Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The (Blu-ray) (2013)
Audio Commentary-Francis Lawrence and Nina Jacobson
Featurette-Inside District 12 : The Hob
Featurette-The Alliance : Returning Cast
Featurette-Friend or Foe : the New Cast
Featurette-One Vision : A Faithful Adaptation
|Year Of Production||2013|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Francis Lawrence|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
There is no doubt that the joy fans of the Hunger Games series will experience on release of the second part of the film instalment-The Hunger Games:Catching Fire-will be tempered by a pause for reflection at the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman who plays, and will continue to play, a key role in this series. He had already completed filming part one of the two part final story Mockingjay and had a week left to film part two. News that he would be "digitally recreated" for the final film brings back memories of Oliver Reed in Gladiator.
Catching Fire picks up not long after the end of the last film, where Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark had managed to cheat the Hunger Games system by surviving as joint winners, defying the desires of the evil dictator President Coriolanus Snow. As winners of the Hunger Games they are now rock stars, something both of these very private young people don't want. In this world such fame carries a heavy pricetag.
As the film begins Peter and Katniss are travelling the Districts on a Winners Tour, a strange experience that sees them appearing as victorious gladiators before the disgruntled and downtrodden occupants of the increasingly restless Districts. There is rebellion in the air and President Snow becomes more and more frustrated in his efforts to quell the unruly areas. Attempts by the young pair to improvise and bring genuine sympathy to the Districts whose fallen tributes were good friends in the arena have disastrous consequences.
Seymour Hoffman plays Plutarch Heavensbee, the new Gamemaker after the untimely death of the previous Gamemaker Seneca Crane, whose failure to deliver a result which left either Peter or Katniss dead sealed his own doom. As the new Gamemaker Putarch has a brilliant idea to quell the rebellious spirit of the people and see an end to the troublesome Katniss - a Quarter Quell - where two Tributes are selected from previous winners of the Hunger Games. In the case of luckless District 12 that means either Haymitch or Peeta as the male and just unfortunate Katniss as the female tribute.
There would be no Hunger Games movie without some Hunger Games action (or Mockingjay action) and the second half of the movie is dedicated to the battle between the champion tributes in a new and exceedingly devious arena, designed by Plutarch. Into the world of politics and pain come a new crop of characters of different skills and temperaments.All round Godlike Finnick Odair (Sam Clafin), crazy mad bad girl Johanna Mason (Jena Malone)and the crazy but clever pair Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) and Wiress (Amanda Plummer) who won their Hunger Games through genius rather than brutality.
How these new friends/foes relate either to "get on or get violent" is half the fun as the tributes must survive dangers as evil as the first arena but with a special twist. Meanwhile, the outside world goes on as the jackboot of Snow comes down hard on the rebellious Districts.
Those who liked the first film will enjoy this one even more. Incoming director Francis Lawrence (who is probably getting sick of people asking if he is related to Jennifer Lawrence)directs both the action and the personal drama with equal flair. If anything the film is tighter and more interesting than the source novel though that may be a bloke talking who got tired of the teen love triangle aspect that probably captivated the fairer species.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is presented on Blu-ray in a 2.40:1 transfer almost identical to the cinematic 2.39:1 original aspect ratio.
There is one curious anomaly. The arena scenes were shot on IMAX in a original 1.44:1 aspect ratio which, according to some US sites, has been converted to 1.78:1 for home theatre. Screenshots seem to confirm that as accurate. The version I reviewed, however, was a steady 2.40:1 throughout. Does this affect the quality of the transfer? Not a bit. Is the transfer in keeping with the directors wishes? No idea.
I previously commented on the quality of the transfer for the first Hunger Games film. This transfer is also superb however this time around there is more darkness and depression which is reflected in the desaturated image in District 12. There is a lot of greys and overcast skies and District 12, as well as the other Districts under the crushing thumb of President Snow seem lifeless.
Even the Capitol is becoming increasingly stark. It is only in the party scenes where there is a riot of colour and, as usual, Effie Trinket can be relied upon to bring a complete palette to the film.
In the arena, shot in Hawaii, there is a preponderance of greens and the image quality is definitely crisp having been shot in IMAX.
There are no issues of compression and the transfer is crisp and clear throughout without any artefacts or minor defects.
The flesh tones are accurate.
There are subtitles in English for the hearing-impaired.
The Hunger Games:Catching Fire carries as its main soundtrack, as with the earlier film, a wonderful DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track.
There is also a 2.0 Descriptive Narration track.
The 7.1 track is always a joy. As usual, it is in the arena that the sonic fireworks take off, particularly in the frenzied action scenes. However the track is just as enjoyable in the quieter moments where subtle sound effects such as the wind on the hillside in District 12 add character to the film.
The sub-woofer responds well to the bass. There is enough weight in the bass to shake the room from time to time.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout.
James Newton Howard again provides the sort of moving orchestral score to the film.
As with the first film Catching Fire brings on board a host of musical performers to create songs for the film which this time includes:
|Surround Channel Use|
Catching Fire comes in a variety of versions. The edition supplied for review is the single Blu-ray version.
This contains the following extras:
This is a genial and generally informative commentary track. Lawrence and Jacobsen have a lot to say about the technical difficulties in filming in the various locations. The usual quirks, like the opening scene being filmed last, in freezing weather after the team returned from glorious Hawaii.
These deleted scenes are more in the nature of fragments rather than complete scenes. In the main they do not add much to the experience. There is only one scene that it is interesting where President Snow explains to Plutarch the origin of the Mockingjay.
The Hob is the marketplace in District 12 where all the Black Market deals are done.This short featurette is a tribute to the Hob accompanied by stirring and moving music.
the returning cast and crew including Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, as well as producer Nina Jacobson, talk about the choice experience of getting the "old team" back together.
This is an opportunity for the newcomers to explain their involvement in the film as well as the returning cast talking about the joy of the addition of new quality talent. Jeffrey Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amanda Plummer and Jena Malone all talk about their involvement in the project.
Director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson talk about the importance of keeping fidelity with the Hunger Games books.
There is also a deluxe edition which is available from some retailers. That edition contains an extremely lengthy and comprehensive series of extras as follows:
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Thanks to the further input from readers it would seem that the Region A version is the better due to the correct aspect ratio and the higher quality sound.
Many serious cinema fans will avoid entirely films based on young adult novels however the Hunger Games films have followed from strength to strength. The final book in the series, Mockingjay, has been split into two parts for filming much like the final Twilight book and the last Harry Potter book. Fans of the novels will have their own opinion on that choice. In the hands of director Francis Lawrence it is likely to get the treatment it deserves.
Catching Fire is a strong second movie in the series. The Blu-ray presentation is strong in sound and vision terms. The extras, at least on the expanded edition, are exceedingly comprehensive.
|DVD||Cambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer SC-LX 81 7.1|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|