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LIONSGATE

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Gary Ross
Cast:
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Writing Credits:
Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray

Synopsis:
Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games, a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death.

Box Office:
Budget
$78 million.
Opening Weekend
$152,535,747 on 4137 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$408,010,692.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Dolby 2.0
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 142 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 8/18/2012

Bonus:
• “The World Is Watching” Documentary
• 6 Featurettes
• Marketing Gallery
• Previews


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-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
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-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


RELATED REVIEWS


The Hunger Games [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 28, 2020)

Prior to 2012, Jennifer Lawrence stood as an actor on the rise. She’d already earned an Oscar nomination for 2010’s indie Winter’s Bone, and 2011’s X-Men: First Class brought her a strong supporting role in a big action blockbuster.

2012’s The Hunger Games took Lawrence to the next level, as here she got the lead in a major movie. With a relatively modest $78 million budget, the flick grossed nearly $700 million worldwide and established Lawrence as a top-line star.

Based on Suzanne Collins’ novel, Games takes us to Panem, a nation in North America. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, Panem exists of a Capitol and 12 districts.

Every year, two young people from each district get selected by lottery to participate in the “Hunger Games”, a brutal contest. These require players to fight to the death, with only one survivor allowed.

In District 12, young Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields) gets selected, but her teenaged sister Katniss (Lawrence) volunteers to take her place. This sends Katniss on a life or death journey as she fights through the Hunger Games.

Along with the Twilight flicks, the Hunger Games series acted as the cinematic pinnacle of the “Young Adult” (YA) genre, though it seems incorrect to formally call this a “genre”. YA just means works intended for an audience in the 12-18 range, and these tales can encompass all sorts of topics and themes.

In terms of movies, those, the most visible YA focused on fantasy and action like Twilight and Games, with the latter probably the more influential of the two. In the aftermath of this film’s success, we saw plenty of similar dystopian flicks, all of which reached varying levels of success.

But none approached the profits of Games and its three sequels. Was this because the Games series started first or because its films simply worked better?

Probably both, I’d surmise. It didn’t hurt that Games reached screens before similar flicks like Divergent and Maze Runner, but it also offered a higher quality affair.

Somewhat, at least, as I can’t claim Games turns into a classic. When I saw Games theatrically in 2012, I found it moderately engaging, but I can’t claim it did a lot for me.

Some of that may have stemmed from hype. By the time I watched Game, it’d already become a surprise smash, so I likely went into it with semi-high expectations.

Seeing it a second time eight years later, I do so without that same sense of anticipation, but the movie doesn’t develop into anything more memorable. In 2020 as I felt in 2012, Game brings a decent action experience but not one that truly impresses.

Lawrence’s presence helps, as she creates a credible action hero. She adds depth to Katniss one wouldn’t expect from a source like this and helps ground the flick.

A nice supporting cast supports her, mainly via the adults on board. We find a slew of talents like Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland and others, all of whom add a layer of class to the proceedings.

At 142 minutes, Games feels like it should run long, but it actually moves at a fairly good pace. Though the titular competition doesn’t launch until the film’s midway point, it fills that opening hour-plus with good character information and enough intrigue to maintain our attention.

Matters amplify once the battle commences, and the movie manages to great a fairly positive view of these affairs. Some of this may lack the desired drama – mainly because we know Katniss will survive – but we find enough uncertainty to carry the day.

With all those positives, why do I still see Games as a decent but not great movie? Because it never really engages the audience as well as it should.

Sure, I think it moves well enough and gives us some compelling action, but these elements never quite rise above the level of “pretty good”. Games simply lacks a certain spark and rive that might make it a great adventure.

Director Gary Ross’s affection for handheld photography doesn’t help. Good Lord, does Games come packed with tons of shakycam!

While not Cloverfield literally-make-me-nauseated levels, the jerky visuals become a distraction. These choices don’t add urgency to the film, as instead, they simply render the action semi-incomprehensible at times.

The movie’s ham-fisted social message gets a little much at times, too. Though not as eye-rolling as the commentary for Ross’s Pleasantville, these elements can seem awfully on the nose.

