Media

Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - August, 2012

ARTICLE INDEX

"The Hunger Games" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-august-2012-hunger

Synopsis

In a distant future, the world is divided into 12 Districts, ruled by an all-powerful Capitol.  To keep the citizens in line, each District is required to send one boy and one girl, between 12 and 18 years old, to the annual Hunger Games where they fight to the death until a single survivor remains.  This is played out on live television for everyone to watch.  The winner brings wealth and prosperity to themselves and their district.  In District 12, young Primrose Everdeen is selected to compete but her older sister, Katniss (Lawrence) volunteers to go instead.  Her friend Peeta (Hutcherson), who has a crush on her, is also selected.

They are immediately taken to the Capitol where they are treated like celebrities.  The entire populace seems obsessed with The Hunger Games as the Tributes begin their training.  The competition takes place in a forest, which is the ideal use of Katniss’ skills as a hunter.  By the end, she is forced to make some difficult choices between what’s best for her and what’s best for her family and her District.

Specifications

  • Lionsgate
  • 2012, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hrs 22 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • English 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio
  • Starring:  Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth
  • Directed by Gary Ross
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

Films based on popular books usually have a steep hill to climb since so much has to be left out.  I have not read The Hunger Games but my wife has and she proclaimed this movie to be excellent.  I found it extremely entertaining and superbly crafted and acted.  I look forward to reading the book myself.  The young cast members, without exception, are some of the most talented actors I’ve seen in recent memory.  The production quality is stunning in every respect.  Oh and the adults are pretty good too.  Elizabeth Banks is almost unrecognizable as Effie Trinket with her cartoon-like dress and mannerisms.  Woody Harrelson was superb as the former Games winner turned mentor.  Music fans will quickly spot Lenny Kravitz in fairly visible role as the Tributes fashion consultant.  And Stanley Tucci couldn’t have been better cast as the TV host.  Since the heroes are all teenagers, The Hunger Games obviously plays to that generation.  The plot is very adult though and will appeal to everyone.  It’s a bit too violent for the youngest viewers but families with kids over 13 will enjoy watching this one together.  Highly recommended!

Technical

The image is near-reference quality with superb dimensionality and a deep color palette that tends toward cooler hues.  The only flaw is black levels never quite get as deep as they could.  Night scenes are well-detailed but just a few steps into gray rather than a rich black.  There is no evidence of edge enhancement and the picture is tack-sharp at all times.  Despite the elevated blacks, contrast is still quite good with a real pop during brighter scenes.

Lionsgate chose to include a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix with this Blu-ray, placing it on a very short list of native 7.1 titles.  I enjoyed it very much on my 5.1 system as all the speakers got a workout.  Low-frequency effects were tremendous with several room-shaking moments worthy of a home theater demo.  Dialog was clear and well-anchored to the center channel.  Surround effects created a strong sense of reality as well.  This is one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard to date.

Extras

The package contains a second Blu-ray disc with only bonus features.  Included are a two-hour making-of documentary, interviews with Gary Ross, Donald Sutherland and other production principals, three other behind-the-scenes shorts and three theatrical trailers.