lawrence has said that the original cut was almost three full hours. Doubtless we will see a “Director’s Cut” on DVD sometime in the future, so beware that it may be even more violent.
It is abundantly clear that “Mockingjay—Part 2” is based on a book, for it has far greater depth than one would expect from a Hollywood film. ***SPOILER*** The film ends with Katniss holding a baby in her arms. ***END SPOILER*** Such is an appropriate end for the film, but it is clear that family is among the central themes of the films. This is why Karl Marx and Engels said that “communism abolishes the family.” To have such enormous centralized power, the government needs “society” to supersede the family. Family is to be looked at as a selfish institution and “society” must take precedence over it, but Katniss is nothing without love for her family. In the film, everything she did was for the protection of her family. So the themes of centralized government, media control, rebellion, and family constitute the important themes of the film, and it is these themes which make the Mockingjay more than just another Lord of the Flies.
Let each reader decide for themselves, but, for me, if we are going to waste our time watching a film, I would rather watch one whose themes are compatible, if incomplete, with our own. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons that Christians may want to avoid this film, but there are also many reasons to choose this sort of film over a less “offensive” film like “Star Wars.” So take warning: if you want to see a sober warning on the nature of man, government, and family, this may be worth it. If you just want a pure entertainer, with little or no violence, then this is not for you. Either way, very young children should not watch the film. You decide whether to watch it or not, but remember that “whatever you do, do it as if for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.