Directed by Francis Lawrence; starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Donald Sutherland; rated PG-13; running time: 146 minutes.
Have you been eagerly awaiting the DVD/Blu-ray release of “Hunger Games: Catching Fire?” I know I have. Not only did I love the book (I think it’s my favorite of the trilogy), but the movie far surpassed its predecessor “The Hunger Games” in so many ways.
Francis Lawrence dialed up the action, the elaborate costumes, and the overall look of the sequel, and the end result is an entertaining film that delves into how psychologically damaging the Hunger Games can be. That’s my review in a nutshell, but you can read Jeff’s more in-depth analysis from when the movie was in theaters here.
And, to be perfectly honest, I have a very personal relationship with the film. I was fortunate enough to be an extra on set for a day, and I participated in three very very brief scenes. Sadly I am not visible in the final film, but I sat in a chair behind Finnick during his reaping scene, and I was also not far from Katniss and Peeta when they received flowers during the victory tour. It’s amazing to think of the time and effort that went into my wardrobe, hair, and makeup (multiplied by hundreds of other extras) for the majority of us not to even be visible onscreen. So much attention to detail, and I think it really shows how much passion Francis Lawrence put into the film.
The film crew shot in locations all around my hometown of Atlanta, including the Marriott Marquis, which is familiar to anyone who attends Dragon Con. Remember the elevator scene where Johanna strips? That was shot at the hotel. And the historic Swan House served as the residence of President Snow. Filming is currently taking place now for the “Mockingjay” films in the area, and the crew was back at the Marriott for scenes a few months ago.
But back to the film and its release. There are some great behind the scenes featurettes on the Blu-ray, and one of them focuses on the aforementioned filming in Atlanta, while another covers the more exotic Hawaii locations. Additional segments highlight the fabulous costumes by Trish Summerville and Effie Trinket’s elaborate makeup, as well as stunts and post-production. All of the main cast is interviewed, and it's expressed many times how close some of them have become over the course of the two films.
Also included are a handful of deleted scenes, including a longer conversation between Plutarch Heavensbee and President Snow about eliminating Katniss. Seeing the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in his scenes reminds me just how much talent he had, and his interviews were a bit sad to watch. Hearing him talk about looking forward to shooting “Mockingjay” was difficult, knowing that he would never finish his remaining scenes for the film.
Another deleted scene shows Katniss and Finnick in the training room, and Finnick pours on the charm as he demonstrates to Katniss how to tie a knot. I’m actually surprised this scene didn’t make it into the final film. It was brief and one of the few lighter moments in the movie. I can only guess it didn't fit in with the overall mood of the rest of the training scenes.
There’s also an audio commentary with director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson.
“Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is now available in a variety of formats for your viewing pleasure.
Let the games begin!