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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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Louis of France: At his coronation as king of France, Louis IX bound himself by oath to behave as God’s anointed, as the father of his people and feudal lord of the King of Peace. Other kings had done the same, of course. Louis was different in that he actually interpreted his kingly duties in the light of faith. After the violence of two previous reigns, he brought peace and justice. 
<p>He was crowned king at 12, at his father’s death. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled during his minority. When he was 19 and his bride 12, he was married to Marguerite of Provence. It was a loving marriage, though not without challenge. They had 11 children. </p><p>Louis “took the cross” for a Crusade when he was 30. His army seized Damietta ini Egypt but not long after, weakened by dysentery and without support, they were surrounded and captured. Louis obtained the release of the army by giving up the city of Damietta in addition to paying a ransom. He stayed in Syria four years. </p><p>He deserves credit for extending justice in civil administration. His regulations for royal officials became the first of a series of reform laws. He replaced trial by battle with a form of examination of witnesses and encouraged the use of written records in court. </p><p>Louis was always respectful of the papacy, but defended royal interests against the popes and refused to acknowledge Innocent IV’s sentence against Emperor Frederick II. </p><p>Louis was devoted to his people, founding hospitals, visiting the sick and, like his patron St. Francis (October 4), caring even for people with leprosy. (He is one of the patrons of the Secular Franciscan Order.) Louis united France—lords and townsfolk, peasants and priests and knights—by the force of his personality and holiness. For many years the nation was at peace. </p><p>Every day Louis had 13 special guests from among the poor to eat with him, and a large number of poor were served meals near his palace. During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were given a meal, and Louis often served them in person. He kept lists of needy people, whom he regularly relieved, in every province of his dominion. </p><p>Disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria, he led another crusade in 1267, at the age of 41. His crusade was diverted to Tunis for his brother’s sake. The army was decimated by disease within a month, and Louis himself died on foreign soil at the age of 44. He was canonized 27 years later.</p> American Catholic Blog God passes through the thicket of the world, and wherever His glance falls He turns all things to beauty. <br />–St. John of the Cross

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