Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Video review: "The Hunger Games"
"The Hunger Games" is officially a global phenomenon, racking up enough ticket sales to make even the "Twilight" franchise take notice. Both are based on young adult novels, but rather than just vampires and werewolves competing to see who can out-smolder the other, "The Hunger Games" actually has a story to tell.
In a dystopian future where the North American population is divided into a dozen districts, a male and female youngster from each are selected every year to compete in the Games, a brutal modern form of gladiator fighting. The games are televised, with the audience able to send assistance to their favorites.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a proud girl from a poor district who volunteered to protect her younger sister from being conscripted. The story follows her as she and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), the boy selected from her district, go through the training and initiation process, which combines the pageantry of the Olympics with the pop culture crassness of a reality TV show.
Eventually, of course, they're dropped into the wilderness and the bloodletting begins. "The Hunger Games" has some great action scenes, but also some brains and storytelling ambition. I'm actually looking forward to the sequel.
Video extras are rather good, and you don't have to shell out top dollar to get some worthy goodies. The DVD comes with a making-of documentary, and a featurette about the books by Suzanne Collins.
Other features include "Letters from the Rose Garden," "Controlling the Games" and a conversation between director Gary Ross and film critic Elvis Mitchell. There's also a faux "propaganda" film ostensibly from the nefarious forces organizing the Games.
Upgrade to the Blu-ray edition, and you add an interactive feature, " Preparing for the Games: A Director's Process."
Movie: 3 stars
Extras: 3.5 stars