In a post-apocalyptic world, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives a bleak life with her sister Primrose (Willow Shields), and her emotionally absent Mother. Mr. Everdeen was killed years before in a coal mine explosion and her Mother has been withdrawn ever since.
74 years before our story begins, there was a rebellion against the Capitol in the 13 districts of Panem. The Captiol quelled this rebellion, and to ensure such an uprising would never happen again, they created “The Hunger Games” as a form of entertainment and punishment. Once a year, two children, one male and one female over the age of 12 and under the age of 18 are “reaped” from each of the Districts, and the 24 contestants are forced to kill each other in a deathly arena, all while on television for the entirety of Panem to watch. Each year the last survivor of the Hunger Games is crowned that year’s Victor, their families and Districts given extra food and supplies. Our heroine, Katniss lives in District 12. Life is hard in the districts. They barely have enough food and supplies to survive. Meanwhile, life in the Capitol is decadent and excessive. They binge eat and then drink a concoction to make themselves throw up and purge what they ate.
Katniss and her best friend, Gale, sneak beyond the borders and hunt deer and other game illegally to sell and help feed their families.
At the Reaping for the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss’ sister, Prim is chosen along with the baker’s son, Peeta Mellark. (Josh Hutherson) Katniss raises her hand and volunteers as tribute in place of her sister.
Katniss and Peeta (which is a type of bread) are sent via train to the Captiol. On the train they meet their mentor, Haymitch, a previous winner from their District. Haymitch (Woody Harelson) is a bitter alcoholic and not much help in the beginning. But as Haymitch gets to know Katniss and Peeta and realizes their potential, a real bond forms.
The stylist for the games, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), also takes a liking to Katniss and creates an amazing costume that catches fire for their introduction.
In a pre-game interview, Peeta claims to have a crush on Katniss, an effective play to garner sponsors and fans through out the games. Or is it a play?
The culmination of the circus that is the Hunger games is the entrance of the participants into the arena where the games begin. The arena is a man made and controlled world where the contestants duke it out to the death. The game makers are able to create obstacles to make the game interesting to the viewers in the districts.
Katniss and Peeta must try to fight their way out of the Arena by playing into the Capitol’s game, accidentally stoking the anger of a people under oppression in their quest to stay alive. The question is, do they make it? Or, if you’re a fangirl, does Katniss choose childhood friend Gale or love-proclaiming Peeta? My daughter (who helped write this summary) strongly suggests that you read the book BEFORE watching the movie to find out!
In a first time exception, to save face, the game makers allow both Peta and Katniss to win the game. They have won the hearts of the people of the Capitol and the Districts and have created a real problem the dictator leader of Panem, President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
The rest of the story continues in Catching Fire.