Elizabeth Banks (left) lets Jennifer Lawrence say a few words in The Hunger Games.
THE HUNGER GAMES: TWO-DISC EDITION (Alliance, 2012) D: Gary Ross, w/ Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson. Rating: NNNN; Blu-ray package: NNNNN Rating: NNNN
In a totalitarian future, 24 teens are selected annually to battle to the death on national TV, nominally for patriotic reasons but really for the amusement of the overclass. It's a shocking premise, but its violence and satire are safely PG-13. The story focuses on Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a poor girl expected to die in the games, and her growing strength of character.
The first hour is all set-up, made highly watchable by director Gary Ross's cliché-free approach to the future and outstanding performances by Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks and Donald Sutherland.
The sequel, Catching Fire, arrives in November 2013. While you're waiting, check out Battle Royale, a much more savage approach to the same idea.
The highlight of the extras disc is a doc called Letters From The Rose Garden, which features Sutherland reading his three-page letter to Ross on character and themes and Ross's response. I've never seen a better look inside an actor's mind.
The making-of doc runs two hours and goes into detail on everything from acquiring the book rights to opening night and subsequent grosses. This lets Ross expound in detail on everything from his philosophy of filmmaking to the reasons behind specific choices.
EXTRAS Making-of doc, five additional docs, more. English, French audio and subtitles.