The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray + DVD Review
The second Hunger Games movie “Catching Fire” is out for you to take home on Blu-ray & DVD. Kidzworld reviews the amazing extras and more!
By: Lynn Barker
Katniss Everdeen returned as a victor of the Hunger Games only to become the Capitol’s media darling while her friends in District 12 suffer more than ever. Thrust back into more deadly “Games”, can she survive and, most of all, can she be the revolutionary leader that everyone seems to expect?
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) have returned home after winning the 74th Hunger Games but are off on a "Victor's Tour" just as evil President Snow beefs up security in the 12th District and warns Katniss that her trick to make both she and Peeta winners in the Games has made her an inspiration for a rebellion and he won’t have it.
In District 11, home of Rue, Katniss’ little ally in the games, an old man whistles the special mockingjay tune and throws the 3-fingered salute that has come to mean rebellion. His is killed and Katniss and Peeta are appalled. Peeta proposes to Katniss to draw attention away from a rebellion and it semi-works but, back home Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is horribly punished for not bowing to Snow and the invading soldiers’ will.
Hoping to control a possible rebellion, Snow and gamesmaker Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) force all the victors of years of the Hunger Games to fight each other to the death in the 75th games. After making a special mockingjay dress for Katniss that further riles up the crowd, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) is badly punished.
In the new games arena; a saltwater, beach and jungle setting, Katniss and Peeta grow closer and become allies with Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), Mags, Finnick's 80-year-old mentor, and Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) a feisty, loner victor as well as Beetee and Wiress, an older duo who are weird but very bright. Beetee’s plan to electrocute remaining tributes almost works but Katniss ends up directing lightning toward the force field containing the arena blowing it up but knocking herself out.
When Katniss wakes up, she is being transported to safety joined by Finnick, her mentor Haymitch and a surprise ally. She learns that Peeta and Johanna are prisoners in the Capitol and Gale is there to reveal that District 12 has been bombed and destroyed.
You get a huge amount of extras on this Blu-ray/DVD set. The 9-part “making of “ documentary is only available on the Blu-ray however.
Surviving the Game: Making Catching Fire – a 9-part bonanza that includes an intro with Jennifer, Josh and more talking about turning a loved series of books into films then the challenges of this second movie including shaping the story for film and dealing with a heroine who has post combat stress syndrome.
Actors are active in mini-interviews throughout, joining filmmakers and crew commenting on the production design and overall look, set decoration and working on the many sets. Sam Claflin (Finnick) discusses the training center in a redressed parking garage and Jennifer and Josh chime in on the grandeur of the big Capitiol Party shot at a posh southern mansion, augmented by computer effects. Locations in Hawaii and a freezing mad-made pond outside Atlanta for the arena are featured. Later, each se,t with film of the actors working there, is explored in amazing detail including actor commentary on the both fun and horrible conditions from falls to ear infections. Jokes abound.
A featurette on the cast shows the actors goofing off on set with Jen revealing that she, Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz would often text each other between films. Jen was shocked at how much young Willow Shields had grown up between The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Donald Sutherland (President Snow) talks about Jen’s amazing acting, Liam is glad that there are so many movies in which the actors can develop their characters and Josh shows us his “Baby Jen” Katniss doll that joined him on an interview because Jen couldn’t come. These two kids from Kentucky are seen being goofy pals on set. Cute.
Jena Malone (Johanna Mason) is bubbly talking about being welcomed to the wild bunch and Jennifer echoes her enthusiasm with “Yay, finally a girl” and speaks of working with the now late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman as gamesmaker Heavensbee. We see Hoffman calling Jen "a ball of energy". The Casting Director discusses casting Sam Claflin as Finnick and there are comments by supporting actors playing Brutus and Ennobaria and bro/sis team Cashmere and Gloss. Elizabeth Banks (Effie) discusses her crazy clothes. Very complete and satisfying extra.
The fashions, hair and make-up are explored in a very in-depth extra including make-up diva Ve Neill of TV’s “Face Off” series describing everything we see in detail. Jennifer appears again to discuss the wedding dress that morphs into the mockingjay dress and Elizabeth is back to go into detail on Effie’s wigs, dresses and wild shoes. We see her in fuzzy slippers on set before putting some of those on. Jena talks about Johanna’s look and the many costumes and make-up for the extras is featured. Very fun, complete and colorful extra!
An extra featuring the stunts and weaponry is really fun to check out. We see all the major actors training and practicing both on and off set and learn that Jen’s arrows were still computer-generated for the film although she got to be quite the good shot with real arrows and a new bow. The cast fighting attacking monkeys that weren’t actually there is a hoot. The guys loved Finnick’s trident weapon and yes, that was really the major cast spinning around on the cornucopia at up to 30mph! Sam gets off the spinning set with the comment “Wow, I just got a huge wedgie!”
Post Production is also explored in detail featuring the crew responsible for editing, sound design, special effects, and musical score. This amazing team effort is shown with details on each “job”. Watching each of the crafts come together is like a great film school. Great extra. The actors and filmmakers are then back to close the documentary with their hopes for the upcoming Mockingjay films.
This entire making-of documentary is one of the best and most complete I’ve ever seen!
Deleted Scenes – only a few and most are just very short extensions of scenes in the film. One in which President Show describes how the “spy” jabberjays were used, escaped, mated with the mockingbirds and created mockingjays is really nice. He compares this to Katniss and her capacity to lead a rebellion. Would have been good in the film. Would also be cool if the director could have commented on these scenes.
Audio Commentary with Producer Nina Jacobson and Director Francis Lawrence is a mixed bag. It is informative and does contain some funny on set tidbits and “how’d they do that?” answers but there are long pauses and several “Now we’re watching” comments that state the obvious. Worth a listen for a few funny behind-the scenes reveals.
We gave The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in theaters 5 stars and we go the same on this amazing Blu-ray/DVD set. Unless it is what was available at the craft services tables (food and drink, folks), I don’t know what other aspect of making the film could have been covered. You get plenty of comments by the actors on everything, even the more technical aspects of making the film and we see them on set both shooting and between scenes… a lot.
When the filmmakers and crew are featured, they are super informative and great visuals, including some beautiful concept art, back up everything they say. Every major scene is taken apart in detail. This is another Blu-ray through which you feel like you are going to a very cool film school! Only a few drawbacks; no specific blooper/gag reel (but we do see the actors messing around on set in the various features) and an audio commentary by the actors over the movie would have been cool.
If you are a fan of the Hunger Games books and films or the actors or just love to explore filmmaking in general, you have to add this very complete Blu-ray set to your collection!
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray Rating:
Own The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on Blu-ray + DVD March 7th!