'Mockingjay Part 1' -- What Parents Need to Know About the New 'Hunger Games' Movie

katniss everdeen mockingjayFrom the books to the first two installments, The Hunger Games franchise has always been about kids and for kids. So as fans of Suzanne Collins' young adult book series know, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1 comes out in theaters on November 21 and reaches an all-time level of darkness and violence. So parents? Here's what you need to know before you decide whether to take the kids to see the film:


Mockingjay picks back up right after Catching Fire's Quarter Quell. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has been airlifted from the arena, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) has been kidnapped and brainwashed by the Capitol, and District 12 is in complete ruins.

Enter District 13, the home of the rebels, led by President Coin (Julianne Moore) with the help of Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields), and Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) now call it home. It's a drab, colorless, underground world where residents are slowly building up an insurgence. Their latest goal? Use Katniss as a powerful advertising weapon to encourage other districts to join their revolution by implementing propaganda videos (or "propos") and making her their single Mockingjay.

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When she first visits her old district, now just a collection of rubble, we can see the absolute terror the Capitol has inflicted. The homes are destroyed, there are no signs of life, and death is more than obvious. At one terrifying point, Katniss shudders after accidentally stepping on a skull. Yes, death is rightthere.

And it gets worse. Mockingjay is by far the most intense film of the franchise.

Though there is no kid-on-kid murder as there was in the first two films, the killing takes on a new form: Capitol-on-everyone-else. At one point in the film, Katniss visits a morgue, where hundreds of wrapped bodies lie side-by-side, and later sees a hospital and its countless sick, injured, and dying patients. Shortly after, the Capitol bombs the entire structure and destroys all the patients.

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The violence is not as immediate and sudden as it may have been in the first two films, but parents, get ready to answer some questions about violence, war, life and death, and political choices.

Between the ideas of war and propaganda, the brutal murder of several innocent people (at one point, a group is executed at point-blank range), the notion of sacrificing oneself for the good of others, and the massive power of political coercion, the film tackles some much more mature themes.

So yes, the PG-13 rating is appropriate and very, very fitting. There is, however, very minor cursing and no nudity for parents to worry about. So long as parents are willing to explain and talk about the darkness and violence, the film could serve as a catalyst for a very grown-up discussion.

Are you planning on taking your kids to see Mockingjay?


Image via Murray Close

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