A picture of Primrose Everdeen from the novel The Hunger Games. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The nation of Panem, formed in a post-apocalyptic North America, consists of a wealthy Capitol and 12 poorer surrounding districts. As punishment for an earlier rebellion by the districts towards the Capitol, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected in an annual lottery known as the Reaping. The couples that are chosen must participate in The Hunger Games, an event run and controlled by the Capitol in an arena and must fight to the death. Only one ‘tribute’ may survive.
Katniss Everdeen [(link=nm2225369]) is a 16 year old girl from District 12, the coal-mining region of District 12 (also the poorest district of Panem). This year is the 74th annual Hunger Games and during the Reaping, Katniss’ younger sister, Primrose (Willow Shields) is chosen to become a tribute. Refusing to let her sister be taken and knowing she’d never survive, Katniss volunteers herself instead therefore becoming District 12′s female tribute. The male tribute chosen is a baker’s son named Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) who is later seen giving bread to Katniss to prevent her family from starving. We learn through that Katniss is planning on making a new life for herself and her family ‘outside the fence’ with her friend, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth). She tells him that she never wants children as she’s afraid they would end up in the games.
Katniss and Peeta are taken from their district by the gaudily dressed Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) and are now travelling to the Capitol. During their journey, the couple are fed rich food and treats but are disgusted by how much luxury is given to a simple train whilst they had to starve at home. On the train, they meet their ‘mentor’ and former winner of the Hunger Games, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson). Having won his game by pure luck, he’s turned into a pessimistic drunk. He begins flattering Peeta whilst gradually winding Katniss up thus sensing what both of them are like in terms of personality. He warns them to watch the way the other tributes act and train, especially the ‘Careers’ who have been trained from birth to take part in the Games. When they arrive in a gleaming city by the Rockies, the train is greeted by a cheering crowd. Peeta is shown waving out the window to the resident whilst Katniss refuses to show herself. Haymitch warns her that she needs people to like her in order to get ‘sponsors’ or she may lose and die. They’re taken to the penthouse apartment to stay whilst they train.
Katniss meets their stylist, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) who tells her that as tributes, they need to make an impression on the audience so they’re remembered. Katniss likes Cinna as he is more realistic and down-to-earth than most Capitol residents. Cinna promises to come up with a great costume for the Gala Entry Parade. Each pair of tributes wears a costume reflecting their district’s trade. Katniss and Peeta wear black costumes with artificial fire to symbolise the coal-mining district they reside from. As Cinna said, they make an impression on the audience.
The tributes under-go basic weaponry and combat training including the use of knives, swords and bows. Another tribute named Cato (Alexander Ludwig) is hot-headed, imposing and clearly a threat. Peeta is shown to be bullied by the other older tributes so Katniss suggests he shows his strength by throwing a large weight across the room. Peeta takes her advice, launching the weight across the room and gains a small amount of respect from the other tributes. Later, each tribute must show off to the game makers especially Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley). Katniss is up and decides to show off her shooting skills she’s learnt back at home. Unfortunately, she misses badly with her first shot therefore losing what little attention she had from the game makers. Despite her next shot being perfect, she doesn’t regain the attention. Angered and disgusted by the game makers’ attitude towards the tributes, Katniss fires an arrow straight through an apple in a roasted pig’s mouth, just inside the makers’ room. Katniss sarcastically thanks them for their consideration and leaves. President Snow (Donald Sutherland) warns Crane to keep control of the tributes after hearing of this rebellious incident.
The scores from the training sessions are rated from 0-12 and are shown on TV. Many of the tributes are shown with scores of 9 and 10, including Careers Cato and Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman). Peeta is shown to have an 8 out of 12 and Katniss scores an 11 out of 12, the highest and most impressive of all the tributes.
