Everything You Need to Know About The Hunger Games Banner

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 marks the fourth installment in the Hunger Games franchise, and it can be tough to remember all the important details that came before. Or, perhaps you haven’t seen any of the previous films, but want to check out the new one. We’ve got you covered with this guide to The Hunger Games.


The Hunger Games


Directed by Gary Ross. Produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik. Written by Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray. Release date: March 23, 2012.


The Hunger Games is a novel written by Suzanne Collins that spawned an entire franchise, cashed in on the current trend of adapting young adult novels into feature-length films – particularly those aimed at teenage girls – and gave those who can’t help themselves a childish way to make fun of another protagonist’s name. The first novel was published in 2008, and its movie adaptation was released in 2012 to relatively strong reviews and a boatload of money. Unlike some of its contemporaries, like Beautiful Creatures and The Mortal Instruments, we’re getting to see it through to the end. The plug has not been pulled, and the entire franchise has been adapted into movies.

The Characters

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence): The film’s protagonist. She volunteers to participate in the annual Hunger Games, taking the place of her sister, Primrose, who is chosen as District 12’s tribute. It is there where she must fight for survival. Remains our protagonist throughout the series.

Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson): The male tribute from District 12. Becomes love interest to Katniss, and her ally in the Hunger Games.

Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth): Katniss’ best friend in District 12. Stays behind and watches her compete in the Hunger Games.

Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson): An alcoholic who is tasked with mentoring District 12’s tributes.

Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks): The Capitol-assigned chaperone of the District 12 tributes.

Cinna (Lenny Kravitz): Katniss’ stylist and confidant.

Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci): The Master of Ceremonies and commentator for the Hunger Games.

Claudius Templesmith (Toby Jones): Commentator for the Hunger Games.

President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland): The ruler of Panem and the Capitol. The series’ antagonist.

Primrose “Prim” Everdeen (Willow Shields): Katniss’ sister. Initially chosen as District 12’s tribute for the Hunger Games, but her sister took her place.

Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley): The Gamemaker of the 74th Hunger Games.

Rue (Amandla Stenberg): A girl Katniss befriends in the Hunger Games.

The Plot

The land of Panem is split into 12 Districts and the Capitol. Every year, the Capitol chooses two members of each District – one male, one female – under the age of 18 to fight in an event called “the Hunger Games,” the winner of which is given food, supplies, and riches, a big deal, as each of the Districts is in a state of poverty. The Hunger Games – a fight to the death – are held with the idea of keeping the Districts in check, as well as provide entertainment to those living in the Capitol.

Primrose Everdeen is selected as the tribute for District 12 but is replaced by her sister, Katniss, after she volunteers. Peeta Mellark is selected as the male tribute. They head on a train toward the Capitol, accompanied by their chaperone, Effie, and their mentor, Haymitch. At the Capitol, they train, are told of the importance of getting the public on their side in order to get sponsors who will send them items during the Hunger Games, and they are given odds on their chance of surviving.

The Hunger Games begin, and a good number of combatants are killed right off the bat. Katniss survives on her own, while Peeta joins up with some highly favored contestants. Over the course of the games, she kills a few people but mostly survives by hiding and running. Along the way, a girl named Rue saves her life, and they team up for a brief while. Rue winds up dead, though, which stirs not just Katniss but many of the viewing public.

Peeta and Katniss eventually team up and pretend to fall in love to draw sympathy. The final three survivors meet, and Peeta and Katniss kill the third after throwing him to some dogs, which Gamemaker Crane unleashed to speed things along. Katniss and Peeta were at one point told they would both be allowed to win, since they’re from the same District, but those rules get changed as soon as they become the final two survivors. In an act of defiance, they decide to both eat poisonous berries, so nobody wins. The previous rule is reinstated, and they are declared co-winners. President Snow, displeased with both the result and the act of defiance, sends Crane to his death and begins to think of a way to punish Katniss and Peeta.

Is It Any Good?

Despite the obvious similarities to Battle Royale, The Hunger Games is still a good movie. It has a strong emotional involvement, is pretty exciting, does a good enough job at establishing its dystopic sci-fi society, and shows us teenagers killing other teenagers, something not seen often in movies – let alone in PG-13 movies. However, because of that PG-13 rating and some poor filmmaking choices, most of the action is obscured by choppy editing and shaky camerawork. It still ultimately works, but it’s hampered by some poor decisions.


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire


Directed by Francis Lawrence. Produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik. Written by Simon Beaufoy and Michael deBruyn. Release date: November 22, 2013.


After the overwhelming financial and moderate critical success of The Hunger Games, it was decided – if it wasn’t already – that its novel sequel, Catching Fire, would be made into a film, too. A new director, Francis Lawrence, was brought in; he would helm the final three movies in the series. The film was even more financially and critically successful and established The Hunger Games as one of the best young adult adaptations ever.

The Characters

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence): The film’s protagonist. She volunteered for the 74th Hunger Games, and was a co-winner. Possible love interest of both Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne.

Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson): The co-winner of the 74th Hunger Games, and possible love interest of Katniss Everdeen.

Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth): Katniss Everdeen’s best friend and possible love interest.

Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson): An alcoholic who mentored Katniss and Peeta in the 74th Hunger Games. He returns to that role in Catching Fire.

President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland): The ruler of Panem and the Capitol. The series’ antagonist.

Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks): The Capitol-assigned chaperone of the District 12 tributes.

Cinna (Lenny Kravitz): Katniss’ stylist and confidant.

Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci): The Master of Ceremonies and commentator for the Hunger Games.

Claudius Templesmith (Toby Jones): Commentator for the Hunger Games.

Primrose “Prim” Everdeen (Willow Shields): Katniss’ sister. Initially chosen as District 12’s tribute for the Hunger Games, but her sister took her place.

Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman): The Gamemaker of the 75th Hunger Games.

Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin): A contestant in the 75th Hunger Games who teams up with Katniss and Peeta.

Johanna Mason (Jena Malone): A contestant in the 75th Hunger Games who teams up with Katniss and Peeta.

Beetee Latier (Jeffrey Wright): A contestant in the 75th Hunger Games who teams up with Katniss and Peeta.

The Plot

After becoming co-winners of the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, President Snow has discovered that their defiance has begun to cause riots and rebellions in the various Districts. In hopes of quelling these acts, he tells Katniss to make all of Panem believe that she did not do it out of defiance and that she really loved Peeta. The co-winners are going on a media tour. It isn’t successful.

Snow decides that the 75th Hunger Games will see previous winners taking place. Katniss and Peeta are once again to take part in a Hunger Games. Katniss decides that Peeta will win, and she will do everything she can to ensure that happens. She does not know that Peeta has made a similar pact, but with far more people.

At the games, Katniss aligns herself with several different people, who all have vowed to ensure that she wins. As the contestants begin to fall, it becomes clear that more than a few people want Katniss to survive. But why? Because she represents a defiance of authority and a hope that her winning will allow the Districts to rise up and overthrow the Capitol.

This time, though, there is no co-winner. In fact, there is no winner at all. After only a few contestants remain, Katniss attaches an electrified wire to an arrow and fires it at the force field surrounding the battlefield, causing a power failure. An aircraft takes her and a few of the other combatants to safety. It is here where she learns that Haymitch, Beetee, Finnick, Plutarch, and Peeta planned for this and are now preparing a full-scale rebellion against the Capitol and Snow. They are heading to District 13, which was supposedly bombed, but has instead moved underground. Her family is already there, and Gale is also safe. Peeta, however, was captured by the Capitol. District 12 has been destroyed by the Capitol as a result of the defiance during this year’s Hunger Games.

Is It Any Good?

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the best of the films thus far, proving itself to be a refined version of its predecessor. Its stakes are higher, it has more drama, and it hits its themes harder. Its action was shot more competently and the action itself is more enjoyable. It does feel like a “middle film,” in that it’s mostly just setting up for bigger and better things later, but since the ride is so fun, that hardly matters.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1


Directed by Francis Lawrence. Produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik. Written by Danny Strong and Peter Craig. Release date: November 21, 2014.


It was decided at some point in time that the final book in the Hunger Games franchise, Mockingjay, would be split into two movies. The decision is primarily a monetary one, after seeing the amount of money similar splits have made studios in the past. The result is a story we need to pay twice to see in full, and a first half that meanders its way to get us to the payoff, also known as the second film. Mockingjay – Part 1 is a disappointment, but has the chance to be made retroactively better after Part 2 is released.

The Characters

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence): The film’s protagonist. She volunteered for the 74th Hunger Games and was a co-winner. She showed direct defiance of the Capitol during the 75th Hunger Games and is now acting as a symbol of resistance against the Capitol and President Snow.

Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson): The co-winner of the 74th Hunger Games, and possible love interest of Katniss Everdeen. He was part of a plan to defy the Capitol during the 75th Hunger Games but didn’t escape afterward. He has been captured.

Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth): Katniss Everdeen’s best friend and possible love interest. Helped plan the act of defiance that was the 75th Hunger Games.

Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson): An alcoholic who mentored Katniss and Peeta in the 74th and 75th Hunger Games. One of the key figures in plotting the rebellion against the Capitol.

President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland): The ruler of Panem and the Capitol. The series’ antagonist. Hates Katniss and the other rebels.

Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman): The Gamemaker of the 75th Hunger Games. Revealed to be a rebel and part of the group planning to overthrow the Capitol.

Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks): The Capitol-assigned chaperone of the District 12 tributes. Joins the rebellion.

Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci): The Master of Ceremonies and commentator for the Hunger Games.

Primrose “Prim” Everdeen (Willow Shields): Katniss’ sister. Initially chosen as District 12’s tribute for the Hunger Games, but her sister took her place.

President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore): The leader of District 13. Part of the rebel group looking to take down the Capitol.

Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin): A contestant in the 75th Hunger Games. A rebel fighting against the Capitol.

Johanna Mason (Jena Malone): A contestant in the 75th Hunger Games. A rebel fighting against the Capitol.

