"The Hunger Games"

August 2012

The Hunger GamesSuspenseful Fantasy Adventure Receives Excellent Blu-ray Treatment

Lionsgate
Format: Blu-ray

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Picture Quality
****

Sound Quality
****1/2

Extras
****

The nation of Panem rose from what used to be North America, which war has all but destroyed. The new government, in a massive crowd-control effort, seeks to distract citizens with an annual Hunger Games ceremony in which a male and female teenager from each of the nation's 12 districts compete to the death. The last remaining contestant will be the victor. The others will be mourned.

The story, based on the popular young adult novel by Suzanne Collins, focuses on Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a resident of District 12 who volunteers to play the game in place of her younger sister, who has been chosen in the selection lottery. She travels to the Capitol with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the male teen picked to participate from District 12.

Though many characters stand out as memorable, including smarmy game-show host Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), the movie is really about Katniss's adventure, the journey in which she discovers that it would be better to die than to take another's life. Director Gary Ross has done a marvelous job of putting Katniss front and center without ignoring the others around her. The shifts between the forest, the site of the games, and the control booth are just right to remind us that the government, headed by President Snow (Donald Sutherland), regards the games as little more than prime-time television. The first hour of the film is slow at times, but once the teens hit the forest the pace picks up with palpable suspense. In a film where the gore might have been over the top, Ross has shown admirable restraint, creating good horror without going over the top.

The picture from the Blu-ray Disc is highly satisfying. Colors are variable and they run the gamut from the deep, realistic greens of the forest to the bizarre hues of the costumes that the people of the Capitol wear. Shadow detail is just fine and blacks are inky and solid. The sound is even better than the picture, with surround effects that can be downright scary, such as the roaring sounds of a forest fire that causes Katniss to run for her life.

The main extra on the second Blu-ray Disc included in this set is a two-hour production movie, The World Is Watching: Making the Hunger Games. There are a few other featurettes, including "Letters from the Rose Garden," a very odd little gem setting forth Donald Sutherland's intense feelings on his character.

The Hunger Games is often compared to the Japanese movie Battle Royale, and that film, which I consider a bit more intense and involving than The Hunger Games, has recently been made available by Anchor Bay with a stunning razor-sharp picture. Both movies remind us that perhaps we have not advanced very far from Rome, the Colosseum, and the gladiators after all.

Be sure to watch for: Much of the movie was shot in the Appalachian region of North Carolina to take advantage of the area's superb hardwood forests and deserted mining towns. Some of the movie's opening scenes provide glimpses of this region that are breathtaking in their Blu-ray detail.

. . . Rad Bennett
radb@soundstagenetwork.com

More SoundStage! Videos

  • Focal Shape 65 Active Speaker is a Winner for Both Audiophiles and Studios (Take 2, Ep:5)
  • Audio Research's 50th Anniversary Products, Celebration, and Future - SoundStage! Talks (July 2020)
  • Get Closer to Your Music with the HEDD Type 07 Active Speaker -- Literally. (Take 2, Ep:4) #AMTfi
  • Back to the
  • Details on the Bowers & Wilkins 700-Series Signature Speakers - SoundStage! Talks (June 2020)
  • Activities at Hi-Fi Super-Retailer Goodwin's High End - SoundStage! Talks (June 2020)
  • Totem Acoustic Skylight Speaker Review! Affordable Speakers with a Big Sound (Take 2, Ep:2)
  • The Long-Term Investment in a Bryston Amplifier - SoundStage! Talks (June 2020)
  • PMC and the Flagship Fenestria Loudspeaker - 2019 SoundStage! Product of the Year Winner (June 2020)
  • Hegel H120 Integrated Amplifier Review. Living With It for the Past 3 Months! (Take 2, Ep:1)
  • The Power, Purpose, and Appeal of Bluesound's Powernode 2i Amplifier - SoundStage! Talks (June 2020)
  • Buying Speakers for a Teenager - SoundStage! Talks (May 2020)
  • Buying Active, Powered, or Passive Speakers for the Studio - SoundStage! Encore (June 2020)
  • Focal's Speaker Driver-Cone Materials - SoundStage! Talks (May 2020)
  • Dutch & Dutch 8c Active Loudspeaker in Detail - SoundStage! InSight (June 2020)
  • Gryphon's Flagship CD Player and Yamaha's New Turntable in Australia - SoundStage! Talks (May 2020)
  • Gryphon's New Class-A Essence Amplifiers - SoundStage! Talks (May 2020)
  • Vivid Audio's Laurence Dickie, Designer of the B&W Nautilus - SoundStage! Icons (June 2020)
  • Rockport Speakers Now Come in Colors - SoundStage! Talks (May 2020)
  • Deep Inside Crystal Cable - SoundStage! InSight (May 2020)
  • High-Res and Multichannel for Music Playback - SoundStage! Encore (May 2020)
  • KEF's Dr. Jack Oclee-Brown on Speaker Design - SoundStage! Icons (May 2020)
  • Intro to Dutch & Dutch and the 8c Active Loudspeaker - SoundStage! InSight (April 2020)