The Hunger Games -- a movie that you will see whether you fully realize this yet or not -- gets unleashed to the world this Friday. Should you volunteer to see The Hunger Games? Or should you just wait until you're forced to watch as Tribute? Here, we answer every question that you could possibly have about our new ruling overlord, The Hunger Games.
Q: Is The Hunger Games movie better than The Hunger Games book?
Q: Before we get into that, what are the Hunger Games?
A: The Hunger Games are a yearly competition in which 24 young adults -- 12 boys and 12 girls, between the ages of 12 and 18 -- fight to the death. The last person left alive wins.
Q: Why is it called the "Hunger Games"?
A: Because the people in each district are very hungry. The district from which the winner of the Games hails receives a bounty of food for its residents.
Q: What determines the amount of participants?
A: Each district selects a representative of each gender to participate, this is called the "reaping." There are 12 districts in the nation of Panem.
Q: What is a Panem?
A: Panem is the kind of lame and boring title (was "Dystopaville" taken?) for a future society built on the remains of what used to be North America. The Games are held as a punishment for an uprising against the Capital -- which is located in the general vicinity of Denver.
Q: Does this uprising have anything to do with the Denver Broncos replacing Tim Tebow with Peyton Manning?
A: It's not specifically mentioned, but probably.
Q: How does The Hunger Games begin?
A: With text explaining pretty much exactly what I just did.
Q: Is that the extent of the exposition?
A: Obviously, since we can't hear the thoughts of our lead character, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), like we do in the book, exposition is sprinkled throughout the early stages of the film. For example, at the reaping, a video is played to the audience explaining the history of the Hunger Games.
Q: Who is Katniss Everdeen?
A: Katniss Everdeen is a young woman who lives in District 12. Her little sister, Prim, is picked at the reaping to represent the district, but Katniss volunteers to take her place -- saving the young Prim from certain death. Also picked from District 12 is a handsome-yet-skittish young man named Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).
Q: Oh, no. Two young, attractive people. Is The Hunger Games anything like Twilight?
A: No. For a few reasons: But primarily, (A) there are no vampires in The Hunger Games (B) the love story angle is present, but it's downplayed as a way to "work the crowd for sponsors" and (C) the lead actress in The Hunger Games has an Oscar nomination.
Q: Do Katniss and Peeta work as a team?
A: The rules of the Hunger Games stipulate that there can only be one winner. Though, the two do train together, taught by a functioning alcoholic named Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), who is a former Games champion. And, as mentioned, they play along with Haymitch's idea of presenting the two competitors as an item, which will help him raise money from sponsors -- which can be used to send useful items to the pair during the games.
Q: Do Katniss and Peeta have any special fighting skills?
A: From hunting, Katniss is very good with a bow and arrow. While Peeta is very strong and is good at using camouflage. Unfortunately, in the other districts, there is more of a sense of pride for these games and a few of the participants have trained his or her whole life for the competition. Also, alliances can form, just like in Survivor -- only instead of being voted out, the participant is murdered.
Q: This movie sounds ridiculous.
A: Life will be much easier for you once you go ahead and accept all of this, because you really don't have much of a choice.
Q: What scene will give you nightmares for the rest of your life?
A: A scene featuring something called a tracker jacker -- a mutated wasp that looks just like a normal wasp, which makes it all the worse for someone like me who is deathly afraid of wasps. (For the record: I'm referring to the bug, not white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.)
Q: What's the best change between the book and the film?
A: The book is told in first person. So once Katniss in the Games, we only know what's happening inside the arena. In the film, we actually get to see Haymitch work the room, trying to raise funds from sponsors. We get to watch head gameskeeper Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) actually make the decision to set the forest on fire in an effort to steer Katniss in a certain direction.
Q: Seneca Crane?
A: Ah, yes, that's a big change. Crane is barely mentioned in the first book, but in the film, his role is quite large. He acts as the right hand man of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) -- who also has a much bigger role, too. Crane is basically the Ed-Harris-from-The Truman Show of the Games -- manipulating the outcome for ratings. But, instead of "cue the sun," it's "cue the deadly fireballs." Together, Snow and Crane are basically the Palpatine and Darth Maul of this movie.
Q: Did you just compare The Hunger Games to The Phantom Menace?
A: I am already drafting an apology letter to Gary Ross and Suzanne Collins.
Q: OK, if I read the book and I'm aware that there's a scene near the end involving an outlandish genetic mutation that I despise, will I be happy how the film handles this compared to the book?
A: If you're not a fan of that ridiculous plot twist, you will be thrilled with how the film handles that. If you are a fan, well, using your imagination, you can still believe what you want.
Q: How can the film version of The Hunger Games be better than the book?
A: The film version is actually fairly faithful to the book. Except that it takes all the flaws of the book -- outlandish genetic mutations, an endless sequence that takes place in a cave -- and fixes them. And, as stated before, it's interesting to watch what's going on outside of the arena once the Games have started.
Q: How violent is The Hunger Games?
A: Not very, all things considered. Look, it's going to be fairly tough to avoid violence considering that the whole premise of this movie is that kids are killing other kids. The bloodiest scene happens immediately when the games begin, and even then, the camera never really shows a direct hit. In other words: We will see a knife being thrown, then the camera will pan to the target of that knife, already impaled.
Q: If I've never read the book, will I enjoy The Hunger Games?
A: Yes. And if you've read the book, you will enjoy. It's a very enjoyable movie. (Though, be warned, it is quite long.)
Q: Will I get confused?
A: If you haven't read the book: probably, but not as much as you might think. During the course of the Games, a delightful fellow with the delightful name of Caesar Flickerman (played by the delightful Stanley Tucci) serves as a play-by-play announcer (the Games are broadcast on national television), explaining the more confusing aspects of what we're watching.
Q: Did you cry during The Hunger Games?
A: What? No. Stop it.
Q: I have heard through the grapevine that you cried.
A: OK, that's an exaggeration. I will admit to tearing up, ever so slightly, while watching a scene involving District 11. I did not cry.
Q: If you're going to be blurbed during this weekend's commercials for The Hunger Games, what quote do you just know for a fact will be used.
A: "I cried during The Hunger Games" Mike Ryan, Moviefone
Mike Ryan is the senior writer for Moviefone. He has written for Wired Magazine, VanityFair.com and GQ.com. He did not cry during The Hunger Games. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter