"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" lit up the 2013 MTV Movie Awards on Sunday, as star Liam Hemsworth introduced the exclusive teaser trailer from the November 22 release. And at nearly two-and-a-half minutes, this first look is a cornucopia of dystopian drama — from a District 11 riot to Gale's whipping. Let's take a closer look at the key moments:
A Not-So-Victorious Tour
The trailer opens with the Victory Tour stop in District 11 first teased in our sneak peek: Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are introduced by the mayor and ushered onto the Justice Building stage by mentor Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks). And though we don't hear Katniss' rousing comments to Rue and Thresh's families, we do see the tragic, unintended result, as a man in the crowd throws up Katniss' three-finger salute, singling himself out for a bullet to the head. Haymitch tells Katniss to be a distraction, but she can't help but be a spark.
Behind Enemy Lines
With its first-person perspective, Suzanne Collins' novel offers deep insight into Katniss' motivations, but less so into those of President Snow and his Capitol cronies. Thankfully, just as "Hunger Games" director Gary Ross expanded the view to include Gamemaker Seneca Crane's lair, so too does director Francis Lawrence take us into the belly of the beast: namely, a meeting between Snow and new Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee.
"She's not who they think she is," Snow says of Katniss. "She just wants to save her skin, simple as that. She has become a beacon of hope for them. She has to be eliminated."
"I agree she should die," Heavensbee says. "But in the right way at the right time. Katniss Everdeen is a symbol. You don't have to destroy her, just her image. Show her that she is one of us now. Let them rally behind that. They're going to hate her so much they might just kill her for you."
And with that, Katniss is Enemy #1.
Katniss In The Capitol
Yet, she must play along or suffer the consequences. So she and Peeta put on their finest frocks for a visit to the Capitol for a lavish celebration. "Chins up, smiles on!" chirps Effie.
In "Catching Fire," Katniss' once-timid sister (whom she shielded from the Hunger Games by volunteering in her place) begins an evolution that will come to bear in the story's final chapter, "Mockingjay."
"You saved my life. You gave me a chance," Prim says.
"Yes, to live," Katniss interjects.
"No, to do something," Prim corrects her, hinting at the sacrifice she will soon make to help free Panem.
Word begins to spread that an uprising has begun in District 8 (news Katniss learns in the book from watching the television at the mayor's house), and it seems the Mockingjay is its symbol. Katniss' hometown hunting buddy Gale (Hemsworth) confirms that the districts see her as a symbol of hope.
"People are looking to you, Katniss," he says. "You've given them an opportunity, they just have to be brave enough to take it."
Katniss urges Gale to leave District 12, but book readers know the real damage doesn't happen until after the Quarter Quell.
Katniss spends much of the opening pages of Collins' "Catching Fire" desperately trying to convince the world of her undying love for Peeta — after all, their affection is what prompted the couple to nearly commit suicide during the 74th annual Hunger Games, right?
While she might have most of Panem fooled, President Snow is no believer after Gale lays an unexpected kiss on Katniss — one that is somehow seen by Capitol eyes.
And while this is no "Twilight"-like love triangle, it most certainly sets the stage for a difficult decision for Katniss.
Katniss Takes A Stand
In one of the most memorable (and heart-wrenching) moments from "Catching Fire," Gale is discovered to be trading game illegally and suffers new Peacekeeper Romulus Thread's wrath. Katniss shields him, though, weathering a thrashing of her own. In the book, it is Haymitch and Peeta who ultimately step in to save Katniss, but it looks as though she holds her own in the film version, delivering the line, "Go ahead," with a Clint Eastwood-like flintiness.
The Quarter Quell Is Coming
The trailer's final moments bring us back to the discussion between President Snow and Plutarch Heavensbee — one that inspires the conceit of the upcoming 75th annual Hunger Games.
"Her entire species must be eradicated," Snow says of Katniss.
"Her species, sir?" Heavensbee responds.
"The other victors," Snow explains. "Because of her, they all pose a threat. Because of her, they all think they're invincible."
"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" hits theaters November 22, 2013. The full trailer is viewable at HungerGamesExplorer.com.
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