Katniss and friends roar into high-def on a particularly killer Blu-ray edition....
Lionsgate / 142 Minutes / 2012 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: August 18, 2012
The rigors of full-fledged revolutionary are still very much in play as we begin The Hunger Games. Almost a hundred years before we meet Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) or Peeta (John Sutcherson), we learn that a major change of power was at hand, and the ruling class of America - now referred to in deep, brooding tones as Panem - oversees its subjects with a steely fortitude.
The kicker, though, is that they still hold a bit of a grudge for the way things went down all those years ago, and they manifest this ire in the form of Hunger Games, an annual event where two participants from each district of the land - there are twelve of them - go head-to-head in a Most Dangerous Game-meets-Survivor showdown that is broadcast to every denizen in the land.
Even though there isn't much that feels particularly new or authentic about Suzanne Collins' novels or this first adaptation of them, there's a frenetic inertia to The Hunger Games that lets its spare shtick remain relevant. Broad, vivid megaplex filmmaking of a surprisingly unpretentious nature, Gary Ross' film hardly ever gives the impression of being anything but what it is: a direct, fast-paced, escapist battle film. Nuanced or no, the thing works.
Its transition from book to screen isn't completely convincing - reading the novel before buying this disc might prove helpful in keeping track of the movie's cross-section of characters - and as popcorn fare, if one pays too much attention to plot logic of dramatic realism, the thing falls to bloody pieces, but as a dog-days high-def rental, this is a perfect excuse to dim the lights, blast the AC and watch a monster-budgeted action flick supernova on your set in front of you.