“The Hunger Games” Blu-ray/Digital Copy Review
Katniss and the Tributes are out on home entertainment and we’re all over it!
By: Lynn Barker
What if you lived in a future, post-war North America where, if you were age 12-18 you might have to fight other kids and teens to the death while greedy, unfeeling rich folks watched it all on TV? It’s time for this madness to stop and strong, independent teen Katniss Everdeen is just the gal to start the rebellion rolling.
For those of you not rabid fans of the “Hunger Games” trio of books, they center on 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen who lives in a future world where the rich sit all cushy in a big capital city while people in “The Districts”, do all the work for them. Katniss, her friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), the guy who secretly loves her, live in poor coal mining District 12. Katniss is great with a bow and arrow because she and Gale secretly hunt outside the district boundary to feed their families.
Each year, two “Tributes” are chosen at the “reaping”, a drawing in each District, to fight in a televised version of the ultimate “Survivor” show.. this one is to the death. Only one kid between 12 and 18 will survive. This is all to keep the workers from rebelling you see. It’s also a punishment for when they did rebel over 70 years ago. Katniss’ young sis Primrose is terrified that she’ll be chosen. When she is, Katniss jumps forward and volunteers to take her place. Along with Peeta, the other unlucky Tribute, she’s off to the capital to train for the games.
Long story short, Katniss, Peeta and their mentor/coach Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and stylist Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) work to make sure the duo is competent, looks great and garners audience support as they enter the games and fight for their lives against both helpless children and sharply-trained professional Tributes from the richer Districts who have prepared for this all their lives. Evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is worried about Katniss’ popularity. God forbid the Games produce a leader of the people!
In case you haven’t read the books or seen the film in theaters, we’ll stop but let’s say there isn’t a dull moment once we hit the Games.
A ton of really good ones! All are on a separate disc from the movie.
You get new trailers for Breaking Dawn Part 2 and Emma Watson’s new film The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
“Game Maker: Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games Phenomenon” – has the book publisher talking about how the idea was sparked from war coverage and reality TV shows. Suzanne wrote the novels using “violence as a critique of violence”. All about how the actors and everyone else loved the books and a bit about turning them into a movie. Interesting.
“The World is Watching: Making The Hunger Games” is the big “making of” featurette containing everything from how Suzanne pared down the book with the Director Gary Ross whose kids were behind him directing. Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) on what was cut out of the book and what makes Katniss tick. We see early storyboards for the movie etc. In “Casting” we learn how hard it was to please all of the rabid book fans. Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) praises Jennifer as “effortlessly amazing”. The director talks about why he chose each actor. Cool tidbits with the actors!
“Design” centers on the sets, the look of the movie, the wild Capital costumes, make-up etc. This is really in-depth and, since this film has a very unique look, this is one of the coolest features. In “Stunts and Action” you see how the filmmakers kept the PG-13 rating but still made the Games brutal. Jennifer trains in archery, Josh beefs up and Jen freaks out while running through real fire!
“Locations” centers on the North Carolina woods that really helped the actors feel like they were fighting for their lives in the forest. An old abandoned mill town was used for District 12. Lots of behind-the-scenes shooting, the cast signs autographs for all the extras used in the “reaping” scene. Josh almost gets bitten by a snake and there was no cellphone service! The young cast felt like they were at summer camp. Very cool to watch.
“Special Effects” shows us the CG matte paintings that filled in the backgrounds in the huge arenas and in the capital and the fire effects on Katniss and Peeta and Katniss’ cool fire dress. We see Jen faking that she is cutting down the tracker jacker nest and being stung when nothing is really there. It’s all created in computer. We learn why the mutts did not have the faces of the dead Tributes as they did in the book. In “Music”, “Editing” and “Sound”, we see the Post Production side of the film and just how the director plans for editing as he shoots the movie. We learn how the forest noises were used and sometimes.. no sound at all is most effective. This section is like a mini-film school and very informative.
“The World Will Be Watching” is a featurette on the premiere and the mall tour that the actors took. You are taken to the posh premiere and the director introduces the film. A real “selling” extra but fun for fans. You see Jen watching a big explosion on set but missing it because she was looking down at her phone!.. very real.
“Letters From the Rose Garden” features Donald Sutherland talking about his role as President Snow. We get an insight into the Games as the actor talks about Katniss being a threat to the President’s power. After watching this we see just how scary Snow is. Loved it.
“Controlling the Games” gets into the design, building and shooting of the high tech control room for the Games. Tons of computer effects, actors working with nothing really there, etc. This is cool but should have been part of the “Special Effects” section.
“A Conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell” is a film critic interviewing the director with talk about adapting the book to film, how Jennifer prepared etc. Okay but there certainly is a LOT with the director in these Extras. You get the idea that he loves the sound of his own voice.
“Preparing the Games: A Director’s Process” – back to film school as Ross shows us his detailed shot by shot list that he uses throughout the movie. Gotta say it’s informative and like a film school class. You also get a cool “Poster Gallery”.
If you are a fan of the books and/or the film, you’ve gotta have this great Blu-Ray for your collection. Fans will enjoy seeing the actors involved a lot in the Special Features and some of the featurettes pack a real “How-To” punch that is like going to mini-film school only more entertaining. If you are Hunger-clueless, you’ll still enjoy watching this fast-moving “survival” film. The transfer to Blu-Ray is crisp and clean even if some of the forest shots are dark.. they were when you saw the film in theaters as well.
This set with Blu-Ray and Digital copies to watch on all your devices, is the way to go. For an all-around excellent home entertainment presentation for fans and newbies alike, we go 5 stars!
The Hunger Games:
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