My twelve-year old son and I went to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I today. First, I'll admit that this is one series where I actually think the movies are better than the books - a rarity in my opinion. However, Mockingjay (the novel) was my least favorite of the three books in The Hunger Games trilogy. So, prior to seeing the movie, I was a little skeptical that filmmakers decided to break the final book into two parts (a blockbuster trend these days.) However, this movie did not disappoint and left us both on the edge of our seats.
The cast is superb and the film was true to the novel. Elizabeth Banks (Effie) and Woody Harrelson (Haymitch) offer comic relief and remain two of my favorite characters in the series. However, I am going to caution you greatly! This film squeaked by with a PG-13 rating and by "squeaked by" I mean please use your utmost discretion when allowing those younger than 13 to see it. In fact, although the entire series is marketed as young adult science fiction, parents should be leery of allowing those under 13 to see any of the movies in the trilogy. They are all unsettling on multiple levels. However, Mockingjay is particularly disturbing. The images go beyond fantasy violence into very realistic and graphic war violence. There are a number of horrific scenes including those depicting injured and dying civilians and decaying corpses in mass graves. In addition, there are so many contextual themes that younger audiences won't grasp I don't see the point in taking them. I think the most disconcerting part for my son (without giving away too much) was the physical and mental demise of one of the leading characters. It was understandably difficult to watch.
If you've seen the first two and enjoyed them, you will definitely like this film adaptation as well. At one point toward the end of the film, my son turned to me and said, "Wow, this is intense!" Intense is an understatement.