MOTW: The Biggest Differences Between the Two "The Hunger Games" Movies

Photo Credit: Lionsgate
November 29th, 2013

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MOTW: The Biggest Differences Between the Two "The Hunger Games" Movies

When "The Hunger Games" was unleashed into theaters in 2012, it was an unqualified hit both critically and financially. Plans to start filming the sequel, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," had already started before the film was even released, which was a testament to the producing studio's belief in the franchise. That sequel is about to be released into theaters, and fans of the first film and the Suzanne Collins books are eager to know what to expect from the new film, so here are the biggest differences between the two.

A New Arena

In both films, the action takes place largely outdoors in an arena the Capital has surrounded with a force field to keep wayward contestants from escaping. Winners from the previous twenty-four Hunger Games have been called back to fight again in the Quarter Quell, which requires a whole new arena. This time, it has saltwater lake in it and is filled with traps that President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has ordered Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to set to try and kill Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence). There is a revolution beginning to rise in the Districts, buoyed by the spirit of defiance Katniss showed while competing in the first film. President Snow wants the rebellion quashed, and he figures one way to do it is to kill the woman who so many of the would-be rebels look up to. This ups the stakes considerably for all involved, and makes "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" a much more tense film than the first one.

The Dangers of the Quarter Quell

Since each of the contestants Katniss and Peeta are up against in the Quarter Quell are former winners, they are much more formidable than the opponents she defeated in the first film. Each of these tributes has killed multiple people before, so they won't flinch or get scared like sweet little Rue from the first film. There are no easy kills here, so Katniss will have to work that much harder and be completely aware of her own surroundings at all times, or she could easily end up dead. She forms alliances with a few of the winners in an effort to help each other get through the initial stages of the Quarter Quell, but she doesn't know if she can truly trust anybody other than Peeta.

New Characters

In addition to Plutarch Heavensbee, there are several more new characters who make quite an impact on the film. The biggest one is Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), a tribute who won the Hunger Games ten years earlier at the tender age of fourteen. He is a handsome man who initially doesn't trust Katniss or Peeta when they come to him to try and forge an alliance before the Quarter Quell games begin. Another new character is Johanna Mason (Jena Malone), also a former winner who is as sarcastic as she is cunning and treacherous. She is occasionally heartless, showing a lack of empathy or care for most people around her.

More Politics

"The Hunger Games" established the history of Panem, the dystopian land that Katniss and her friends live in. A lot of time was spent explaining how Panem came to be and why the Hunger Games existed. The action began when the Games started, and the bulk of the rest of the movie was spent zeroing in on the tributes as they tried to kill each other. In "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," a lot of time is spent explaining the politics that go into the Games and how President Snow intends to stay in power. In fact, quite a bit of the film is about power struggles, both obvious and subtle. It's a gigantic chess match, and many pawns will fall before one side or the other wins.

More of the Capital

The Capital was mentioned quite a bit in "The Hunger Games," but viewers didn't really get a sense of what life was like for Capital dwellers compared to people like Katniss, who lived in one of the poorest districts. In this film, fans will get to see much more of the Capital, especially the corruption that keeps it going and keeps the Districts poor. It's a slimy place full of equally slimy characters who would love nothing better than to see Katniss die during the Quarter Quell. It builds upon the world "The Hunger Games" established and shows just how far Katniss has come from her humble beginnings to being the toast of the Capital, as well as its biggest perceived threat.