Did you miss the first 2.5 Hunger Games because you weren't into movies about kids murdering each other? Here are literally all the facts you need to know to seem like an aloof expert without losing six hours of your life.
Film No. 1—The Hunger Games
In the future, the world is just 13 states of poor people and "The Capitol," where everyone dresses like Lady Gaga's dancers. Each district produces one thing—District 4 catches fish, District 7 makes lumber, and District 9 presumably makes aliens. Our hero is the always-on-the-verge-of-tears Katniss Everdeen (played tearfully by Jennifer Lawrence). She lives in the coal-mining district. Yes, they're still mining coal even though the government has motherfucking hovercraft.
Some genius decided the way to keep the districts in line is to make children fight to the death on TV. If you're thinking, "Wouldn't that cause a rebellion?" Yes!
Tearfully, Katniss wins the battle royale in which 22 children are murdered by shooting a bow and pretending to be in love with a baker's son who uses the camouflage talents he acquired while frosting cakes to frost his face. Then, they pretend to be in love, and the people running this death battle look down from their steam-powered hovercraft and say, "Fine, you can survive. This is good TV."
It's a pretty enjoyable ride, as far as movies about kids murdering each other go. Woody Harrelson plays a funny drunk guy, and there are werewolves.
Film No. 2—Catching Fire
Remember that rebellion that everybody but the government saw coming? Watching Katniss win the battle got the peasants riled up, and they're ready to go full-on civil war. Remember: It wasn't their kids being murdered, racial segregation, constant poverty or being forced to mine coal for no fucking reason (THE GOVERNMENT HAS A HOVERCRAFT AND WEREWOLVES). It was watching Katniss kiss a boy who thinks his face is a cake.
Since this government hasn't met a problem it couldn't solve by making kids murder each other on TV, they send Katniss back into the arena. Philip Seymour Hoffman is in this one, and he's amazing.
Film No. 3—Mockingjay, Part 1
Since the series was slated to wind up in the mid-2010s, the last movie got split into two—for arti$tic rea$on$.
It's straight-up war time, but while the exciting stuff is happening offscreen, the leaders decide this is a war of propaganda and make Katniss just pretend to fight on TV. Meanwhile, the baddies kidnap Cakeface and force him to make commercials for the other team. While we're watching this dumb battle of campaign ads, there's a goddamn war going on with tanks and guns, and we see none of it. Finally, this war is really getting going and…
The movie stops in the middle of a scene so they can get another $12 from you.
Film No. 4—Mockingjay, The Rest of It
It opens this weekend. Talk about anticipating this stuff so you look informed:
(1) The war. Finally, we see the battles that have ostensibly been going on in the last two movies. We keep pretending that bow-and-arrow skills can beat lasers and hovercrafts.
(2) The army of lizard people. Remember that government that's losing to a crying girl who makes TV commercials? Turns out they created an army of lizard people, and they're still losing.
(3) Philip Seymour Hoffman. The actor died a couple of weeks before this half-movie was finished. The studio insists it didn't need Furious 7-style trickery to put him in other scenes, but the hole he left in this movie (and the world) will probably be noticeable. RIP.
SEE IT: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 is rated PG-13. It opens Friday at most Portland-area theaters.