THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (eOne, 2013) D: Francis Lawrence, w/ Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson. Rating: NNNN; Blu-ray package: NNNN Rating: NNNN
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a worthy sequel to 2012's The Hunger Games, novelist Suzanne Collins's tale of young Katniss Everdeen's survival in a futuristic society's annual battle to the death.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) gets dragged back into the games when the oppressed citizenry sees her as a symbol of hope for their brewing revolution and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) decides she and all previous winners must die.
The games, which take up the final hour, are set in a lush jungle equipped with bizarre and creative ways of killing the contestants. It's by no means the movie's only visual surprise.
Scenes like choosing the contestants, training and TV appearances are given a different emotional weight than in the first movie. The returning cast handles them perfectly. Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson give Katniss and her companion Peeta a bit more darkness. Sutherland shares sophisticated evil with newcomer Philip Seymour Hoffman as the games' designer, and Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci again provide comic relief as the PR woman from hell and the world's smarmiest TV host.
A making-of doc that's longer than the movie goes into great detail about everything from the technical rigours of shooting in IMAX to the physical trials of acting in the Hawaiian jungle.
EXTRAS Director and producer commentary, making-of doc. English, French audio and subtitles.