"Hunger Games: Catching Fire" Need to Know

By Colin Bertram
|  Thursday, Nov 21, 2013  |  Updated 10:53 AM CDT
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"The Hunger Games" sequel, "Catching Fire" opens in theaters around the world tonight. Mark Barger reports on anticipation surrounding the film's arrival.

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If you're planning on catching the latest "Hunger Games" installment as it roars into theaters on Friday, Nov. 22 and haven't watched the first chapter yet, we've got you covered.

Katniss fever is sweeping the globe and cinemas are set to be packed as Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks and Lenny Kravitz reprise their roles in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," the second chapter (there are two more films to come) in the movie franchise based on the bestselling books by Suzanne Collins.

For those few who have yet to witness the victory of Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Hutcherson) in "The Hunger Games," read on to discover what you need to know in advance of "Catching Fire."

Round one reveals two winners:

Set in the nation of Panem, which is divided into 12 distinct states or districts, "The Hunger Games" introduced us to a future-Earth devastated by an unknown apocalyptic event. The Capital rules over all the districts and in an effort to keep them in line, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected by lottery from each district to compete in the Hunger Games, an annual event in which the participants or "tributes" must fight to the death in an outdoor arena where the weather and obstacles are controlled by the Capital.

The Games were divised as punishment following an uprising in District 13 that resulted in the offending state being descimated, and the remaining districts having to offer up tributes as ongoing punishment.

Our heroine Katniss volunteers to compete in place of her younger sister as one of the representatives of District 12. The other tribute from 12 is Peeta, Katniss's former schoolmate who has long carried a torch for our feisty protagonist.

Katniss and Peeta are then plunged into the heady world of the Capital where they are prepared, along with the other tributes, for battle in the arena.

Once the games begin the pair become audience favorites (the competition is televised nationally) due to their crafted image as star-crossed lovers. In order to curry favor with viewers, President Snow (Sutherland) decrees that this Games, a couple from the same district will be allowed to win in place of the regular solo victor. But when Katniss and Peeta finally become the last two tributes standing, Snow reverses his decision and demands that Katniss kill the weakened Peeta.

To avoid that fate our heroes plan to commit a double suicide which sends the Gamekeepers and Snow into a frenzy over the possibility of having no winner and new martyrs who may inspire a future rebellion. To prevent such an occurrence Katniss and Peeta are proclaimed joint victors.

To the victors come the toils:

As "Catching Fire" begins we find Katniss and Peeta safely returned to District 12 where they are hailed as heroes. But their return is short-lived when they must embark on a victory tour of the other districts to celebrate and publicize their win.

As the winners traverse the nation they discover rebellion is brewing following their stand against the Capital and their refusal to accept Snow's ever-changing rules in the Games. Across the districts the symbol of the Mockingjay - a bird whose likeness is featured on a pin Katniss wore throughout the Games - has begun appearing as graffiti on walls and represents the local residents dissent toward the Capital and the President.

President Snow plans revenge:

In order to maintain control across the increasingly dissatisfied districts, President Snow devises a plan to punish Katniss for her flaunting of the rules and silence the uprising once and for all. He announces that the upcoming 75th Hunger Games will have a twist: rather than taking unknown tributes from each District, the competitors will be reaped from the existing pool of winners from Games past.

Katniss and Peeta must head back to the arena and fight for their lives against Tributes far stronger and challenges far darker than any they have encountered previously. The fate of the ever-growing rebellion is in their hands.

Will Katniss choose Peeta or Gale?

In the first installment we learned that Katniss held feelings for Gale, her best friend from District 12 and newly energized agitator for the rebellion. Gale has long carried romantic feelings for Katniss. The Capital believes Katniss loves Peeta following their first foray into the arena and the relationship they embellished to win favor from those viewing across the nation. Only Peeta really does love Katniss. And Katniss, well, she isn't sure where her feelings lie as "Catching Fire" begins.

Old and new faces converge in the Capital:

Along with the returning characters from "Hunger Games," "Catching Fire" delivers a new and mysterious head gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), crazy handsome District 4 victor Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) and the uber-fierce District 7 Tribute Johanna Mason (Jena Malone).

And it wouldn't be a "Hunger Games" movie without Katniss and Peeta's alcoholic mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and everyone's favorite blue-haired Games commentator Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci).

To paraphrase the ever-fashionable Effie Trinket (Banks): May the odds (of getting "Catching Fire" tickets on opening weekend) be ever in your favor.

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" opens November 22.

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