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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )
92





Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 146 minutes
Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1 & 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Music by: James Newton Howard
Written by: Simon Beaufoy & Michael DeBruyn
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 7, 2014
"Every revolution begins with a spark"


Film Synopsis:

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire begins as, against all odds, Katniss and her fellow tribute Peeta have returned home after surviving The Hunger Games. Winning means they must turn around, leaving their loved ones behind and embark on a “Victory Tour” through the districts. Along the way, Katniss senses a rebellion simmering – one that she and Peeta may have sparked. At the end of the Victory Tour, President Snow announces a deadly 75th Hunger Games that could change Panem forever.


My Take:


The first film based on the The Hunger Games the first in a trilogy of books published by Scholastic which has already become a literary phenomenon with over 36.5 million copies in circulation was very good knocking it out of the park both in the theater and at home. Set in the future, it told the story of how one male and one female from each of the twelve districts of the nation is forced to participate in the annual competition called The Hunger Games, which is broadcast live throughout the country for the entertainment of the Capitol’s wealthy residents. The primary plot revolves around Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, where the countries of North America once existed. The Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, holds hegemony over the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games are purported by the governing body to be a form of tribute in remembrance of the cost of freedom. In reality it is more of a punishment wrapped in a repressive societal sock meant to slap the faces of those that might seek to rise up again.

The Hunger Games: Catching fire picks up where The Hunger Games left off and finds Katniss and Peeta back in District 12 but not out from under the domination of the oppressive Capitol or its leader President Snow who has plans for Katniss. Fearing that the hope she inspired in the lowly masses during last year’s games will lead to future uprisings President Snow along with his newly appointed game master opts for a convenient twist for this year’s games. For the 75th Hunger Games, 24 victors from previous years will be forced to compete once again, marking the third occurrence of the "Quarter Quell": an event that occurs every 25th year of the Games. Facing seasoned adversaries, that all know one another leaves Katniss and Peeta on the outside looking in. There only means of survival upon entering the arena is the hope of untested alliances however all may not be as grim as it seems. There is an underlying sense of hope rising from the ashes of President Snow’s heavy handed rule. The Districts have grown weary of their oppressors and a rebellion is on the horizon. Its reach may just go further than even Katniss can imagine…


As I said after seeing the first film, from a conceptual standpoint “The Hunger Games: catching fire” doesn’t break new ground as we have seen this premise in films before. This isn’t necessarily a problem provided that the narrative supports the formulaic base. Luckily there is excellent foundation to be found in the story’s characters specifically the primary heroine Katniss Everdeen. She is well drawn and the type of character that a series like this can be built around. Coming from the 12th District Katniss has known tough times which have made her weary of trusting people. Self-reliance has kept her sharp and capable of handling herself but her interaction with others even those closest to her, can leave much to be desired. Once she finds herself thrust into the limelight and into situations where charisma can be just as important as dauntlessness Katniss seems to adapt quickly.


I enjoyed “Catching fire”. There is enough depth to the plot to keep it interesting and the story nicely balances elements of drama, action, light romance and sci-fi/adventure. As seen primarily from Katniss’ perspective I continue to find the character driven nature of her personal journey of discovery, humanity, and compassion to be the film’s most defining and ultimately rewarding aspect. The integration of the remaining plot points, its respective characters and what that will ultimately mean going forward is done well. I will say that I found the overall blend of drama/melodrama and character/plot development to be more fulfilling in the first film. However here we get to see a bit more of the elements that begin setting the stage for the segue into what it to come next. The action is decent and the production design is top notch.


Jennifer Lawrence continues to excel in the role of Katniss. Her portrayal is edgy, with a quietly cool demeanor that is accentuated by an understated allure that favors the character. The returning members of the cast, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland are spot on. I liked the additions of Jena Malone (scene stealer!), Sam Claflin, Amanda Plummer, Jeffrey Wright and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman although the latter two had less of an impact than their talents would suggest.

The Hunger Games: catching fire became the #1 movie of 2013 and the 12th highest-grossing film of all time at the domestic box office. The first film with a female lead to top the annual box office since 1973, the film has grossed nearly $420 million at the North American box office and over $850 million worldwide to date. It isn’t a cinematic gem but it’s a well-executed and entertaining film that left me eager to see what lies in store for the installment.





