Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Adoption Movie Review

At the end of the previous film Katniss was attacked by Peeta, whose mind has been altered by the government. She is recuperating in District 13, and slowly works to regain her ability to speak. She is now determined to get revenge against President Snow for all of the cruelty and destruction he has brought to Panem. Katniss is assigned to a unit that is invading the capitol city, and her maybe-maybe-not once-boyfriend and now enemy Peeta is assigned to her unit. Katniss continues to face danger and loss on her quest to extract revenge and to liberate the people of Panem. Meanwhile, the leader of the rebel forces, President Coin, seems to have her heart set on liberating the people of Panem but also gaining power.

This review is sponsored by Bethany Christian Services. We believe every child deserves a loving family. Learn more about our adoption, counseling, and post-adoption services.  

*Spoiler Alerts Ahead the Rest of the Way*

The Adoption Connection

The Hunger Games series centers around Katniss, a 16-year-old girl who is taken away from her family by the government. Initially, her 12-year-old sister Prim had been selected, but Katniss volunteered to be taken in her stead, in order to save Prim from a government-mandated barbaric fight to the death. Katniss grieves her separation from her family, and continues to feel protective towards her sister. In the later events of the film series, Katniss is reunified with her mother and sister, and continues to protect her sister. ** BIG SPOILER ALERT:  But Katniss’ sister is eventually killed, and Katniss sees it happen. ***

Strong Points

By the end of the film, Katniss has been able to develop a happy life. She shares with a child that she still has nightmares, but she appears to function well in spite of the trauma she has experienced. For kids and teens who have experienced profound trauma, this could be very hopeful. Even if life has scarred you, you can still create a good and happy life. Even so, there is a challenge connected to one element of Katniss’ happy ending, and I’ll share that in a spoiler in the Challenges section below.

Some characters do express the need to stop treating others as enemies.

Katniss is brave.  


Katniss expresses a deep sense of felt guilt for the loss of her friends. Kids who have experienced trauma and loss often feel as though they blame the guilt for the loss and trauma they have suffered. Katniss’ friends assure her that they were voluntarily involved in the risk and that the loss is not her fault.

** BIG SPOILER:   Katniss is involved in a love triangle. One of her suitors may be responsible for the death of her sister. The other (while in a mind-altering condition), has brutally tried to kill Katniss twice, and has also tried to get someone else to kill her. Katniss ultimately does marry one of them, and they live happily ever after. Here’s my concern with this, though: Kids who’ve been in foster care have often experienced abuse. Kids who have experienced abusive relationships often – for whatever reason – end up with abusive partners. Teens will identify with Katniss, and teens – especially those who have been in abusive homes – might not need a love story that encourages you to stick with someone who has tried to kill you – offering as an excuse only that they weren’t themselves because their mind was altered. That’s dangerous thinking.   END SPOILER **
**SPOILER: Katniss’ sister was killed by a bomb. Katniss had dedicated much of her life to protecting her sister. We see her scream with grief on screen. END SPOILER **

Weak Points

The Hunger Games series involves lots of violence by and against children and teens. **BIG SPOILER: Katniss is reunified with her younger sister, Prim, but Prim is ultimately killed by a bomb.**

Revenge is a huge motivator for Katniss. She wants her enemy to “see my eyes when I kill him.” It also seems that her vengeance might even extend to the children and grandchildren of her defeated enemies. It’s concerning that even the virtuous victors are bloodthirsty for children.

There is a terrifying breed of mutated humanoids who appear to eat one of Katniss’ friends.

One character implies that he would have been better off had he let Katniss starve to death years ago.

Katniss encounters seeming protectors whom she cannot trust. When she finally does find a trustworthy adult, he is killed.

Children are ripped away from their parents in a scene of chaos. One screams for her mother.

Almost no one is trustworthy.

There is a public execution, and another character is killed by an angry mob.

The film, although entertaining and engaging – is almost entirely cheerless except for the final few moments.

There is a pervasive sense of never being safe, which could be troubling for kids who've lived in that fear.


Katniss suffers a couple profound losses and quite a bit of trauma in this last chapter of the Hunger Games series. She also makes a couple troubling decisions. This film seems likely to be best for viewers ages 15 and up, and it might be painful for kid who have experienced violence or the loss of relatives. Parents should be cautious with this one.

Questions for Discussion

If you were Katniss, would you have chosen Peeta or Gale, or neither?

How can Katniss know that she is safe with the man she chose?

How can you tell whether people are safe to be around or not?

Do you have any nightmares? How do you deal with them? Do you think most people have them?

This review is sponsored by Bethany Christian Services. We believe every child deserves a loving family. Learn more about our adoption, counseling, and post-adoption services. 

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