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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence star in the movie "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."
The time has come, it seems, to return to Panem, the dystopian North American nation that provides the setting for the satisfying action sequel "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (Lionsgate), just as it did for the 2012 first installment in the series.

Should they decide to make the return trip, moviegoers will find that, in adapting the second volume in Suzanne Collins' best-selling trilogy of novels, director Francis Lawrence has decreased the intensity of the violence on screen. And his film's moral center is solid.

On the other hand, Simon Beaufoy and Michael deBruyn's script includes a few vulgarities and at least one sexual flourish not found in the original. So parents will once again need to consider carefully whether this is suitable fare for the targeted demographic of teens.

As viewers of the kickoff will know, together with her friend, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), franchise heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) managed to emerge victorious from the ordeal of the titular tournament. This annual event sees youngsters drawn at random from the ranks of Panem's oppressed underclass forced to battle to the death for the entertainment of their society's pampered elite.

But it was an act of defiance that led to Katniss and Peeta's shared triumph: Told that only one of them could survive, they threatened simultaneous suicide so there would be no victor, and the authorities relented. This successful stratagem has made Katniss a symbol of resistance to the downtrodden.

With rebellion stirring, Panem's President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is determined to use Katniss as a pawn in his plans for a repressive power play. Conniving along with him is Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the new supervisor of the games.

Katniss and Peeta rely, once again, on the help of Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) a hard-drinking veteran of the deadly contest who prepared them for combat last time, and on that of Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), the kind-hearted guide assigned to watch over them when they were first selected.

An unexpected turn of events brings the audience back to the fatal arena for what might be called an all-star version of the Hunger Games. It also resurrects the question why young people would want to flock to such a spectacle, even in fictional form. The dark theme underlying the proceedings, together with the elements listed below, makes this a safer bet for grownups—though it may possibly be acceptable for mature adolescents.

The film contains much action violence with occasional gore, a scene of torture, a sexually provocative act with implied nudity, a couple of bleeped-over rough terms, at least one crude expression and a few crass phrases. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13— parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Mary Magdalene: Except for the mother of Jesus, few women are more honored in the Bible than Mary Magdalene. Yet she could well be the patron of the slandered, since there has been a persistent legend in the Church that she is the unnamed sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus in Luke 7:36-50. 
<p>Most Scripture scholars today point out that there is no scriptural basis for confusing the two women. Mary Magdalene, that is, “of Magdala,” was the one from whom Christ cast out “seven demons” (Luke 8:2)—an indication, at the worst, of extreme demonic possession or, possibly, severe illness. </p><p>Father Wilfrid J. Harrington, O.P., writing in the <i>New Catholic Commentary</i>, says that “seven demons” “does not mean that Mary had lived an immoral life—a conclusion reached only by means of a mistaken identification with the anonymous woman of Luke 7:36.” Father Edward Mally, S.J., writing in the <i>Jerome Biblical Commentary,</i> agrees that she “is not...the same as the sinner of Luke 7:37, despite the later Western romantic tradition about her.” </p><p>Mary Magdalene was one of the many “who were assisting them [Jesus and the Twelve] out of their means.” She was one of those who stood by the cross of Jesus with his mother. And, of all the “official” witnesses that might have been chosen for the first awareness of the Resurrection, she was the one to whom that privilege was given. She is known as the "Apostle to the Apostles."</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus does not save us as individuals, but as members of His Body. We are not just people—unconnected and isolated arms and legs. We are a people—in fact, the People of God.

 
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