Doug Wright's take: Familiarity with 'Hunger Games' pays off
Warning: Spoiler alert. This details how key plot points of "The Hunger Games" book are portrayed in the movie. If you haven't read the book and prefer to be surprised by the movie, don't read on.
For any conscientious parent who has evaluated whether "The Hunger Games" trilogy is appropriate reading for their children, the film adaptation presents a whole new challenge. Meanwhile, fans of the book may just want to know how the scenes they've already read will translate to film.
Here are some points to consider before seing the movie:
• The film version of "The Hunger Games" is violent and definitely merits a PG-13 rating. Among the images viewers will be confronted with are a brick being smashed into someone's head (mostly implied), a small boy's throat being cut, a girl screaming as she is swarmed by genetically modified wasps, a boy's neck being broken, a boy taking an arrow to the chest, a girl being slammed to death against the metal cornucopia (mostly implied), dead bodies and gory wounds.
• Many viewers will find that the visual violence in "The Hunger Games" movie is not elevated to the descriptive levels of the book. Most of the killings actually take place off screen (like the scene where a girl builds a fire and is tracked down by the "career tributes"). Or they are shown from a distance or through a shaky camera lens.
• While the violence is not often graphic, it is harrowing and disturbing. Death and despair are constant. Parents should give equal attention to whether their children can handle the emotional weight of the themes as they do to the issue of violence.
• The scene where the tributes dash to the cornucopia to open the Games is, understandably, the most violent and intense of the film. It's a frenetic scene with flying knives, slashing swords and falling bodies. The most disturbing image is of the powerful Cato slashing a smaller boy's throat.
• The tracker jacker attack is intense and graphic. Glimmer's dead, swollen body in the aftermath could be disturbing for many.
• Cato is sufficiently ruthless, and at one point, he breaks a young boy's neck.
• Rue's death is heartwrenching, but not gratuitous. The gore is minimal, yet the emotional aftermath — as Katniss places flowers on the body and weeps for her friend — is emotionally intense and powerful.
• The final conflict in the book is gruesome, lengthy and disturbing. The film, however, spares viewers many of the gory details by simplifying, toning down and speeding up the climax. The muttations, though ruthless and scary, are not nearly as disturbing as you might expect — or fear.
• Nudity is often mentioned in the book as part of the makeover and presentation process the tributes are subjected to. The film, however, does not contain any nudity.
• The scenes with kissing between Katniss and Peeta are mild.
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