NZ Herald 7 April 2012
New movie sensation The Hunger Games has pushed death and violence to centre stage in teen films. Critics and parents are divided over whether it has gone too far. On your marks. Get set. Kill. Teens scramble for medieval weapons to slaughter each other in the “bloodbath” during the opening minutes of The Hunger Games. Brutal adversaries wield swords and clubs across the grassy arena, cutting down a boy who tries to hide behind boxes. Cannons boom for each of the slain. Our doe-eyed heroine, Katniss Everdeen, makes for the bushes and the games begin. Undaunted or possibly attracted by all the killing, teenagers around the country have rushed to The Hunger Games in record numbers – its opening weekend take of $1.6 million at the New Zealand box office slayed previous teen fantasy blockbusters Twilight and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. But some critics are asking if the movie marks a dangerous new level of violence and gore in teen movies, which were already pushed beyond previously acceptable limits by the earlier series.
….Family First’s Bob McCoskrie saw The Hunger Games as an example of Hollywood and its distributors eyeing the shocking and explicit as market value for drawing in young movie-goers. “The fact that it’s been given an M-rating shows they are pushing the envelope.” But New Zealand’s Chief Censor, Dr Andrew Jack, doesn’t buy the line young people are seeing more blood on the big screen. The Office of Film Classification continued to get complaints about the level of violence in unrestricted movies, but the number was “fairly static”, he said. Although many of the complaints stemmed from cross-rating, and a clash of transtasman values and attitudes, he still held the authority to test a cross-rated film against New Zealand law and lift a rating.