On the extravagant Hunger Games TV chat show, each tribute is introduced individually and interviewed by flamboyant host, Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci). Katniss manages to scrape by with being a bit of a martyr and a ‘sweet young girl’ whereas Peeta eats the audience up, getting them to laugh. It is then that he announces his crush on Katniss, something which angers her intensely. Backstage, Katniss pins Peeta to the wall, believing his revelation to be a way of gaining sponsors or to make her feel guilty for taking the food from him that was shown in her flashback. Haymitch starts to focus his attention on Katniss as he believes she could win the Games on skills alone and not personality. He warns her to avoid the bloodbath at the beginning and search for water and high ground therefore leaving behind the bow and arrow that she knows she’s good with. Katniss says goodbye to Cinna who tells her if he was allowed to bet, he would bet on her winning. The tributes are all injected with a tracking device in their arms as they travel on a helicopter to the arena. The tributes are lifted into a meadow surrounding the cornucopia of weapons and backpacks. As the horn sounds, the tributes rush for the weapons, brutally beating and killing each other. Katniss grabs a pack and barely escapes Clove, who embeds a spear in her backpack.
Katniss escapes and inside her backpack, she finds a rope, an empty canteen and a coat. She takes Haymitch’s advice and finds water in a nearby stream. She ties herself high up in a tree for the night and attempts to get some sleep. Loud bangs indicate the deaths of tributes and we learn that half of them were killed in the first 8 hours of the Games. While exploring the next day, Katniss gets too close to the outer regions of the arena. The game controllers decide to start a forest fire to lure Katniss further in to the arena. She barely manages to escape but does receives a nasty burn on her thigh, causing her to limp. She is then spotted by Cato and 4 other tributes, including Clove and Glimmer (Leven Rambin) who’ve made their own Career team. We learn that ‘Careers’ are tributes who illegally train to become volunteers for the Hunger Games. Districts 1, 2 and 4 always have them. The group chase Katniss who escapes by climbing up a tree. Cato tries to chase her up the tree but is unsuccessful. This is when we find out Peeta has formed an alliance with the Career team, seemingly betraying Katniss. He suggests the group wait Katniss out as she has to come down eventually for food and water. The group settle for the night underneath the tree whilst Katniss once again ties herself to the tree. She’s woken up later in the night by a parachute sent by Haymitch containing much needed medicine for Katniss’ wounded leg. She applies it and her burn appears to clear up as if nothing had happened. Her attention is then caught by a Rue (Amandla Stenberg) from District 1 – who throws a spear. Katniss retaliates by shooting an arrow and hitting him in the chest, killing him. Thinking they’ve escaped Katniss realises that the spear thrown hit Rue in the chest. Distraught, Katniss tries to calm Rue down and sings a lullaby to send her to sleep peacefully. She gathers flowers from the forest and makes Rue a part of the earth before she’s taken back to her district.
Back in District 11 (Rue’s home), her father (George McPherson) is shown distraught and angered by his daughter’s death and begins a riot against the Hunger Games. His district follows his rebellious rampage, destroying the stage showing the Games. As Katniss makes her peace gesture to the camera, the Peace Keepers of District 11 arrive and proceed to shoot Rue’s father dead.
President Snow is enraged at the rebellion in District 11 and wants to change the Game’s rules and circumstances in order to kill Katniss. Haymitch pleads with Seneca to keep her alive, using the ploy of teen romance as a reason to save her. Using the speaker to the arena, Seneca announces that the rules of the Games have changed; there can be two winners of the Games as long as they belong to the same district.
Katniss sets out in search of Peeta, overhearing the remaining Careers saying they left him for dead by the river. She finds a trail of blood and follows the drops, fearing for Peeta’s death. She arrives at the river, finding Peeta badly wounded but camouflaged by the rocks. Katniss helps him to a cave where neither will be found. She tries to treat Peeta’s wound but realises he has blood poisoning, something that could only be cured with a special medicine. There would be no way Haymitch could send any as it would be way too expensive at this point. As if by magic, an announcement is made over the arena stating that there will be a feast at the cornucopia but instead of food, there will be something each tribute desperately needs. Peeta begs Katniss not to leave him and risk her life to save him but to instead stay with him in the cave. Katniss reluctantly agrees although the two share a brief kiss, a way to gain more audience sponsors. This also hits a nerve with Gale back home who is clearly sporting a crush on Katniss himself. Katniss waits until Peeta has fallen asleep before heading out to retrieve the medicine from the cornucopia. When she gets there, the female tribute Foxface from District 5 has sprinted out and grabbed her supplies; surprising the remaining tributes with her speed. Katniss decides to use the same strategy and sprints out to grab the medicine but is thrown off guard by a knife launched by Clove, Cato’s district partner. The two wrestle and fight before Clove gets the upperhand, holding a knife to Katniss’ throat. She teases her with bloodlust and about her teaming up with Rue, ‘the little monster from District 11′. Just as Clove is about to slit Katniss’ throat, she is lifted by Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi) and thrown against the cornucopia wall. He tells Katniss that she gets this one chance to escape as she helped Rue but after that, everything is fair game. He proceeds to smash Clove to death against the cornucopia wall.
