Traditionally, when studios choose to throw out a release date for any given Blu-ray, DVD or Digital set, those studios pick a random Tuesday. It’s a lot easier for frequent and infrequent buyers to remember when titles will become available that way. This week in home entertainment, we’re throwing you a bit of a doozy, releasing our home entertainment column the day of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire release. All other releases mentioned in the column were released on Tuesday, March 4.

Catching Fire box
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Blu-ray
Putting together a series based on a set of books is harder than it looks, especially when filmmakers are trying to tell stories within each film that the average, very much non-super fans can jump into and follow. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire mostly succeeds at this, creating a film that is brutal, creative and well-acted. It's a story that should please readers with its heavy detail but may be light on the action for some during its first half.

Catching Fire’s problematic setup begins with a train ride. Early on in the film, our heroes, the obstinate and angry Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), the steady but emotional Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and the very drunk mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) must visit all of the Districts in their dystopian future before the next round of Hunger Games is announced. It takes several costume changes and some updates from Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) before the stitch in the plot is revealed: President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is displeased with Katniss’ small rebellions against him and would like to depose of her. To do so, he insists that another round in the arena will take place.

Despite a slow-moving initial setup, Francis Lawrence’s film capably sets the film up for two more movies, introducing us to a plethora of brand new characters. There’s the brilliant-minded Plutarch Heavensby (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), the bold and angry Johanna (Jena Malone) and the intense golden-haired wunderkind Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin). Each add to an already rich tapestry of characters and prove The Hunger Games offers a lot more than a love triangle and a dystopian perspective before the heavy action begins.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a darker, denser film than the original. It broadens the audiences’ perspective of the world the film is set in, and it expands the roles of many of its characters. Despite a sluggish first half, the dimmer colors in District 12 and the glitz and glimmer of The Capitol both shine on Blu-ray. Grab a copy of the flick if you get a chance.

You can pre-order The Hunger Games: Catching Fire over at Amazon.

Best Special Feature:
The popularity of Suzanne Collins’ YA series has led to a phenomenal box office intake for the first two films in Lionsgate’s franchise. Because of this, the studio put plenty of effort into the Catching Fire Blu-ray release, from putting out a release with an intuitive menu screen and HD picture, to putting together a slew of extras meant to entice those fans who are really, really into the flick.

After perusing past the "Divergent – Sneak Peek," you’ll reach the real bonus features. There’s really not a ton of extras on the disc, but that’s because Lionsgate Home Entertainment put together a vast nine-part documentary about Catching Fire called "Surviving The Game." The first segment describes how Catching Fire came together. Further segments look at the massive undertaking that was the visual effects, the casting of the new characters, filming in Atlanta and Hawaii, dealing with wardrobe changes, and a lot of random other things, including seeing Katniss shoot imaginary arrows. It’s pretty lengthy, but if you don’t want to miss any of the details, you should just roll with it.

Other Bonus Features:
"Divergent- Sneak Peek"
Deleted Scenes
Audio Commentary

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