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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Blu-ray Review

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Blu-ray Review

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4 stars

Safe at home in the totalitarian future is where we resume with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) but – as the uprising is already gaining momentum – safe is exactly what we aren’t in Catching Fire. The Powers that be in Katniss’s world aren’t very happy with her. Grim through and through and surprisingly more violently disturbed than the original film, Catching Fire makes for a brave and better sequel in this (now) four movie series.

According to author Suzanne Collins, the revolution will be televised and some of us will be playing for our very lives. Say what you will about this Running Man-inspired series, but – as far as young adult entertainment goes – this beats the ever-loving pants off of the cinematic world of Twilight and its many incarnations. There’s just no comparison even if the target audience is the same.

As the uprising begins, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) grows increasingly nervous and casts Katniss into the Quarter Quell; a super-charged tournament with former champions who will exterminate one another while battling poisonous gas, raining blood, man-eating monkeys, electrifying force fields and worse. It isn’t a desirous place to be at all.

Featuring fine performances from Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, Josh Hucherson, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, and franchise newcomer Philip Seymour Hoffman (whose death won’t affect the third film), it is here where the source material breaks free from Kinji Fukasaku's controversial Japanese hit Battle Royale and becomes something more than just influence.

Catching Fire is rabid with dystopian themes in which a hero rises among the rubble for today’s youth that won’t go unnoticed. The satire – thanks in part to Tucci’s wicked performance - is there and so is the obligated love triangle, even if it still rings a bit hollow, but, through it all, the sense of desperation prevalent throughout this round makes it all a bit uneasy.

Catching Fire, on the con side of things, is about twenty minutes too long but where to remove those twenty minutes would harden the hearts of the fans who quote the book. It does get a bit repetitive and its director Francis Lawrence doesn’t always take the best approach with the familiar territory. Then there’s that pesky romance. Eh. This series is hindered by it, in my opinion.

The story’s best and most radical moments come from conversations between Snow and his game designer and, with Lawrence as the heroine, there’s simply more at work in her performance. She is, in spirit, exactly what Katniss needs to be for the films to work and, as Catching Fire arrives at its conclusion, we are ready to fight right there alongside her.

Catching Fire is a world of war, not love. That’s the challenge Snow issues as he visits with Katniss at the beginning of the movie. Her response is what matters.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Blu-ray Review

 MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language
Runtime:
146 mins
Director
: Francis Lawrence
Writer:
Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt
Cast:
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Genre
: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Tagline:
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Memorable Movie Quote: "What? He can't hurt me. There's no one left that I love."
Distributor:
Lionsgate
Official Site: http://www.thehungergamesexplorer.com/us/epk/catching-fire/
Release Date:
November 22, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 7, 2014
Synopsis: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a "Victor's Tour" of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 17, 2014
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; English: Dolby Digital 2.0; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; iTunes digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: A

Like the film itself, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire arrives as complex a product as we’d expect. Liongate’s MPEG-4/AVC codec dutifully operates between a 2.40:1 aspect ratio for most of its runtime, and sometimes strays into a 1.78:1 ratio for The Hunger Games scenes. The film’s noticeably darker tone never suffers from the changes, perfectly displaying appropriately-colored icy blue and gray hues while keeping color and contrast consistent throughout. Blacks and shadows lead to sharp detail. The sound explodes with a powerful DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, complimenting the video transfer while establishing itself in several ways. The downmix into our 5.1 setup never suffers , starting with the forward speakers, in which voices dominate the mix of music and sound effects.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • With several long pauses followed by “now, we are watching” moments, the commentary with Producer Nina Jacobson and Director Francis Lawrence is a bit disappointing. While it might reveal a few tricks, this is for die-hards only.

Special Features:

Beginning with a 9-part Making Of, the blu-ray is a fully loaded ordeal that is sure to please fans. 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. 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. 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. Unfortunately, there are very few deleted scenes.

Surviving the Game – Making The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (144 min)

Deleted Scenes (5 min)

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