Katniss returns to the cave with the medicine which also doubles as a great wound healer. In a more genuine romantic moment, the two cover their wounds with the cream and fall asleep in each others arms. The next day, the pair split up to find food; Peeta to search for berries and Katniss to hunt. During her hunt, Katniss hears the cannon – the signal for a tribute death. Panicking, Katniss rushes back to the site they split up at. Peeta is stood there, bewildered and holding a handful of berries. Katniss sees the corpse of Foxface, also holding the berries. Katniss, in a mix of anger and relief, slaps Peeta and tells him that the berries are Nightlock and are extremely poisonous. The pair wonder if Cato will fall for the same trap as Foxface did. They begin hiking through the woods but notice the sun is going down at mid-day. Panicked, the couple freeze at the sounds of the night; ready to attack. In the distance, they hear Thresh cry out followed by the cannon, signalling his death. They stop for a second before a giant mutated dog leaps out at them, vicious and the size of a polar bear only with much more speed and agility. Katniss and Peeta sprint through the forest whilst being chased by two more of the mutated dogs. They are chased to the cornucopia where Peeta helps Katniss on top of it, barely making it up himself. They sit back in relief thinking the dogs will kill Cato and they will be crowned the victors.
Cato, however, is also on top of the cornucopia and attacks Katniss, attempting to throw her to the dogs. The three attack and fight each other, trying to stay alive. Cato holds Katniss by the throat on the edge of the structure before Peeta manages to fight him off her. Cato gets the upper hand and gets Peeta in a choke hold to either break his neck, as seen before or throw him straight to the mutant dogs. Katniss has an arrow pointed at him, nervous as whether to shoot or not. Cato, dripping blood from bad wounds, laughs sadistically telling her that he knows what the Games are about now. That they’re all weapons; weapons to make death as painful and unneccesary as possible. He is still choking Peeta, who appears to be trying to tell Katniss something. Cato continues talking, telling her that if she shoots him then her ‘lover boy’ will go down with him. Katniss gets Peeta’s message and shoots Cato in the hand which makes him release Peeta in pain. Peeta then pushes him off the edge to be mauled by the dogs. Katniss and Peeta watch for a few moments as Cato is savagely torn apart by the mutants. Katniss puts him out of his misery by shooting him. The dogs disperse and the cannon goes off one last time. Realising they’ve won the Hunger Games, Peeta and Katniss embrace and wait for a helicopter to come and take the home however nothing comes.
An announcement tells them that the former rules of two victors being allowed has been revoked. It has been reverted back to only one, meaning one would have to kill the other as before. Katniss is seen thinking about shooting Peeta but decides against it. Peeta begs her to kill him as he wants to die for her. Katniss holds out the nightlock berries and pours some into Peeta’s hand too; telling him the Capitol would rather they had two victors than none at all. As they prepare for suicide, the speaker pleads them to stop and they were both the winners.
Back at the Capitol, Haymitch tells them how foolish they are to have shown up the Capitol like that and tells them to play up the lovesick couple at their final interview. They oblige but Haymitch also tells them it will never be enough.
We see Seneca Crane being led into a finely polished room. The door is locked behind him. A goblet is on a pedestal in front of him, containing nightlock. Although we do not see it, we are led to believe that he sacrifices himself.
Peeta and Katniss travel back to District 12 by train. Although they are met with a hero’s welcome, Haymitch warns Katniss that she is now a political enemy after such a public defiance against society’s leaders. They are greeted by a crowd of cheering residents including Primrose, Katniss’ mother and Gale. Peeta realises that Katniss may have been playing up the star-crossed lovers theme for the audience. He takes her hand and holds it up in the air.
President Snow watches the District 12 welcome from the Capitol. Walking away, he wonders what to do about the two victors and the feeling of rebellion they may have created
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