Super Games: What to Know About the Quarter Quell

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If you've read Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" trilogy, then the odds are ever in your favor when it comes to cocktail party conversations about Katniss, the Mockingjay and the Quarter Quell.
If you haven't, then that was all gibberish... but it doesn't have to be.
As "Catching Fire," the second movie in the series, comes to theaters November 22 we've got all the information you need to dazzle friends with your talk of Effie Trinket and Caesar Flickerman in our "HG 101" -- as well as some insider facts about the movie that'll make even the most hardcore fans feel a little more informed before heading into the arena.
Happy "Hunger Games"!

HG 101: Every year in post-apocalyptic Panem, two tributes, aka children, from each district are selected in a public reaping to compete in the win-or-die Hunger Games. But every 25 years, there's a Quarter Quell, where a dark twist makes the games even more treacherous. As punishment to heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) -- who not only outwitted the Hunger Games, but also ensured her partner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) survived too (unprecedented!) -- the Quarter Quell finds them back in the arena, competing against other past winners.
As if that weren't enough, there's also a love triangle, family drama, a score to settle, several districts to save and an uprising that can't be quieted. With evil monkeys and even more evil victors from previous games to battle, it's a lot for one movie to tackle, but the tributes in "Catching Fire" are more fully-formed characters, and they help set the story apart and keep the conflict interesting.
Expert tip: These games are getting darker and sexier. Yes, the very premise of kids fighting to the death for the public's amusement ensures that there's a dark thread throughout the entire story, but the look and feel of "Fire" is darker as well, with new director Francis Lawrence amping up the action and suspense. And while costume designer Trish Summerville didn't allow tributes to be nearly nude as in the books, she did pull some form-fitting designer duds for them to wear. The fandom is growing up, and the movies are following suit.
The big question: With several big names joining the cast, are there any new standouts? Sam Claflin shines as cocky tribute Finnick Odair, and Jenna Malone makes an equally splashy (and equally clothing-free) entrance as Johanna, who's good with an axe, but takes a bit to warm up to. Both have great moments with Katniss.

The love triangle
HG 101: So there's this girl Katniss and she's a total badass, and she's basically best buds with the male version of her, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), but she gets sent off to the Hunger Games with Peeta, saves his life a million times and now all the viewers want them to be an item. So they sort of are. Besides fighting for basic survival, the Quarter Quell gives them more time together to explore their relationship, for real and for the cameras. The love triangle is what grounds the entire series in reality, and it ain't over until it's over, so don't expect anything to be decided halfway through the series' four-movie run.
Expert take: Peeta might not be such a bad option for Katniss after all! Fans of the books were outraged that -- spoiler alert! -- Katniss ended up with Peeta after so clearly having a stronger connection with Gale. Peeta always seemed like too much of a damsel in distress for our Katniss, but in "Catching Fire," Peeta is stronger and more independent -- and he can swim, so thankfully you won't have to see a near-drowning when they enter the water-filled arena. We wish he'd get a skill a little more exciting than painting his body with mud to be camouflaged, but we'll take any improvement on the character we can get.
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