Blu-ray review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ★★★★★

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The Hunger Games will be going down in history as one of the biggest film adaptation franchises. After the huge success of the first film, many wondered if the second installment, which comes to Blu-ray and DVD this week in the UK, could ever compare. Those people need not worry; this cinematic offering is bigger, better, and grittier than the first.

The repercussions of the 74th Hunger Games begin to unfold in the opening scenes. Katniss Everdeen, played by the lovable Oscar winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, has ignited a passion across the districts for rebellion against the Capitol. In refusing their sole victor, Katniss and Peeta Mellark have inadvertently waged a war against President Snow and his rigid social hierarchy. This film is darker, with Snow attempting to eradicate the beacon of hope: Katniss Everdeen and the symbol of the Mockingjay.

We see more of what life is like in district 12, the mining town where everything is bleak, and everyone is starving. The suffering of the district is far more present than in the first film, as we witness the harsh brutality of the oppressors in action. Gale, played by the unavoidably handsome Liam Hemsworth, has some key scenes here that allow us to feel more emotionally attached to his character than before. Some of the most heart-rendering and weepy scenes in the film are those set in the districts, as Katniss and Peeta are forced to conduct their Victor’s tour, particularly their visit to District 11 – the home of their dead fellow tribute, Rue.

One of the best aspects of The Hunger Games as a franchise, is how it is so much more meaningful than which boy will end up with the girl. The love triangle is certainly present, but the political elements of the film take precedent. There’s also a great deal of focus on family, duty, and self-sacrifice – but for all the right reasons. This has been the real driving force of the narrative from the very beginning, when Katniss volunteered as tribute in place of her younger sister Prim.

It needs to be said here that Jennifer Lawrence’s performance of Katniss Everdeen is one that should not be undervalued. She is one of the most revered young Hollywood actresses today, and after her breath-taking performance in Catching Fire, she certainly deserves it. There are some difficult, highly dramatic and emotive scenes for her character and she handles them with such maturity. Lawrence is also renowned for her stance on body image and the media. When asked about her exercise routine, she replied ‘Today? Err, I ate French Fries and stayed in bed until 3’. It is great to see such a real young woman, unfiltered and unaffected by expectations, bringing attention to the issues of the industry – right from the heart of it.

The Games themselves are nastier than ever, with new characters thrown in the mix. The costumes and make-up for Katniss seem to have somehow surpassed the spectacular examples from the first film, Lawrence showing off her versatility in her look and appeal. As ‘The Girl on Fire’, of course, the flames remain her statement accessory. But even in the games – with no make-up and just a simple side braid – her character is as magnetic as ever.

The arena is vast and impressive, and the final scenes are some of the most incredible pieces of cinema that I have ever seen. I loved it so much and it really is one to enjoy in crystal-clear HD on Blu-ray.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), directed by Francis Lawrence, is released on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK by Lionsgate, Certificate 12.

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