All of this leaves Hunger Games as a moderately engaging effort. While I don’t see it as a really memorable action flick, at the very least it becomes a mostly involving tale.


The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus B+

The Hunger Games appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. For the most part, this became a satisfactory presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed appealing. Occasional wide shots felt a smidgen soft, but those failed to pop up with any frequency, so the majority of the flick brought solid accuracy.

I saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and the movie lacked edge haloes. No print flaws appeared either.

Most of the movie opted for a semi-dingy teal sensibility to lack the grim circumstances, but the scenes in the Capitol conveyed brighter tones. All felt accurately represented in terms of the desired production choices.

Blacks usually worked fine, though they could crush a little on occasion. Shadows seemed well-rendered and smooth. All in all, the image seemed very good.

Even better, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack excelled. With plenty of action on display, the soundscape earned many chances to shine.

It filled out the various channels in an active, involving manner that placed the viewer within the spectrum. Different components showed up in appropriate spots and moved/meshed well to form a solid sense of place.

In addition, audio quality excelled. Speech remained distinctive and natural, while music showed good range and clarity.

Effects fared best, as they seemed accurate and dynamic. The soundtrack fit the film and added to the experience.

Disc One opens with ads for Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Otherwise, we get all the set’s extras on Disc Two, and these start with a documentary called The World Is Watching. It runs two hours, two minutes and includes comments from writer/director Gary Ross, Lionsgate President of Production Alli Shearmur, producers John Kilik and Nina Jacobson, publisher David Levithan, writer Billy Ray, casting director Debra Zane, costume designer Judianna Makovsky, makeup designer Ve Neill, VFX supervisor Sheena Duggal, production designer Philip Messina, stunt coordinator Chad Stahelski, executive producer Robin Bissell, additional VFX supervisor Scott Farrar, editor Stephen Mirrione, sound designer Lon Bender, reviewer Drew McWeeny, and actors Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Isabelle Fuhrmann, Alexander Ludwig, Dayo Okeniyi, Wes Bentley, Leven Rambin, Jack Quaid, Jacqueline Emerson, Willow Shields, and Amandla Stenberg.

“World” covers the source novel and its adaptation, story/characters, photography and storyboards, cast and performances, makeup and costumes, concept design and effects, set design, stunts, weapons and action, locations, editing, music and sound, and the movie’s release.

With more than two hours at its disposal, “World” offers plenty of room for information related to the film. More of this leans toward happy talk than I might prefer, but “World” still presents more than enough useful material to work well.

Six featurettes follow. We find “Game Maker” (14:05), “Letters from the Rose Garden” (9:08), “Controlling the Games” (5:50), “A Conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell” (14:31), “Preparing for the Games” (3:00) and “Propaganda Film” (1:34).

Across these, we hear from Ross, Levithan, McWeeny, Banks, Emerson, Sutherland, Shearmur, Jacobson, Duggal, Messina, Bentley, Mirrione, critics Amanda Belcher, Megan Scott and Pauline Hughes, English teachers Sarah Wolf and Joe Koetters, school administrator Barbara Wagner, high school student Samantha Newby, and co-producer Bryan Unkeless.

In the featurettes, we get info about the source novels and their path to the screen, Sutherland’s reaction to the project, the Games Center design/creation, and Ross’s approach to the material and general thoughts. “Propaganda Film” also shows a President Snow-narrated piece to convince Panem citizens of the need for the Hunger Games.

After the broader strokes of “World”, the six featurettes focus more on more specific domains. They do so reasonably well, though some – especially “Maker” – can feel fluffy.

Within the “Marketing Gallery”, we get three trailers. We also locate a Poster Gallery (11 images) and a Photo Gallery (75). Both are decent, though the pictures seem too small and don’t take up enough of the frame.

Back in 2012, The Hunger Games became a massive hit, one that launched Jennifer Lawrence toward super-stardom. I can’t say the movie impresses greatly, but it provides a fairly engaging action-adventure. The Blu-ray brings strong picture and audio as well as a useful roster of bonus materials. I don’t think Games excels, but it becomes a moderately entertaining effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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