The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray Review

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray ReviewThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a bigger, bolder and higher stakes version of its predecessor, The Hunger Games. An appropriate analogy would be the attack on the Death Star in A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. Though the latter retreads many ideas from the original, it does this on a much grander scale. Even the Catching Fire Blu-ray release is beefier with the added bonus of an inclusive DVD disc.

Catching Fire deals with the repercussions of Katniss Everdeen nearly eating the poisonous fruit in the first film. It started with President Snow sentencing the gamemaker to death for his inability to properly control the game, and then bled into the 12 Districts where the oppressed citizens began to form a revolution using Katniss as their symbol.

Sensing a potential uprising, President Snow and the new gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), devise an anniversary version of The Hunger Games that will pit the strongest contestants from past games against one another. It’s a brilliant plan that will allow those with the most influence on a revolution to kill each other off.

The narrative danger to this path is that the process of building up to The Hunger Games; the training, parade, talk show bits, preparation and launch into the game, are too familiar grounds. Instead of Peeta (Josh Hutchinson) and Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) being awkward around one another, they are standoffish. Haymitch is still a stubborn drunk with a trick up his sleeve and sage advice, Cinna makes a new showstopper outfit for Katniss, and Effie is as over-the-top as ever.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray Review

When the game gets underway is when the upgrades from the first to second film are most apparent. Rather than spending much of its time in woods, this game takes place in a circular arena with water in the middle. The gamemaker attacks against the players are more elaborate, including angry CGI-generated monkeys, and the stakes seem higher with a twist patiently waiting to reveal itself. Lawrence wonderfully conveys where the next film is headed in the final frame without speaking a single word.

High-Def Presentation

The Hunger Games franchise is a huge deal for Lionsgate so they have ensured that the transfer to Blu-ray is as immaculate as its passionate fans demand. From the deepest blacks in the dead of night to the bright opulence of the Capitol, there are no signs of quality degradation to be found.

Lionsgate has even kept the aspect ratio for the games’ IMAX sequences intact so you will see the switch once the games get underway. Neglecting this would have been a major oversight so it’s good to witness Lionsgate’s willingness to match the theatrical presentation as closely as possible.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray Review

Since The Hunger Games is a Lionsgate property and they are the reigning champ of producing immersive 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mixes for Blu-ray, it’s no surprise that the Catching Fire audio mix and presentation is top notch. Those extra surrounds come into play as the crowd cheers on the contestants, and LFE powers to life every time the cannon sounds off to signal the loss of a contestant. Whether Katniss is talking softly or contestants are screaming for their life as the cornucopia spins violently, everything is audible as it should be.

Beyond the Feature

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray is a combo release with DVD and an UltraViolet Digital Copy included in the slipcover enclosed package. On the surface the supplemental material appears sparse, but one piece alone runs roughly the same length as the film.

  • Feature-length Audio Commentary – Director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson team up to provide their insight on the making of the film. A Jennifer Lawrence commentary would have been more fun, but these filmmakers have quite a bit to talk about themselves.
  • Surviving the Game: Making Catching Fire (2 hours 25 minutes, HD) – A total of nine featurettes comprise a robust making-of documentary that digs into just about everything someone would want to know about bringing Catching Fire to life on the big screen. This is as must-see for fans of the film and book as it comes.
  • Deleted Scenes (5 minutes, HD) – A total of five deleted scenes have been picked up off the cutting room floor. None of them jump out as being worthy to have made the cut.
  • Divergent Sneak Peek (5 minutes, HD) – Lionsgate wants Divergent to become the next big Young Adult franchise so they’re quick to promote it here. I would have rather seen five minutes worth of behind-the-scenes footage from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray Review

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a solid example of how a sequel should strive to improve upon the original in every way, even if it does wander into familiar territory with another game and the buildup to it. The Blu-ray is professionally assembled on all counts and, like the film, also improves upon its predecessor by adding an inclusive DVD. It’s hard to go wrong with Catching Fire, though it’s also time to get the revolution going for a chance of pace.

Shop for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on Blu-ray for a discounted price at (March 7, 2014 release date).

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