It’s not a new look at the human condition. An oppressive regime holding the people prisoner with poverty, hunger, and fear comes up on a lot of stories, books, movies, songs, poems, novels, mythology, and legends. Books have been around a few thousand hears, but movie are a relatively new storytelling tool in the history of humans. Film can take words on a page and inject a new kind of life. The Hunger Games has a compelling, solid tale to tell about greed and power and how the masses of us should or could be controlled by those things.
This telling of The Games’ first installment is grim but sassy, colorful but at times de-saturated. My impression is that someone wanted to explore the more dynamic visual nods from the world where Katniss lives. Katniss is the hero, a young woman going to a certain death under the guise of a 75 year tradition of her country. There was a revolution, a war, and after it was over the folks in charge decided that to keep the masses of the 12 districts from revolting again they would impose a competition, of sorts. More of a spectacle, a show of ultimate unchangeable authority, a girl and boy between 12-18 years old are chosen from a lottery to go battle each other. It’s a hunt and kill “game” covering many miles, varied terrain, traps, viciousness, and television. The whole process is televised, amped up by the selling of the young people as celebrities. There are lots of details that you just need to read the book or see the movie to fill in the gaps.
It’s the details that made it not as satisfying as it could have been for someone like me who didn’t read the book. There are so many moments when my mind hasn’t got the whole world laid out in the original text to fully understand every interaction, visual reference, choice, etc. I didn’t get lost in the story the way I would want to, but on the flip side I felt like I was going on an adventure, wanting for noble gestures and a rise in the human spirit….these were redeeming qualities.
The look of the movie is mostly slick, but with the often hand-held quality to give us that “in the mix of things” feeling. The costumes of the city folks are outrageous and express the indulgence of a society gone very wrong. The depression era look of District 12 visually confirms that they are beaten down, hungry, and sufficiently oppressed. There is a city that’s got that super futuristic vibe, but we don’t get much of a chance to digest it. It kind of flashes before our eyes and then it’s on with the story. I like that directing, more focus on the action and less on being immersed in the tech of the times.
Overall the concept is intriguing, the action is well designed, the directing is a bit too much, visually it’s eye candy, the cast is pretty good, and I enjoyed it a lot. I just wish it felt more like it was made for everyone, readers and movie people alike.
- Game Maker: Suzanne Collins And The Hunger Games Phenomenon – Scholastic and Suzanne Collins talk about the books. This lasts about 14 minutes and is the only time Collins appears on the discs.
- The World Is Watching: Making The Hunger Games – A feature length documentary which clocks in at over 2 hours. This is broken into sections and covers everything from pre production to the premiere of the movie.
- Letters From The Rose Garden – Donald Sutherland talks about how moved he was by the script and reads the letter he sent to Director Gary Ross.
- Controlling The Games – Takes you inside the control center used in the movie. which is essetially a huge green screen.
- A Conversation With Gary Ross And Elvis Mitchell – A 15 minute interview with the guys behind getting the movie made.
- Preparing For The Games: A Directors Process – Listen to Ross talk about the writing and shooting of the movie.
- Propaganda Film – The full screen version of the Reaping propaganda film shown briefly in the movie. It’s good to see it in full as you catch some extra detail not seen in the movie.
- Marketing Archive – Trailers. Posters and a Photo Gallery.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 7.5/10
It’s a good cover image, striking and it would make a good poster. The problem is that now I see it everywhere. Just walking through my grocery store I see it about 5 different times, displays, Red Box, DVD’s for sale, posters….and so it’s getting on my nerves with the over saturation. That’s not the fault of the design, but still, it’s kind of annoying. The menu is functional with clips from the movie, so it’s best avoided before watching.
Audio & Video: 9/10 (By Ascully)
The Hunger Games is filmed in the fashionable Cinema Verity style that a lot of people dislike. The 1080P AVC transfer is great but due to the shaky cam nature it does become blurry at times. Still colors are accurate and blacks look great. Once the film moves from the Districts into the capitol it becomes a flurry of color and spectacle and looks as good as a 2012 movie on Blu-ray should.
Audio is as spectacular as it gets with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track that really puts The Hunger Games right into your living room. Before I get into the main audio track also included on the disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track that is optimized for late night listening. I have never actually seen this before and is superb for playing when mom and dad are in bed (right kids?).
Back to the main track this incredible mix is up there with 2012’s best. Listen when the ship hovers overhead at the start of the movie for an incredible wave of bass that shakes the room. And be prepared for the thud of the cannon when a Tribute is killed. Audio is impeccable throughout and you will be hard pressed to find any issue.
For around 18 bucks this is a pretty good value. It’s re-watchable for a lot of people who will get hours and hours and hours of entertainment for their money. I predict this price will drop even more by the holidays, so that adds to the entertainment value even more. I would say buy it for lovers of the books, rent it for a try and then buy it if you get hooked on the world of The Hunger Games.
Overall Score 7.5/10