Blu-ray Review: The Hunger Games Complete 4-Film Collection
Thursday, March 24th, 2016 at 6:00 pm
The Hunger Games Complete 4-Film Collection Blu-ray l DVD
Directors: Gary Ross, Francis Lawrence
Writers: Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray, Gary Ross, Simon Beaufoy, Michael deBruyn, Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Gwendoline Christie, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland
Rated PG-13 | 93 Minutes
Release Date: Digital HD March 8th; Blu-ray and DVD: March 22
Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games film franchise is a four-part adaptation of the trilogy of the same name. Set in a dystopian future that was once North America, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is thrust into the dangerous competition called the Hunger Games, a nationally televised event in which “tributes,” a boy and a girl from each of the 12 districts, battle to the death until only one person survives.
Katniss along with her fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellarck (Josh Hutcherson) come out as victors but also sparking a revolution amongst the impoverished districts. In order to snuff out that spark, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) holds the Third Quarter Quell, in which previous winners of the Hunger Games have to battle amongst each other once more.
Katniss and Peeta being the only winners of District 12 are thrown into the gantlet once more. However, through master manipulation via the head gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), Katniss is pulled out of the games and is deemed the new symbol of the rebellion against the tyranny of President Snow. Assigned a variety of missions, Katniss goes out to become the symbol that everyone sees her be, all the while saving her friends and losing her sister in the process.
The Hunger Games film franchise is perhaps one of Lionsgate’s most successful YA film adaptations, grossing a total of $1.4 billion worldwide. All four featured a strong cast, with Lawrence as the female lead portraying strong female characteristics and being an inspiration to fans and readers alike. Now with The Hunger Games Complete 4-Film Collection finally hitting store shelves, they will be able to experience the films like never before. In addition to the collector’s box having all four films, there are also added bonus features that were never on any of the previously released DVDs. 14 Hours of bonus content which includes deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary, and so much more.
Normally, these Blu-ray reviews are of one film. However, since this is a review of all the films from the franchise packed into one neat collector’s box, we will save you the sake of reading a full review of each of the films, and just briefly talk about what makes the franchise so special.
The series starts with The Hunger Games. Set in a dystopian future, what is presumed to be North America is now Panem, and states are broken down into Districts that surround the Capitol, with each number determining the societal class. These numbers also determine how many names are entered into the bloody televised competition called the Hunger Games, where one girl and one boy are chosen to fight in a battle royale, and the winner from the respective districts gets to reap the rewards of a lavish lifestyle. Our lead protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, takes it upon herself to take her sister’s place in the games. This act of selflessness is used to make the games more interesting, as does the budding romance between Katniss and her tribute partner Peeta Mellarck. Their respective skills in archery and camouflage and a help from a few allies that gets them through the games until there are only a few more tributes, where they decide that they won’t be controlled and that they can defy the Capitol by committing suicide. It is until the Capitol decides that there can be two winners do these two star-crossed lovers survive the ordeal.
Gary Ross helped set the foundation of this franchise with his direction. Though there is some trouble with the shaky cam that can make the experience a bit disorienting. Still, the acting is on point, and the emotions can run high, especially when you see the bond between Katniss and her sister. The training and the game scenes are thoroughly exciting to watch. It may not even matter if you’ve read the source material because just like any good book, you can take your eyes off watching the film. Even if there isn’t any action going on, there are other things to keep you occupied. Some humor to lighten the mood and some romance to make you swoon. Overall, The Hunger Games‘ grittiness and ambitiousness is a fine way to start off this franchise.
In Catching Fire, the stakes are raised when Katniss and Peeta’s defiance sparks small rebellions in the nation of Panem. Their “Victory Tour” across Panem causes riots to break out. Snow announces that the upcoming 75th Hunger Games, the Third Quarter Quell, will feature tributes selected from previous victors, and seeing that District 12 only has one pair of winners, the choices of one boy and one girl tribute are very small. With the threat of rebelling looming over the Capitol, President Snow threatens Katniss’ friends and family, and our heroine is compelled to participate in the games once more. New characters like Beetee Latier (Jeffrey Wright) and Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) are introduced, and ally themselves with Katniss to break out the games, which are more dangerous than ever. Once they break free, with help from the inside from Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Katniss learns that there is a new rebellion that District 12 has been destroyed.
Ross didn’t return for a sequel and was replaced by Francis Lawrence. The film is superior and is improved in some areas that the first one lacked. The action is smoother, and the adaptation of the source material explores the dark themes in greater depth. The problem is that the film runs longer than it should. It feels a bit bloated, with some scenes needing to be cut just by a few short seconds, maybe even a few minutes. Still, the sequel remains a faithful adaptation to the source material, as it should considering that Catching Fire is the strongest in the franchise in both the book form and film. And within that all-out action narrative lies a deeper political subtext. The second part is the final act of the rebellion rising up against the Capitol, with President Snow no longer playing games of survival. But our heroes must make difficult moral decisions and ultimate sacrifices.
Lawrence returns for both Mockingjay Part I and Part II. From here it is a bit of a mixed bag, mostly because the film adaptation has been split into two parts. The first part acting as emotional exposition to the second, which is more action-packed. Again, the political subtext is there, which is fine. And while there may be little to no action in this, the acting is still superb and builds to something much better. At this point, we know that major studios are more likely to split the final book into a two-part film adaptation. So while some may moan and groan over the boring prologue half, others see the excitement in what may come to the final conclusion of the successful film franchise. But the problem with that is that the pacing can be bit off with all that exposition being wasted in one entire film while the second half just hits the ground running and leaving everyone who didn’t watch part I in the dust.
Still, the franchise as a whole is a satisfying one. Fans would be more than happy to have Hunger Games movie marathons at their home, complete with ostentatious outfits and delicious food or the complete opposite of that if their theme is District 12.
So now that the review is over, here are just some of the special features that come with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part II Blu-ray/DVD/ Digital HD:
“¢ Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson
“¢ “Pawns No More: Making The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2″ 8-Part Documentary**
o Walking Through Fire (Concluding the Saga)
o Real or Not Real (Visual Design)
o High-Value Targets (The Acting Ensemble)
o From Head to Toe (Costume, Make-up & Hair)
o Navigating the Minefield (Production in Atlanta, Paris & Berlin)
o Collateral Damage (Stunts, Special Effects & Weapons)
o Tightening the Noose (The Post-Production Process)
o A Different World (Reflections)
“¢ The Hunger Games: A Photographic Journey
“¢ Cinna’s Sketchbook: Secrets of the Mockingjay Armor
“¢ Panem on Display: The Hunger Games: The Exhibition
“¢ Jet to the Set**
*Subject to Change
**Exclusive to Blu-ray/ Digital HD
The special features on The Hunger Games 4-FILM COLLECTION BLU-RAY / DVD SPECIAL FEATURES include:
“¢ Over 14 Hours of Bonus Content Including:
o 12 Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes from The Hunger Games
o 6 Deleted Scenes from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Including 1 Never Before Seen
o 9 Deleted Scenes from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
o 2 All-New Featurettes: “Picturing Panem” and “Capitol Cuisine”
o 70 Additional Featurettes (Blu-ray); 69 Additional Special Featurettes (DVD)
o Audio Commentaries, Music Videos and More