Parental Guide:




AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


Audio: 94

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency effects:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:


  • *Low frequency extension (non-rated element):


Video: 90

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:


The Hunger Games: catching fire comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 21 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.7 Mbps.


Catching fire looks solid on Blu-ray and features rewarding high definition video quality that exhibits discerning levels of detail, and excellent rendering that brings out lifelike textures captured by the camera’s lens. Dimensional perspective can vary a bit especially during special effects shots however when it looks good there is an a near infinite appeal that can be visually stimulating. Close ups are noticeably refined and revealing of the subtlest details within facial features and objects within the frame. The first two acts of the film teeter back and forth between reserved/cooler color schemes and vivid tonality that represent the storylines accompanying themes. Where appropriate, colors are appreciably delineated with natural rendering and punchy primaries that stand out among the remaining spectrum of secondary hues. The third act (set in the jungle arena) has a distinctly richer chromatic flavor the renders the lush earth toned greens and browns with aplomb. Fleshtones are rendered with vivid tonality and discerning complexional description.


Contrast is boldly applied without overstatement as it enlivens colors and empowers whites without washing away detail. Blacks are rich, gradationally strong and dynamic which makes them pop nicely during sequences containing a mix of light and dark elements. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments reveal visible shapes and structure in backgrounds. It should be noted that the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.40:1 opens up to 1.78:1during the IMAX sequences which take place during in arena (right at the start of chapter 11) and last into chapter 16 during the finale (There is no switching back and forth like in The Dark Knight). The video bitrate averages roughly 21 Mbps however it dips into the low teens on occasion. Every now and then I noticed that the image took on a rougher aesthetic although I wouldn’t define it as noisy. At the end of the day it presented quite well and looked just fine on my large screen.


The DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix is equally impressive and sounds superb. This soundtrack runs the gamut between subtle passages of spoken dialogue and soft music to dynamically charged sequences that deliver involving surround sound. Dialogue rendering is terrific as it holds sway over the front soundstage. Detail is first rate which brings out the finely articulated nuance of background elements within the mix. Dynamic range is noteworthy as the active elements within the surround mix resound with superior authority and powerful deep bass transients. Examples of this can be found in the lift off scene during chapter 10, the 10 second count down to start the games in chapter 11, the spinning “clock” in chapter 14, or the falling debris during chapter 16.


James Newton Howard’s music score is carefully integrated into the sound design and is wonderfully detailed, acoustically transparent and three dimensional. Surround use is prevalent and achieves a high level of envelopment that is appreciable. From the gentle sounds of breezy wind through the trees or reverberant distant echoes to the familiar and enveloping effects of raging water, signaling cannon fire or hovering ships, sounds are seamlessly blended to create a stable and detail rich sound field. This is an impressive audio/video presentation that makes for a great home theater experience.


Bonus Features:

  • (HD) *Exclusive Surviving the game: Making Catching Fire (9 part documentary):
    1. A new kind of Hunger: continuing the saga – 11 minutes
    2. Visual vocabulary – 13 minutes
    3. Stirring things up: The cast – 18 minutes
    4. Fashion forward: Costume, make-up, hair – 16 minutes
    5. Let it fly: Production in Atlanta – 15 minutes
    6. Moves and counter moves: stunts and weapons – 20 minutes
    7. Tick tock: Production in Hawaii – 14 minutes
    8. Threading the needle: Post-production – 27 minutes
    9. The revolution lives: Reflections and looking forward – 9 minutes
  • Filmmaker Audio commentary

  • (HD) Deleted scenes – 4 minutes

  • (HD) Sneak Peek: Divergent

  • Bonus DVD

  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy




Final Thoughts:


Based on the best-selling book series from writer Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games: catching fire, is a formulaic well executed multi-genre film that benefits from a rewarding narrative, apt direction and solid casting. It makes its debut on Blu-ray in superb fashion and features top notch audio/video quality along with a gratifying assortment of bonus material that look behind the scenes at the making of the film while providing insights from the cast and crew. As with its predecessor I found The Hunger Games: catching fire to be an enjoyable film experience and look forward to the next installment in the series. If you’re a fan this Blu-ray offering from Lionsgate Home Entertainment is highly recommended. For those that might be on the fence give it a rent (*) prior to purchase.

