Included: Hunger Games feature film, Game Maker: Suzanne Collins and the Hunger Games Phenomenon, The World is Watching: Making the Hunger Games, Letters from the Rose Garden, Controlling the Games, A Conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell, Preparing for The Games: A Director’s Process (Blu-ray Exclusive), Propaganda Film, Marketing Archive
Purchased from Amazon
Since so many of us in the YA community have a love affair with The Hunger Games trilogy and the long-awaited DVD has finally been released, I thought I’d throw together some quick thoughts on the various things that are included. I rarely watch behind the scenes stuff because I feel like it takes away from the magic of the movie in most cases, but here I’m too curious not to watch.
The only thing I’m really not going to review here is the movie itself. I really don’t want to review it. I felt like it was fairly loyal to the book, or at least as loyal as possible considering how much they had to pare down to get it to movie length. At this point we’ve all either formed our own opinions or will form our own opinions and ultimately we’ll either love it or be disappointed by it. I loved it. But let’s be honest, we all know who the real stars are: Caesar Flickerman’s teeth. Seneca Crane’s beard. Effie Trinket’s wigs & fascinators.
In terms of the Blu-Ray: the picture quality is ah-may-zing. I highly recommend picking this up on BR instead of regular DVD if you have the means to play it. It’s worth the extra money. There are an obnoxious amount of commercials at the beginning of the disc with the movie, but as far as I could tell they were all able to be skipped (literally…I put the disk in and went to feed my dogs, fed the cats, cleaned three litter boxes, took out the garbage & recyclables and loaded the dishwasher and the commercials were STILL playing when I sat back down. Movie studios, you are the worst). The movie disc itself had some extra features but they mostly looked like promotional garbage from LionsGate. I didn’t bother with them.
Disc 2 – The Extras:
The World is Watching: Countdown – Small featurette that discusses the process of adapting the book to screenplay. Discusses the involvement of Suzanne Collins and has interviews with screenwriters, producers, the director, and actors. Discusses the differences between the book and the movie and how they determined what the style of the movie would be. Also, for YA nerds, there is a David Levithan sighting.
The World is Watching: Casting – Pretty straightforward featurette that discusses the casting of the film. Lots of interviews with the actors. They talk about how invested fans of the series were in who would be cast in the main roles. I thought it was really interesting who was a lock for the roles as soon as they auditioned and who they were skeptical about initially. I also thought it was really interesting to know that one of the main characters initially declined the role and only took it after being convinced by the director. Also, Donald Sutherland is morphing into Gandalf.
The World is Watching: Design – This was one that I was really interested to see because the design in this movie is crayzay. Lots of neat technical stuff, but nothing that the average movie watcher (like me) will feel is over their head. Some interesting stuff about the script and some good info from the costume designers, makeup people, production designer, etc.
The World is Watching: Arena Ready – Stunts, stunts, stunts! This was one of my favorite featurettes because it was just so cool. I was totally shocked at how many of their own stunts the actors did. Jennifer Lawrence is unquestionably a badass.
The World is Watching: On Location in Panem – Lots of stuff about scouting locations, shooting on location, etc. The actors talk about what it was like shooting outside in nature with heat, wildlife encounters, etc. Lots of shots of the actors having fun when the cameras weren’t rolling. Jack Quaid is quite the cut up.
The World is Watching: Effects – Reeeally cool if you have any interest in CGI.
The World is Watching: Post-Production – Deals with the editing process, scoring the film, sound engineering. Much more interesting than I expected it would be.
The World is Watching: May the Odds Be Ever In Your Favor – Featurette on the phenomenon of The Hunger Games, most specifically the movie and more specifically tween girls screaming in malls. This was the least interesting of the “The World is Watching” featurettes to me because to be honest, I don’t really care about that actors’ real lives. I have no interest in them outside of film. And watching girls scream at Josh Hutcherson & Liam Hemsworth holds even less interest. The only thing that really did catch my eye is that Liam is either an enormous guy or Josh is a tinyperson, because seeing them stand next to one another was utterly hilarious. Hutcherson literally could have fit in Hemsworth’s pocket. To be fair, it does cover legit fan/critical reaction to the movie as well, so that actually made me feel like watching the featurette was worthwhile.
Featurette: Game Maker: Suzanne Collins & The Hunger Games Phenomenon – More David Levithan! Talks about how Suzanne Collins came up with the idea of THG. Some discussion of the YA genre and what it encompasses – yay! Discussed reading the book in schools & generating discussion among students and teachers. It’s cool to see that many of the actors in the movie were already fans of the book.
Featurette: Letters From the Rose Garden – About President Snow. If I didn’t think Donald Sutherland was perfectly cast before (and I really did), I do now. Though frankly I could live without hearing him say the word ‘horny’ ever again.
Featurette: Controlling the Games – About the game makers, including the scenes in the control room that were added for the movie that didn’t appear in the book. Also, I never found Wes Bentley especially attractive before but the man can work a v-neck t-shirt.
Featurette: A Conversation with Gary Ross & Elvis Mitchell – Elvis Mitchell is a film critic, to save you the trouble if you have to google him like I did (I never mix my nerd genres, I stay loyal to books). Critical discussion of the character of Katniss & the world of Panem.
Featurette: Preparing for the Hunger Games: A Director’s Process – Pretty much exactly what it sounds like. How director Gary Ross decided how to shoot the movie. This part was a little less interesting for me personally, though they do a really cool thing with split screen where they show a scene from the movie alongside the storyboard for the scene while the script scrolls beneath it and everything matches up. Really cool.
Featurette: Propaganda Film – One of the coolest features IMO. The entirety of the propaganda film that is shown at the reaping.
Marketing Gallery – contains the the three trailers (sneak peak, trailer 1 & trailer 2), poster gallery, which didn’t really have anything outside of the posters that were already released, and a photo gallery, which was ok but really nbd.
There is also an amazing easter egg included on the extras disc. If you don’t want to find it on your own and don’t mind being spoiled, this write-up is much better than I could do: Easter Egg
An Ultraviolet copy is also included, but those are essentially worthless IMO.
Overall it was really very cool. I actually wish that there would have been more extras but my film buff boyfriend says that the ones included are more than you get with most DVDs so I guess I’m just a whore for THG content. I for sure would have liked to see more content on the world of Panem itself – what each district represented, etc. – but since it was put together by a movie studio it’s understandable that they focused primarily on the making of the movie.