From a POP Struggle perspective the film is right up our alley: 75 years ago in the mythical Panem the government kicked the challenger's butt - vaguely described as an uprising of different districts (the main territorial units of Panem). They did this with plenty of repression including mass killing and atrocities. As a reminder for the citizens to stay in their place or as simply a distraction to get people to overlook the stark repressive as well as economic inequalities that exist, the government created the "Hunger Games". The game itself is simple: the government picks out sacrifices who represent the relevant community (1 from each of the districts), folks compete against one another to survive, supporters drop in little gadgets to assist their favorites, blood is shed and the victor gets to live - all of this is done live on television. Think Gladiator mixed with a little Rollerball (the original with James Caan), Lord of the Flies, the Truman Show and Wag the Dog but not nearly as good.
An interesting theme across the series is that people continue to be repressed (constrained in their political opinions and actions) because they have not yet decided to take arms against the government - a typical collective action problem in political science. If the people could only come together and strike against the repressive government, then things could get better seems to be the point. If there was only some hope, some spark that could get the people excited and this is where the lead character Katniss Everdeen comes in.
Katniss is the plucky, spunky and rebellious archer from district 12 (depicted in the image above). In the first film (The Hunger Games), out of compassion she reluctantly participated in the Hunger Games and the killing of innocents as well as in an act of selfishness and desperation regarding her attempt (along with her game/life partner Peeta) to kill herself rather than take another life she is misunderstood by the masses and believed to be overtly challenging the government. She becomes a rebel by mistake - the accidental rebel, as it were. She was clearly rebellious but there was no political agenda behind it. In part this just reflects how weak and sensitive the authoritarian government is.
In the second film (Catching Fire), Katniss is put on tour with the other victors to talk about how great things are, how the state is taking care of them (as well as indirectly all citizens who also could one day become victors) and what is going on in her fake romance with Peeta (the new darlings of the country caught in the first film). Katniss goes along with this because that is kind of what she does unless she or people she is interacting with are directly threatened. Don't misunderstand me. Katniss is generally nice and there is some general concern with people that comes out from time to time but she is very Aristotelian in her sense of justice - if she cannot see it and feel it on a gut level, then it does not exist and she takes no action. Not the best revolutionary to have but if you realize what motivates her, then you can prompt her accordingly - this is something that both her revolutionary handler (the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and the dictator of Panem (President Snow played by Donald Sutherland) know very well. The mechanistic and simple-minded responsivity of the revolutionary symbol is one of the films many weaknesses.
This is where the third film comes in (Mockingjay which my spellchecker keeps wanting to call Mockingly - too funny). With the misunderstood revolutionary being perceived by the masses, the challengers in district 13 decide to create a face for the revolution: Katniss (of course). So, with this in mind they conspired with previous victors in the second film who have been recalled out of retirement back into the arena in order to get Katniss under their care/control. Katniss resists her new role as revolutionary symbol but after some proper motivation and psychological manipulation by her handlers, she comes around to be the face of the revolution. Toward this end, the district 13 rebels put the old band back together (said like John Belushi in the Blues Brothers) comprised of Woody Harrelson and the crazy-haired, superficial marketing person from the government whose name I don't really need to remember. The rebels also create a logo, promotional video and leather-clad outfit designed by the Lenny Kravitz's now deceased character to motivate the seemingly, easily influenced and hungry (forgive the pun) populace. All the people need to do is see some videos, sense some hope and the revolution is on (oh, this inspiration and a stockpile of weapons that have been stored for 75 years). In this regard, I would agree with Peter Bloom's observation that the film is dangerous - how can individuals be properly socialized to what is involved in change-making when governments are incredibly fragile, the masses are so easily influenced and revolutions/revolutionary leaders are seemingly so easily created. Felt a little like how I felt about a similar topic in V for Vendetta the horrible movie not the great graphic novel.
It's not all bad. There is a spin or two in the flick. The government probably has some informant in the rebel stronghold. They seem to know exactly where it is and they attempt to blow them into the stoneage. This doesn't work though because their intelligence is old - another example of a weak state. The challengers engage in a rescue operation to free some former victors and those deemed close to the victors so that they cannot be blackmailed. They get their people but there is a wrinkle: 1) they seemed to just waltz out of the government stronghold and 2) like a Manchurian candidate, Peeta is now fixed on trying to kill Katniss. They stop him by cracking him upside the head but something was wrong with him. Stay tuned to figure out what.
I for one am not really interested in what happens. I see no way that Katniss and company do not win. I am assuming that like Neo in the Matrix one of Katniss' boyfriends might not make it but fear that the studio will not have the guts to kill off the main character, which actually might save the series in my opinion by finally doing something that is surprising. Indeed, I fear like Star Wars, the Greatest Story Ever Told, the Planet of the Apes series (old as well as new) and almost every other film made in the last 50 years, that the challengers are going to win. This is why there is an extra fist in my ranking for the government.