Blu-ray Review: The Hunger Games: The Complete 4-Film Collection

By , Contributor
Those holding out on purchasing The Hunger Games film series, anticipating an extras-packed box set—the wait is over. Now available via Lionsgate, The Hunger Games: The Complete 4-Film Collection contains six discs (including an exclusive bonus disc), with hours of previously unseen bonus material. The set carries an SRP of $64.97 (shop around, deals are out there) and is timed to coincide with the standalone release of Mockingjay Part 2.

It'll be interesting to see how the Hunger Games films hold up in terms of pop culture relevancy in the years to come. My prediction is that their garish spectacle will not age well, except as a nostalgia piece for those who grew up with them. The outlandish costumes, awkward character names (Peeta Mallark? Really?), and often speechifying dialogue don't really wear well over repeat viewings. I know there's an army of fans who'd readily disagree with me, but only time will tell.

The films are entertaining, especially the first two. Jennifer Lawrence's superstar-making role as Katniss Everdeen anchors the series, even as it spins into tedious indulgence during it's final two films. The death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, so effective as Head Gamemaker with a hidden agenda (he entered with the second film, Catching Fire), is a hindrance to the second half of Mockingjay Part 2. Frankly, Mockingjay would've probably been a tighter film had they not split it in two. That's greed for you (it hasn't paid off as well for the other big YA-adaptation series Divergent, and third-stringer Maze Runner nixed plans to split it's concluding film in two parts).

Aside from the protracted running time of the complete Mockingjay, the other big problem with the series' conclusion is its predictability. The trajectory of Alma Coin's (Julianne Moore) rise to power will be visible a mile away to all but the youngest, most naive of viewers. No less obvious are the decisions of Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), the extraneous third leg of the series-long love triangle (the other two being Katniss and Peeta). Having not read any of the source novels, I'm not sure how accurately the films follow author Suzanne Collins' original stories. Whatever the case, the storytelling in the Mockingjay films lacks the inspiration that makes the first two installments enjoyable.

Lionsgate's Blu-rays are consistently strong, with each film looking excellent in 1080p high definition. The audio for the first two films is DTS-HD MA 7.1, while the Mockingjay films are Dolby Atmos (defaulting to Dolby TrueHD 7.1).

The draw for this four-film collection is the supplements package. And what a draw it is. The four individual films carry over the bonus materials previously available on each standalone release. The concurrent new release Mockingjay Part 2 has: commentary by director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson, the eight-part 'making of' "Pawns No More" (totaling an impressive two hours and 20 minutes), "The Hunger Games: A Photographic Journey," "Cinna's Sketchbook: Secrets of the Mockingjay Armor," "Panem on Display: The Hunger Games Exhibition" (a two-minute commercial, basically), and "Jet to the Set" (a surprisingly substantial 40-minute episode of an existing series). 

hunger games four film collection BD (294x380).jpg There's a bunch of brand new stuff on disc six (and a bunch of stuff repeated from the first Games' bonus material, for some weird reason), the bonus disc.

For The Hunger Games (not including the repeated material):

"Stories from the Tributes" (18 minutes)

"Casting the Tributes" (11 minutes)

"Tribute Video Diaries" (17 minutes)

"Photo Album" (3 minutes)

"Stunts of The Hunger Games (15 minutes)

"Capitol Couture: The Styles of Panem" (18 minutes)

"Weapons of the Arena" (7 minutes)

"EFFECTED: The Visual Artwork of The Hunger Games" (10 minutes)

"Feast and Famine: Creating the Food for The Hunger Games" (7 minutes)

"On the Black Carpet: The Hunger Games Premiere" (5 minutes)

For Catching Fire:

"The Alliance: Returning Cast" (14 minutes)

"Friend or Foe: New Cast" (18 minutes)

"One Vision: A Faithful Adaptation" (12 minutes)

"The Look of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (3 minutes)

"The Quarter Quell Cast" (3 minutes)

"Bringing Panem to Life" (6 minutes)

"Taking Aim: Stunts and Weapons" (6 minutes)

"The Quell: On Location in Hawaii" (5 minutes)

"Battling the Clock Arena" (5 minutes)

"Coldplay 'Atlas' Video" (4 minutes)

"Capitol Cuisine" (5 minutes; billed as "never before seen," which confuses me because I thought all the bonus disc stuff was new)

"Inside District 12: The Hob" (2 minutes)

"Deleted Scene" (30 seconds, again "never before seen")

For Mockingjay Part 1

"Rubble and Ashes" (9 minutes)

"Utilitarian Chic" (13 minutes)

"The Propos Team" (12 minutes)

"Combat Zone" (12 minutes)

"Katniss Propo Video" (19 seconds)

"Picturing Panem" (7 minutes; this one is also "never before seen")

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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