Ahead of the UK release of eagerly-anticipated The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 on 19 November, IBTimesUK recaps the first three films – just in case you don't have time for a movie marathon between now and tomorrow...
In dystopian Panem, somewhere in North America, people are split into 12 different class segregations called districts. They vary in terms of poverty and are ruled over by the wealthy citizens of the Capitol, with President Snow (Donald Sutherland) completely in charge.
As punishment for a past rebellion, and to demonstrate the Capitol's power, Snow orders one teenage boy and girl from each of the districts to be chosen by lottery to participate in the yearly Hunger Games: a televised spectacle where the participants, named Tributes, are forced to fight to the death in a public arena. The lone survivor and their district are rewarded with food, supplies and riches.
The Hunger Games
In District 12, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take part in the games instead of her sister Prim, whose name had been picked at random to take part. She and male Tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are escorted to the Capitol by flamboyant chaperone Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) and mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson),a former District 12 victor. During a series of televised interviews in run-up to their battle, Peeta publicly expresses his love for Katniss, which she initially takes as an attempt to earn them both sponsors, but later learns his love is genuine.
As the games begin, Katniss ignores Haymitch's advice due to her lack of sponsors and heads for supplies in the Cornucopia, the structure where the contestants start, and narrowly avoids being killed. Many Tributes lose their lives within the first day and Katniss concludes that her best option is to stay away from everyone else for as long as possible. She takes to hiding in trees, but Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) triggers a forest fire to drive her back towards the others.
Katniss soon comes across Rue, District 11's young female Tribute, hiding nearby. Rue silently draws her attention to a nest of poisonous tracker jackers – genetically engineered wasps whose stings can cause powerful hallucinations and even death.Thinking fast, Katniss drops it onto the sleeping Tributes who have circled underneath their hiding place, killing one of them. She then devises a plan to destroy the stash of supplies that the rival group have been hoarding. After Katniss succeeds, one kills Rue before Katniss can defend them. The people of District 11 watch and then riot, leading President Snow to warn Crane that these Games are not turning out well.
Haymitch persuades Crane to change the rules to allow two winners if they are from the same district, suggesting that this will quiet the unrest, which encourages Katniss to search for Peeta. Katniss and Peeta eventually think they have won, but Crane cancels the rule change: there can be only one victor. Katniss then convinces Peeta to eat poisonous Nightlock with her. Just before they do, they are hastily named co-winners of the 74th Hunger Games. Haymitch explains to Katniss after their victory that the Capitol now considers her defiant and that her troubles might only just be beginning.
After winning The Hunger Games in the first film, joint victors Katniss and Peeta have to keep up their "romance" for the cameras as they tour around the districts, under the watchful eye of President Snow. As the tour begins, Haymitch warns them that the "show" of their relationship must continue for the rest of their lives. Katniss suggests a public engagement between herself and Peeta, which is carried out and approved by Snow at his mansion in the Capitol. Elsewhere, seeing Katniss as a beacon of hope for finally standing up to the Capitol, people from the lower districts begin to realise that now is the time for an uprising and slowly start to rally their troops.
Meanwhile, understanding the threat that she could pose to him and his precious Capitol, Snow sends Katniss and Peeta into an honorary games to ensure that everyone knows just how powerful he is and that he calls the shots, no matter what. But this time, the young protagonists are up against other past victors so the dangers they face are even more terrifying.
Before the Games, the pair team up with experienced fighter Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), from District 4, in the hopes that they can defeat the other Tributes together. The group escapes to a beach and meets District 3's Wiress and Beetee, and District 7's Johanna Mason (Jena Malone). Wiress discovers the arena is designed like a clock with regular hazards each hour, but is killed soon after in a battle, while Katniss and Johanna kill Cashmere and Gloss, the deadly brother and sister tributes from District 1.