* It should be noted that the rental version may not have a lossless soundtrack option.










Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:



JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector

(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal )

Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System

Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier

Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)

Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (DVD / Blu-ray Combo + UltraViolet Digital Copy)

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I got my preorder...glad that the home media release will have the imax scenes as i missed seeing it in imax at my local amc in rockaway due to the showing being a late show. Looks like they have fewer extra features on bluray than the last hunger games movie. Still this movie is far superior to the last one in terms of scope and storytelling. Can't wait for Mockingjay parts 1 and 2....
 

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I liked the movie, but hate how:


SPOILER ALERT:

In order to show Katniss as the lead, but as someone very emotionally distrought, they couldn't make her "stronger" so they turned Peeta into a total wimp/woosy. Again, I know that Katniss is the lead, but they could have done better showing her as upset and having emotion without turning her into a complete "loser" and thus, in turn, having to make Peeta even worse.


Both characters can be strong and still have emotion. Katniss can still be the dominant character but instead both are turned into wimpy characters that are hard to believe as being capable of winning anything.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toe  /t/1520622/the-hunger-games-catching-fire-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review#post_24431282


Thanks Ralph! Just curious, but any idea how much of the film opens up to 1.78?

From watching it in IMAX, it was the whole last half of the movie, so from the start of the games to the end. I remember when it opened up it had a BIG impact and gave the arena a huge scale feel.
 

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The IMAX scenes only take place when they are in actual Games themselves. The moment when Katniss goes up the shaft to the arena, the AR slowly shifted to the IMAX AR.
 

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Day one purchase for me. I know this movie is going to be great. What really sucks, though, is the PG-ification of these movies in order to draw a wider audience and, thus, more money. If you've read the books you would know that, if they were to be true to them, the movies would be much more violent/graphic and be rated R. One part of me feels like I don't need to see the "R" stuff anyway, but the other part feels like it's not being true to the book and loses something in the process. Just my 0.02.
 

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Day one purchase for me.


I read the books and liked them, but I felt that the first movie left a little bit to be desired, it seemed to rush through certain details that I thought were crucial to the story.


The second movie I think was done just a little bit better. Overall my wife and I both enjoyed the movie and thought it was well done. The movie executes a lot of critical parts of the book effectively. I believe the movie is also longer so it can convey a little more story. I thought the ending was just about perfect and gets me excited to see what the 3rd movie will be like.
 

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Just a heads up. Looks like they have a different version for every store. I was between the steel book from best buy or the target one with an extra disk and alternative artwork. Ended up pre-ordering from target.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts  /t/1520622/the-hunger-games-catching-fire-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review#post_24429679


I liked the additions of Jena Malone (scene stealer!), ...

Yeah, that girl is one of the most underrated actresses out there. She's been most impressive in every role I've seen her in.


Looking forward to seeing this one when my pre-order is delivered this coming Friday.


Thanks for the review, Ralph!
 

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I guess I'm in a minority but I'll pass on this one. I did not care for the first movie at all because the idea of adults getting pleasure out of goading kids to kill kids left a bad taste in my mouth that I have not yet managed to wash away.


Cal68
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cal68  /t/1520622/the-hunger-games-catching-fire-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review#post_24436938


I guess I'm in a minority but I'll pass on this one. I did not care for the first movie at all because the idea of adults getting pleasure out of goading kids to kill kids left a bad taste in my mouth that I have not yet managed to wash away.


Cal68

It's supposed to be a metaphor. And also, those adults in the capitol are not supposed to be justified in their excitement about kids dying. Some people have compared this to sending off young, poor people to war, or people in asian countries working in sweatshops so that others in 1st world countries can buy cheap goods. The movie in no way glorifies these adults for enjoying the fighting and death of the young kids, but there is a deeper meaning.
 
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