The Hunger Games: Catching Fire appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc - usually. The filmmakers shot about 50 minutes of the movie with IMAX cameras, and that used a ratio around 1.43:1. For those scenes, the 4K expanded to 1.78:1 - it’s not the full IMAX image, but it’s closer than 2.40:1.
Sharpness looked very good. A few wide shots appeared a smidgen soft, but the movie usually remained crisp and concise.
Jagged edges and shimmering failed to create problems, and edge enhancement appeared absent. In addition, the print lacked any noticeable defects.
As one might expect of such a dark story, the palette went with a stylized feel. Much of the flick went with a grimy teal tint, though a fair amount of gold/amber emerged as well. I thought the disc replicated the color design well.
Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows demonstrated solid clarity and delineation. I felt impressed by this image.
Similar thoughts greeted the effective DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack. The movie presented an involving soundfield that worked for moments both quiet and loud. The film created a good general sense of place and used a lot of directional dialogue to further spread out the events.
The mix of action sequences provided the best material, though, as they opened up the spectrum to throw us into the events. The package melded together the elements in a smooth, concise manner.
No issues with audio quality emerged. Speech was consistently crisp and distinctive, and music showed good range, as the score seemed rich and full.
Effects demonstrated great clarity and definition, while bass response was always deep and tight. This was a high quality mix that earned an “A-“.
As we shift to extras, we find an audio commentary from director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the source novel and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and performances, music, sets and locations, editing, and related domains.
After a slow start, Lawrence and Jacobson pick up and give us a nice array of notes. They cover the film in a fairly thorough and turn this into an informative chat.
A nine-part documentary called Surviving the Game fills a total of two hours, 24 minutes, 55 seconds. Across these segments, we hear from Jacobson, Lawrence, producer Jon Kilik, publisher David Levithan, production designer Philip Messina, director of photography Jo Willems, set decorator Larry Dias, special effects coordinator Steve Cremin, casting director Debra Zane, makeup designer Ve Neill, costume designer Trish Summerville, hair designer Linda Flowers, dress designer Tex Saverio, key makeup artist Nikoletta Skarlatos, 2nd unit director/stunt coordinator Chad Stahelski, stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave, property master Drew Petrotta, 1st assistant camera Gregor Tavenner, IMAX technician Doug Lavender, editor Alan Edward Bell, sound designer/supervising sound editor Jeremy Peirson, visual effects supervisor Adrian De Wet, visual effects producer Melinka Thompson-Godoy, 2D supervisor Julia Reinhard Nendick, CG supervisor Dan Neal, 2D sequence supervisors Richard Reed and Mike Brazelton, CG sequence supervisors Huw Evans and Fabio Zangla, lead artist May Leung, FX supervisor Viktor Rietveld, CG build supervisor Jordan Kirk, IMAX CEO Greg Foster, IMAX Senior VP of Production Hugh Murray, and actors Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Woody Harrelson, Willow Shields, Paula Malcolmson, Jena Malone, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, Bruno Gunn, Meta Golding, Stephanie Leigh Schlund, Alan Ritchson, and Lynn Cohen.
“Game” examines the involvement of Lawrence as a new director, story/characters/adaptation, set and visual design, photography, locations, stunts, weapons and action, various effects, cast and performances, makeup, hair and costumes, editing and sound design, audio and music, and looking ahead to further efforts in the series.
In other words, “Game” touches on pretty much all the appropriate topics, and it does so in a satisfactory manner. While some segments can feel a little fluffy – and parts feel like a commercial for IMAX – most of the documentary works well, so expect a solid examination of the production.
Five Deleted Scenes take up a total of four minutes, 35 seconds. The first couple offer tiny extensions, while the next two add a bit of exposition and the final one shows a little character info. None of them seem memorable.
The disc opens with an ad for Divergent. We also get a six-minute, 43-second Sneak Peek at Divergent. No trailer for Fire appears here.
A second disc offers a DVD copy of Fire. It includes all the BD’s extras except for the documentary – which becomes a pretty major omission, of course.
As a sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire lacks the originality and plot strength of the first film. However, it refines its predecessor’s qualities to become a livelier and more engaging take on the themes. The Blu-ray brings very good picture and audio as well as a nice set of supplements. Fire acts as a fine continuation of the saga.