Hunger Games, The

WSR Score5
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
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Intense viiolent thematic material and disturbing images all involving teens
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Gary Ross
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Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS HD Lossless 7.1, DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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Based on the novel by Writer Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is the first in a trilogy. Set in the future, one male and one female from each of the twelve districts of the nation is forced to participate in the annual competition called The Hunger Games, which is broadcast live throughout the country for the entertainment of the Capitol's wealthy residents. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) volunteers in her younger sister's place to enter the games, and is forced to reply upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy (Harrelson) when she's pitted against highly trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives. If she's ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. (Gary Reber)

Special features include a making-of eight-part documentary (HD 122:00); four featurettes: Game Maker: Suzanne Collins And The Hunger Games Phenomenon (HD 14:05), Letters From The Rose Garden (HD 09:08), Controlling The Games (HD 05:50), and Preparing For The Games: A Director's Process (HD 03:00); a conversation with Director Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell (HD 14:31); the Propaganda Film"(HD 01:34); upfront previews; BD-Live functionality; an UltraViolet digital copy; and 7.1 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio™ sound checks.

The 2.40:1 1080p AVC picture is superb, with an absolutely natural appearance and cinematic texture. Fleshtones are naturally hued throughout. The color palette is never exaggerated, with hues that are warm and rich. Contrast is well balanced throughout with deep, solid blacks and revealing shadow delineation. Resolution is finely rendered, though, at times slightly soft. Close-ups of facial features, hair, clothing, and object textures are effectively rendered. Slight grain is noticeable but never distracting. Overall, this is a visual experience that exhibits a cinematic quality that is thoroughly engaging. (Gay Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1-channel soundtrack is effectively rendered with an aggressive holosonic® soundfield dimensionality that conveys a spatially dynamic presence. Surround envelopment is not only aggressive but directionalized, whether during intense scenes or during low-level atmospherics soundscapes. James Newton Howard's orchestral music score is dynamic, with a wide and deep soundstage presence that extends effectively to the surround channels. Deep bass is articulated in the .1 LFE channel, to provide weight to the action and sacrifice scenes and the music score. Dialogue is intelligible, with a spatially integrated presence. The added dimensionality provided by the additional two channels further enhances the sonic engagement and suspenseful unfolding of the Games.
Uniquely, this is the first Blu-ray Disc™ to feature verification setup menus for both 7.1- and 5.1-channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. As such, the diagrams confirm the confusion surrounding various DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby® TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtracks. First, upon verifying the 5.1-channel format, note that the two surround loudspeakers are to the back sides of the sweet spot in the identical location shown for the Left and Right Rear Surround channel positions shown on the 7.1-channel diagram. This is the preferred positioning of the channel loudspeakers in a 5.1-channel setup, whether DTS® or Dolby, and remains the conventional real life positioning application, except for the THX® dipole configuration, with the two surround loudspeakers positioned 90 degrees to the sweet spot and elevated in height with an out-of-phase reflective sound-wave generation. Now, the 7.1-channel menu shows the additional two channels not to the 90-degree side positions but in the identical location shown for the Left and Right Surround channels on the 5.1-channel diagram. Thus, one must re-wire their system when reproducing a 7.1-channel soundtrack that was mixed as such. But, until this Blu-ray Disc, one would not know, unless they had an acute hearing ability or metering to confirm the channel positions of the two added- channel loudspeakers. The 7.1-channel diagram conforms on this disc to the Dolby theatrical 7.1-channel standard, with the added channels to the rear sides. But not all Blu-ray 7.1-channel mixes conform to the theatrical standard (limited in imaging resolution due to the innate nature of a large audience auditorium) and instead position the two added channels to the 90-degree positions (in the cinema, an array wall). Thus, this is the confusion that the industry has caused for enthusiasts who want to optimize the sonic experience. For home theatre applications, the latter positioning is preferred because it provides better phantom imaging between channels, with all channel loudspeakers placed equidistant from the sweet spot and at equal 60-degree included angles relative to the sweet spot. These active diagrams should be standard on EVERY 7.1- Blur-ray Disc release.(Gary Reber)