The Hunger Games Complete 4 Film Collection Blu-ray Review
For the first time ever, you can own all 4 “The Hunger Games” movies in a single set.
Since the Young Adult “The Hunger Games” books and movies are global hits, I’m not going to go into great depth about each film. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you should all know the story of this Dystopian saga by now. Instead, I’m going to give a rundown of my thoughts on each of the 4 films. So, without further adieu, let the games begin (pun intended).
Despite bearing a strong resemblance to the superior “Battle Royale,” the first “The Hunger Games” remains a solid film and is, in my humble opinion, the best of the 4. Unlike the other 3 films which rely on what came before, the first installment has to do all of the heavy lifting by introducing the characters, building the world, setting the gloomy political scene, and so on. It’s also far and away the most emotional of the lot thanks in large part to the performances by Woody Harrelson (the MVP of the series) and Jennifer Lawrence.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” definitely has a bigger budget, more production values, and some cool new characters (Johanna Mason and Plutarch Heavensbee), but bigger is not always better. “Catching Fire” suffers from more or less being a retread of the first film, but the film does have a killer ending that leads into the third film.
With the games being over, I hoped the “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” would take viewers into new territory with the rebellion against the Capitol, but very little happens in this film at all. It’s just a glorified set-up for part 2.
Speaking of which, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” (which is new to home video this week) is an improvement upon part 1, but it’s still a flawed and ultimately anti-climactic conclusion. Part of the problem here is that I don’t think “Mockingjay” needed to be drawn out into 2 films and 260 minutes. It would have been tighter and more intense as a single 3 hour film and we wouldn’t have to watch a lot of plodding moments that did little more than fill screentime.
Where “Mockingjay Part 2” really falters is with the character work. There are several instances where characters die with very little fanfare and you simply don’t care because they were given very little screentime to begin with. Granted, the scenes with Peeta and Katniss work (especially in the end), but those moments are few and far between. It could and should have been more emotionally investing.
On the plus side, the story’s politics were certainly one of the highlights here as it was not only integral to the story, but it had something to say. It was purposeful, profound, and poignant.
Presentation: All 4 films are presented in 2.40:1, but “Catching Fire” also has IMAX scenes presented in 1.78:1. How do the films look? The transfers are first rate, but would you expect anything less?
Audio Tracks: The first two films contain 7.1 DTS-HD MA tracks while the third and fourth films contain Dolby Atmos tracks. How do they sound? These layered tracks are of the highest quality (especially the last two films).
* Digital copies of all 4 films.
* Lionsgate trailers.
* 3 theatrical trailers, a poster gallery and photo gallery for “The Hunger Games.”
* “The World Is Watching: Making The Hunger Games”- An 8 part making of that covers everything from casting and production design to effects and the post production process.
* 4 featurettes titled “Game Maker: Suzanne Collins And The Hunger Games Phenomenon,” “Letters From The Rose Garden,” “Controlling The Games,” and “A Conversation With Gary Ross And Elvis Mitchell.”
* Commentary on “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2” by Francis Lawrence and Nina Jacobson.
* “Surviving The Games: Making The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”- Another thorough 8 part making of featurette.
* 4 ½ minutes of deleted scenes from “Catching Fire.”
* “The Mockingjay Lives: The Making of Mockingjay Part 1”- The third 8 part making of.
* “Straight From The Heart: A Tribute To Philip Seymour Hoffman”- A touching tribute to the late great actor.
* “Songs Of Rebellion: Lorde On Curating The Soundtrack”- The title says it all.
* Music videos for Lorde’s “Yellow Flicker Beat” and Coldplay’s “Atlas” (yikes to this one).
* 9 deleted scenes from “Mockingjay Part 1.”
* “Pawns No More: Making The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2”- The final 8 part making of. This one covers the saga’s conclusion, the visual design, location shooting, the cast, costumes and makeup, effects, post-prod work, and reflections on the saga as a whole.
* “The Hunger Games: A Photographic Journey”- Photographer Murray Close talks about his career, his work on “The Hunger Games,” his job, etc. An interesting 10 minute extra about important work that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
* “Cinna’s Sketchbook: Secrets Of The Mockingjay Armor”- An extra about the sketchbook and costume.
* “Panem On Display: The Hunger Games: The Exhibition”- A brief look at the interactive exhibition.
* “Jet To The Set”- An episode of an obnoxious TV series about the Atlanta “The Hunger Games” locations.
* “Preparing For The Games: A Director’s Process”- A quick interview with “The Hunger Games” director Gary Ross.
* The Propaganda Film in full.
* “Stories From The Tributes,” “Tribute Video Diaries,” and “Casting The Tributes” delves into the cast from the first film.
* A visual photo album.
* A few self-explanatory featurettes from the first film titled”Stunts Of The Hunger Games,” “Capitol Couture: The Styles Of Panem,” “Weapons of the Arena,” “Effected: The Visual Artwork of The Hunger Games,” “Feast and Famine: Creating The Food For The Hunger Games,” and “On The Black Carpet: The Hunger Games Premiere.”
* Easter eggs for “The Hunger Games,”
* Bios for Glimmer, Marvel, Clove, Cato, Foxface, Rue, Thresh, Katniss and Peta.
* 12 never before seen deleted scenes from “The Hunger Games” and 1 from “Catching Fire.” Undoubtedly a major selling point for this set.
* Featurettes for “Catching Fire” titled “The Alliance: Returning Cast,” “Friend or Foe: New Cast,” “One Vision: A Faithful Adaptation,” “The Look Of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “The Quarter Quell Cast,” “Bringing Panem to Life,” “Taking Aim: Stunts and Weapons,” “The Quell: On Location In Hawaii,” “Battling The Clock Arena,” and “Inside District 12” The Hob.”
* A new extra about food in the first 2 films titled “Capitol Cuisine.”
* Last, but not least there are the featurettes for “Mockingjay Part 1” titled “Rubble and Ashes,” “Utilitarian Chic,” “The Propos Team,” “Combat Zone,” and the Katniss Propo video.
* “Picturing Panem”- A new extra that shows off on set photos.
Overall Thoughts: I know the saga has a large fanbase, but, to me, it never got better than the first film. If you’re a fan of “The Hunger Games,” it doesn’t get any better than this hardbox box set. It’s jam packed with extras and is an absolute bargain for the fair price.
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