Every year the Capitol of Panem hosts the Hunger Games. All Districts are required to send a teenage boy and girl to fight to their death, leaving only one victor. The games take place to remind the 12 Districts of the up-rising which ended in massive blood-shed. In attempt to save her little sister, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to contend in her place. Can she beat the odds to be the last one standing? You'll have to tune in to find out!
In order to sustain balance and redundant resources, each District produces a particular commodity which decreases in value down the line. Even though each District is poorer than the one before it, none of them are as beautiful or wealthy as the Capitol and its occupants. Life in District 12 is about as tough as it gets. It's the poorest District of the twelve controlled by the Capitol. There were thirteen in the beginning, but one was destroyed during the uprising. Clips of its destruction are displayed periodically to remind everyone what can happen if they do not follow the rules. The rules themselves are simple...do whatever the Capitol says, or else.
District 12 consists mainly of coal mines. Most of the men work in these mines, and they all live a life of poverty and disgrace compared to the other Districts. After an accident caused the death of several workers which included Katniss' father, her family are amongst the poorest in their community. Since then her mother zoned out, forcing Katniss to find ways to put food on the table. Luckily, she used to go hunting with her father and has become proficient with a bow and arrow.
During the annual Reaping, the names of a teenage boy and girl are drawn to compete in the Hunger Games. Enlistees begin the drawing at age 12, and their chances of being pick increase every year. Since this is Primrose's first year and Katniss' forth, it is not likely she will be picked. Against all odds, however, she is! In a frantic moment, Katniss rises up to volenteer in her little sister's place. This is the first time someone has volunteered to be a Tribute in the Hunger Games from District 12. This is mainly because they never win.
Enough about that, let's see what all this Blu-ray has to offer.
There are a few previews at the beginning of this disc. Once the menu is reached, however, viewers are immediately engulfed with the vibrant menu design and booming soundtrack. The design consists of the Capitol Hall where the Tributes are presented to the potential Hunger Games Sponsors. The perspective is that of the Tributes themselves as they parade down the middle of this massive structure. The options are listed along the bottom of the screen, and include: Play Movie, Set Up, Scenes, and Special Features. The 'Set Up' option allows viewers to choose their audio and subtitle tracks. The Audio tracks include: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Dolby Digital (Optimized for Late Night Viewing), and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. The 'Subtitles' option consists of English and Spanish languages. The 'Scenes' option displays three chapters at a time. The highlighted scene consists of the chapter number, title, and screen shot.
Now let's take a look at the Special Features included on this Blu-ray release.
- Metabeam Smart Remote (0:31) - This brief feature informs viewers about a third-party app they can download that will run along-side the film. This is a neat interactive feature not seen in many films.
- BD Touch - This feature simply explains that viewers should download the app which interacts with the film.
- DTS-HD Master Audio Sound Check - This feature can prove to be an important one, as it assists in making sure the viewer hears the film in its best quality. With the amount of detail and attention given to the use of surround sound; this may be a feature most viewers will want to check out to ensure they have the best set up possible.
- Also from Lionsgate: This feature consists of the previews seen at the beginning of this disc.
- Bookmarks - This feature allows viewers to add/remove bookmarks to refer to later.
This disc has a nature of its own. It's very different from the layout and design of the first disc. The menu design is very subtle and plays a simple relaxing audio track in the background. The Special Features are listed along the bottom of the screen and include:
- The World is Watching: Making The Hunger Games (2:02:00) - This eight-part feature takes a closer look at the post-production, casting, design, location, effects and more included in the film. Make sure to watch the film before viewing this clip, as it spoils the plot within the first 30-seconds! Viewers who are fans of the book should watch this clip, as it explains why several aspects were removed from the story.
- Game Maker: Suzanne Collins & The Hunger Games Phenomenon (14:05) - This clip takes a closer look at the craze that surrounds the book series.
- Letters from the Rose Garden (9:08) - This is a great perspective piece from actor Donald Sutherland who plays President Snow in the film. He does a fantastic job at describing his character, as well as, its strengths and weaknesses in the story.
- Controlling the Games (5:50) - This clip explains the controls implemented by the Game Manager in the film. It consists of what happens behind the scenes for the control room that maintains and manipulates the Hunger Games arena.
- A Conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell (14:31) - This clip is a one on one interview between Gary and Elvis. It basically summarizes the story and the opinions of the Director Gary Ross throughout the making of the film.
- Preparing for the Games: A Director's Process (3:00) - This short clip covers a quick explanation from Director Gary Ross about the decisions made from pre-production to production. There's a great three-window comparison that displays the script, story-board, and actual clip from the film in this extra.
- Propaganda Film (1:34) - This extra is the actual video clip that is played for the 12 Districts on a regular basis. The film displays it in the background numerous times, but having the ability to see it in full-screen clarity is great.
- Marketing Gallery
- Theatrical Trailers
- Poster Gallery
- Photo Gallery
Now let's take a look at the technical side of this Blu-ray.
The 1080p HD video has an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. This means there will be horizontal black bars along the top and bottom of your HD screen. There's no need to worry, however, as the pristine image quality will cause viewers to completely forget that it's not in full screen. The majority of the film looks brilliant with its vivid color, sharpness, and clarity. Surprisingly, there are some scenes which lack these qualities as well. In the very beginning of the film when Katniss is hunting in the woods; there are several shots which loose a great amount of detail and clarity. They appear muddy and are filled with digital artifacts and grain. It's possible this was done on purpose to give the viewer a better understanding of her character, but they are distracting nonetheless. There are some scenes that appear a bit flat as well, but the majority of the film looks fantastic. The close-ups reveal superb detail. There will be some viewers who dislike the excessive amount of shaky, hand-held cam shots, but this was another intention by the Director. I personally am not a fan of excessive shaky hand-held shots, but certainly appreciated the intention by the Director. There were several moments I was in awe by the way Director Gary Ross portrayed the first-person visuals of the characters. I especially enjoyed the ones from Rue's perspective, and will always remember the way he allows the viewer to see the world through their eyes.
As far as surround sound goes, this film is spectacular! For a film that doesn't have a block-buster soundtrack; the audio, dialog, special effects, and background audio do an incredible job at pulling the viewer into the story. Viewers will find themselves engulfed by the sounds of nature in the majority of the outside scenes. Crickets, breaking twigs, birds and much, much more will fill your speakers with crisp, clear sound that will make you feel as if you are standing in the woods with Katniss. The booming bass of the hovercrafts will shake your walls with the right audio set up. The sub will also pulse and increase in intensity during moments of uncertainty and chaos. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master audio will certainly impress audiophiles with its clarity and ominous presence. This is one awesome sounding transfer.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Hunger Games. In reading the books, I noticed several subtle differences, but this is to be expected when adapting a novel to the big screen. The writers and Director did a great job at bridging the two stories so they could tell the same story with wonderful visuals and sound. The actors did a great job at portraying their characters, and Jennifer Lawrence was the perfect choice for Katniss.
This Blu-ray includes a wealth of extras that will entertain fans of the book and/or movie. It was certainly a joy to have the opportunity to review this film. If you are a fan of the film or want to show off your Video/Audio set up; don't hesitate to pick this Blu-ray up. This is one of those stories that just about anyone can relate to and enjoy.