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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire(2013)
Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.
For more about The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray release, see the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on February 27, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Director: Francis Lawrence
» See full cast & crew
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, February 27, 2014
The natives are increasingly restless as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire gets underway, and that includes heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). In fact, it seems no one is more restless than Katniss. Having outfoxed the government at the close of The Hunger Games, along with her District 12 male "tribute" Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss is now an ostensible "victor", but one who is carrying around a lot of post traumatic stress disorder baggage. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire picks up in the wake of the pair's subterfuge, which sought to portray them as a kind of dystopian Romeo and Juliet. Now the government is trumpeting the supposed love affair between the two as a romance for the ages, a nice distraction for the hoi polloi from the rigors of life in every district outside of the Capital. Katniss is haunted by visions of the people she killed, while Peeta has become increasingly sullen over the realization that his pretend love affair with Katniss is just that—pretend. When President Snow (Donald Sutherland) shows up unexpectedly at the Everdeen family home (hovel might be more like it) one day to smarmily threaten Katniss' family if Katniss does not make the public believe in her romance with Peeta, Katniss sees the writing on the wall and tries to dissolve her burgeoning relationship with her real love, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth). Forced to partake in a tour of all the districts, Katniss and Peeta become increasingly distraught at the prefab, made for television aspect of their appearances, where they're given scripts written by Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) which pay homage to each district's fallen tributes. Katniss is especially taken by signs of an incipient revolution, something President Snow is only too aware of himself and which he is seeking to tamp down at virtually any cost—which may include terminating Katniss with extreme prejudice, since she seems to be the rallying figure for many of the disaffected. From this roiling atmosphere of jilted lovers and political machinations The Hunger Games: Catching Fire builds most of the intrigue which will inform this second outing in the franchise. While it takes writers Simon Beaufoy and Michael de Bruyn close to an hour to set all the chess pieces on the board and then into motion, once the film's central plot point—a 75th anniversary Hunger Games where only previous victors are combatants—things explode in an exciting and suspenseful manner that makes this one of the few cinematic sequels that betters its predecessor.
The press tour arranged for Katniss and Peeta in the wake of their 74th Annual Hunger Games victory comes at great emotional expense, to the point that when the two are finally presented to a glittering crowd at the capitol mansion, in front of a slimily unctuous President Snow, Katniss especially is ready to snap. She's introduced to Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the new Head Gamemaker, who seems as bored and even disgusted with the fête as Katniss herself. However Heavensbee is later seen with Snow machinating to keep Katniss in line as her further shenanigans only add fuel to the revolution fire. The ultimate outcome of that scheming is the Third Quarter Quell, a kind of "very special" Hunger Games where only previous victors will fight to the death. Snow is obviously hoping that his "Katniss problem" will be solved "naturally", all before a nationwide television audience numbering in the tens of millions.
Because only victors will compete, District 12 has three potential candidates, with Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) rounding out the focal pair. While Katniss' part in the new Quarter Quell is a done deal, she's hoping that Haymitch will be chosen, for she wants to save Peeta at all costs. When Haymitch is chosen, unfortunately Peeta immediately volunteers and is so thrust back into the maelstrom. At this point Haymitch attempts to moderate the damage by getting Katniss to stop stubbornly refusing to ally with other victors, which might end up protecting her and Peeta. After one final act of antagonism against President Snow, and a last ditch (unsuccessful) effort to stop the games, the two District 12 "lovers" are thrust once again into the Hunger Games.
The Games aspect plays out with its requisite high tech drama and a couple of significant sacrifices. Once again Katniss' fast thinking brings the Games to an unexpected close, at which point the film's "big twist" is revealed, which plants the seeds for what will be the final two parts of the film franchise. While this late plot development will certainly not be any surprise to those who have read Suzanne Collins' source novels, it may not even be that spectacularly unexpected to anyone with a fine feeling for third act denouements.
This second film is much better paced than the first Hunger Games, and the interpersonal relationships are now well developed enough that less time needs to be spent delineating characters and more can be devoted to the increasingly labyrinthine plotlines. As heretical as it may sound, I personally found Jennifer Lawrence a little less effective this time around, with a few too many histrionics for the film's good. That's more than offset by the stellar work of the large supporting cast, especially people like Elizabeth Banks who really begin to fully flesh out people like Effie Trinket, who could otherwise be not much more than a caricature. Director Francis Lawrence (no relation to star Jennifer) stages things extremely well, modulating well between big (often special effects laden) set pieces and more intimate character drama.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1 (for the Hunger Games sequences) and 2.40:1 (for all other sequences). This is perhaps appropriately an even darker, moodier experience than the first film, with deep, shaded scenes making up the bulk of the film. Contrast is very strong and shadow detail remains strong throughout the film. Colors have been graded fairly aggressively throughout the film. A lot of the District 12 sequences are bathed in a slate gray or ice cold blue color, with flesh tones and other pops of primaries intentionally desaturated. While this is an understandable stylistic decision, it does tend to slightly mitigate fine detail at times. Once or twice, Francis Lawrence and cinematographer Jo Willems suddenly offer a completely natural, robust looking palette (a scene in a field between Katniss and Gale or the opening of the Games—shown in the first screenshot— are notable examples), and these segments pop incredibly well. The Hunger Games themselves are in a sort of semi-tropical environment, and the greens are lushly presented, though, again, several key sequences take place in the dark. This transfer shows absolutely no signs of artificial sharpening or other digital tweaking and recreates the original theatrical experience exceedingly well.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As with the first film, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire features an incredibly well detailed, bombastic and immersive lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix. All channels are regularly employed with a wealth of well done foley effects and score. Crowd noises spill through the side and surround channels on regular occasions, and such intentionally hokey elements as the big tv show hosted by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) have cheesy music and effects dotting various channels. LFE springs into action regularly throughout the track, including a spectacular fireworks display early in the film and, later, when Katniss discovers a weakness in the Games' system and decides to exploit it. Through it all, dialogue is always very cleanly and clearly presented and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire offers great reference quality audio from the first moment to the last.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is better constructed and more viscerally compelling than the first film, it's not without its issues. The film is probably too long by about 20-30 minutes, and despite the fact that characters are in place and the basic plot well into motion by the opening of this film, the first act still takes a lot of time to further set things into motion. A lot of people loved Jennifer Lawrence in this film, and while I'm in no major way critical of her work here, it struck me as overly hysterical on a few occasions, something that belies Katniss' steely fortitude. On the whole though, this is an incredibly exciting and worthy sequel to the first film and it certainly sets things up for what should be a fantastic conclusion. Highly recommended.
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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Sells 3.9 Million Discs - March 12, 2014
Lionsgate Films has announced that director Francis Lawrence's blockbuster The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has sold an estimated 3.9 million Blu-ray and DVD units in its first weekend of North American release (week of March 7). Blu-ray sales, in particular, represented ...
• Catching Fire Blu-ray: Exclusive Giveaway - March 5, 2014
Blu-ray.com and Lionsgate Films are offering four members a chance to win a copy of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. In addition to the Blu-ray, one grand prize winner will also receive a Catching Fire action figure and a Catching Fire board game. The ...
• The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Officially Announced - January 24, 2014
Lionsgate Films has officially announced that it will release on Blu-ray The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Taylor St. Clair, Woody Harrelson, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, and Paula Malcomson.The release ...
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