Beetee suggests using one of the hazards, a tree that is struck by lightning every 12 hours, and a coil of wire to electrocute the other remaining tributes, and Katniss and Johanna set out to place the wire around the base. Once alone, Johanna unexpectedly hits Katniss over the head, stunning her, and cuts the tracker from her arm. Katniss returns to the tree and finds an unconscious Beetee with the wire from the tree attached to a makeshift spear. Unable to find Peeta, Katniss almost attacks Finnick, but Finnick reminds her to remember who the real enemy is – meaning Snow.
Katniss attaches the remaining wire to an arrow and shoots it into the arena's force field as the lightning hits, destroying the entire arena and causing the Capitol to lose its surveillance. Katniss, who had been knocked unconscious by the lightning strike, wakes in an aircraft to find Haymitch, Beetee, Finnick and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a former Gameskeeper who reveals he is now a rebel against Snow. He explains that they are headed to District 13, where an army is forming and that half the tributes were aware of the plan to escape with Katniss, their symbol of hope. However, he also tells her that Peeta and Johanna were taken hostage by the Capitol, causing her so much distress she has to be sedated. She later awakens to find childhood friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) by her side, who reassures that her family is safe but that District 12 has been destroyed by the Capitol.
Mockingjay Part 1
Now in District 13 and reunited with her mother and Prim, Katniss becomes somewhat of a reluctant, puppet-like representative of the uprising. While rebellion chief President Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch focus on the imminent battle, Katniss urges them to save Peeta from the Capitol and becomes angry when they seem to dismiss her ideas and label Peeta a traitor.
At the suggestion of Plutarch, she is taken to District 12, which was leveled by a Capitol bombing campaign, and after seeing the devastation and learning that Peeta is being used by Capitol on television to try to quell the rebellion, Katniss forwardly agrees to become Coin's Mockingjay symbol, on the condition that Peeta and Johanna will be rescued and pardoned at the earliest opportunity – and that her sister, Prim, can keep her cat.
As the group try to script Katniss's leadership of the rebellion, Haymitch reminds them that she works best in spontaneous situations and so her propaganda messages must show the same kind of authenticity. She is introduced to her film crew, led by Capitol escapee Cressida (Natalie Dormer), assigned Effie as a stylist and Gale as a bodyguard. They travel to District 8 to visit a hospital, but as the visit concludes, a Capitol bombing squadron arrives and kills everyone inside. Enraged, Katniss gives a motivating speech to the camera, which is broadcast when Beetee hijacks the Capitol's news feed.
As Peeta appears more and more mistreated in each of the Captial's TV segments, the team heads back to District 12, where Gale tells the story of its destruction and Katniss is filmed singing The Hanging Tree – an inspirational song meant to inspire more allies to join the cause. Soon after, District 5 protestors, singing the same anthem, launch an attack against a hydroelectric dam that is the Capitol's primary source of electricity, forcing the Capitol to revert to backup power generators and weakening their ability to broadcast propaganda.
During a televised interview, Peeta, to the horror of his captors, shouts a warning that the Capitol is about to attack District 13, leaving Coin no choice but to evacuate their underground shelters. Following the attack, which harmed no one thanks to Peeta's warning, Katniss goes above ground and is met with several dozen white roses, which she believes means that Snow is about to kill Peeta. Coin dispatches an elite special forces team to rescue him, as a repayment for saving them. The rescue team succeeds, but when Katniss goes to greet Peeta, he unexpectedly attacks and strangles her into unconsciousness, before being knocked out himself by Katniss's security.
As Katniss awakens, she is told that Peeta has been "conditioned" into a Capitol weapon, with him thinking that she is the enemy and that he must kill her for all their terror he has caused her – which explains why Peeta's rescue was relatively simple. Peeta is placed in solitary confinement, while they try to develop a cure for his conditioning. Meanwhile, Coin announces the successful rescue of the Victors, and that their next objective is the Capitol's principal military stronghold in District 2.
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