Beetee Latier (Jeffrey Wright): A contestant in the 75th Hunger Games. A rebel fighting against the Capitol.

The Plot

After the conclusion of the 75th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen finds herself being taken to District 13, a place formerly bombed and about which the Capitol did not know. President Alma Coin, its leader, tells Katniss that she is the symbol of the revolution – the Mockingjay. Katniss refuses, as Peeta was left behind, but eventually she agrees after seeing the now-bombed District 13, as well as viewing the way that the Capitol has brainwashed Peeta. Her condition is that Peeta and anyone else who was captured be rescued and pardoned as soon as possible.

Katniss and co. begin visiting Districts and filming Katniss giving speeches that are meant to inspire other Districts. It begins working, as Districts begin to fight back against the Capitol. The Capitol bombs District 13, but everyone survives after getting into underground shelters. After the weakening of a dam, which cuts out the Capitol’s primary source of power, a rescue attempt is made. Peeta and a few other previous Hunger Games winners are rescued. However, upon seeing Peeta, Katniss is strangled. He’s been brainwashed into hating her.

The plan, now, is to launch a full-scale attack on the Capitol.

Is It Any Good?

If you’ve read the previous pages, you’ll note how significantly shorter the plot summary of Mockingjay – Part 1 is compared to both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. The reality is that most of it happens to set up bigger events in the series finale. It is also true that there was no reason to split the final book into two films, except to charge double the admission price for audiences. Despite being the weakest Hunger Games film thus far, it’s still not bad. It’s decidedly okay, not being boring enough to be worthless, but not entertaining enough to be must-see material. Not enough happens, and it all feels like filler as we wait for the important events of the next film. In combination with Part 2, it might wind up retroactively being great. But as we sit now, it’s not great; it’s simply okay.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (Preview)


Directed by Francis Lawrence. Produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik. Written by Danny Strong and Peter Craig. Release date: November 20, 2015.


Despite being an unnecessary split, the filmmakers behind The Hunger Games decided to split the final book into two films. While Part 1 wasn’t all that good, it did create more than enough hype for Part 2, if only because we need to see the conclusion to the story. Besides, there’s precedent for Part 2s to be the best films in franchises. It happened with both Harry Potter and Twilight, after all. As such, it’s easy to get excited for Mockingjay – Part 2.

The Characters

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence): The film’s protagonist. She volunteered for the 74th Hunger Games and was a co-winner. She showed direct defiance of the Capitol during the 75th Hunger Games, and is now acting as a symbol for resistance against the Capitol and President Snow.

Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson): The co-winner of the 74th Hunger Games. He was part of a plan to defy the Capitol during the 75th Hunger Games but didn’t escape afterward. He was captured by the Capitol and brainwashed into hating Katniss.

Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth): Katniss Everdeen’s best friend and possible love interest. Helped plan the act of defiance that was the 75th Hunger Games.

Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson): An alcoholic who mentored Katniss and Peeta in the 74th and 75th Hunger Games. One of the key figures in plotting the rebellion against the Capitol.

President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland): The ruler of Panem and the Capitol. The series’ antagonist. Hates Katniss and the other rebels.

Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman): The Gamemaker of the 75th Hunger Games. Revealed to be a rebel and part of the group planning to overthrow the capitol.

Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks): The Capitol-assigned chaperone of the District 12 tributes. Joins the rebellion.

Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci): The Master of Ceremonies and commentator for the Hunger Games.

Primrose “Prim” Everdeen (Willow Shields): Katniss’ sister. Initially chosen as District 12’s tribute for the Hunger Games, but her sister took her place.

President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore): The leader of District 13. Part of the rebel group looking to take down the Capitol.

Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin): A contestant in the 75th Hunger Games. A rebel fighting against the Capitol.

Johanna Mason (Jena Malone): A contestant in the 75th Hunger Games. A rebel fighting against the Capitol.

Beetee Latier (Jeffrey Wright): A contestant in the 75th Hunger Games. A rebel fighting against the Capitol.

Why Should You Care?

This is the film we’ve been waiting for forever since The Hunger Games films started. It’s the conclusion of a franchise, one that’s been pretty good. It promises the best action, strong dramatic moments, hammering home of relevant themes, and finally the end to a story of which we only got half in the last film, even though we paid full theatrical prices.

As I mentioned earlier, there’s a precedent already set for these Part 2s to be the best films in the franchise. Harry Potter finally got great with The Deathly Hallows – Part 2, and Twilight has 20 minutes of some of the best action you’ll ever see in Breaking Dawn – Part 2. And with the earlier Hunger Games films already of consistently higher quality than those two, that only bodes well for its conclusion.

For film nerds, Mockingjay – Part 2 will be almost essential viewing simply because it marks the final film role of Philip Seymour Hoffman, a great actor we lost too soon. It has a very strong cast outside of Hoffman, of course – apart from Liam Hemsworth, who is just dreadful – but Hoffman will draw in some who were never interested in the series simply because it is his last role. It’ll be interesting to see just how the filmmakers managed to make that work, since Hoffman was reportedly not finished filming his role before he passed away.

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If you want more of Matthew “Marter” Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.

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