Review: 'The Hunger Games' DVD/Blu-Ray Special Features Friday 10 August, 2012

Since we couldn’t make it to the fan site screening in Los Angeles, Lionsgate was generous enough to send us a copy of the DVD so that we could check out all the special features and let you know just what you can expect when you get your very own Hunger Games DVD or Blu-ray on August 18!

The special features discussed in this review are the “standard” special features that will be on every DVD/Blu-ray. If you want more, Wal-Mart and Target are both offering exclusive versions that contain some extra features (click the links to compare).

I (Savanna) tried to make this review as spoiler-free as possible, but if you’d prefer knowing absolutely nothing about the special features, then stop reading now! If you just want to know whether or not you should go out and buy the DVD, the answer is yes. It’s worth it for the special features alone, all of which are laid out below.

Game Maker: Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games Phenomenon
The World is Watching: Making The Hunger Games
Letters from the Rose Garden
Controlling the Games
A Conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell
Propaganda Film
Marketing Gallery

Game Maker: Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games Phenomenon
This is the first feature on Disc 2 and, fittingly, it takes us back to the beginning. Scholastic’s David Levithan, Lionsgate’s Alli Shearmur, Nina Jacobson, and a host of cast members and other experts discuss the origins of The Hunger Games and why it’s so different from other works of YA literature. Because I’ve been so heavily involved in the Hunger Games fandom for so long, there wasn’t a lot of new information here, but it was still fun to watch and will definitely appeal to fans who might not know as much about what inspired Suzanne Collins to write the series.

The World is Watching: Making The Hunger Games
This is, without a doubt, the highlight of the special features disc. “The World is Watching” is basically a self-contained, eight-part documentary that details every step of the making of the movie, from casting and choosing locations to recording the score and choreographing the stunts. I especially enjoyed learning more about the physical training that the tributes underwent, as well as Gary Ross’s script-writing process and how he collaborated with Suzanne Collins. It was also incredibly cool to see exactly how the digital sets, tracker jackers, and muttations were created.

Letters from the Rose Garden
Remember that three-page email that Donald Sutherland supposedly sent to Gary Ross after being cast as Snow? Yeah. That actually happened. And we get to hear Donald read the entire thing in “Letters from the Rose Garden.” To say that his letter is brilliant would be the understatement of the century. If you weren’t already fascinated by Panem’s evil president, you will be after this. In his letter, Donald expounds upon Snow’s role in the series, the nature of power, Snow’s relationship with power, and why Katniss is “more dangerous than Joan of Arc.” He also shares his interpretation of Snow’s rose obsession and explains — with some help from Gary — why the rose garden scenes were added to the script. I was already a fan of Donald Sutherland, but this feature made me love him even more. He has such a deep understanding of Snow that it’s mind-boggling (and a little scary), and his passion for the series and all it stands for is truly palpable.

Controlling the Games
Those of you who don’t like to see the science behind “movie magic” may want to avoid this feature, but I totally ate it up! “Controlling the Games” takes us behind the scenes of the Game Center and includes interviews with Gary Ross, Wes Bentley, Sheena Duggal (visual effects supervisor), and Philip Messina (production designer). They explain why the creation of the control room — which we never get to see in the book — was essential and also talk about the challenge of filming actors in an environment that is almost 100% green screened. To quote Wes Bentley: “We were having to work with nothing!” We also get to see exactly how the techs’ holographic boards were constructed and used.

A Conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell
This is, quite literally, a conversation between Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell, a well-known film critic (although, to be honest, I had never heard of him before watching this!). Their conversation covers a wide range of topics: Katniss’s character evolution, heroes vs. superheroes, what drew Gary to the project in the first place, and more. This is probably the least interesting of the special features, but it still provides a lot of insight into Gary’s thought processes and the reasons why he approached the story the way he did.

Propaganda Film
If you were intrigued by the tiny glimpse of the propaganda film that we got to see before District 12’s reaping (“War…terrible war”), then you’ll definitely want to make the full-length version — which is just under two minutes long — your first stop when you sit down to check out the special features. Narrated by President Snow, the film starts out as a gritty documentary outlining the devastation caused by the first uprising, when the 13 districts of Panem rebelled against the Capitol and “brother turned on brother until nothing remained.” Glossing over the destruction of District 13, Snow goes on to describe “the peace” and the creation of the Hunger Games as idealized images of frolicking children and tributes with sculpted bodies fill the screen. I just love that.

Marketing Gallery
The marketing gallery is exactly what it sounds like: a place to house all the theatrical trailers, posters, and official photos. The photos include high-quality stills from the film as well as behind-the-scenes photos from the set. Some you’ll have seen before, others will be totally new! If you’re sentimental like me, you’ll love re-watching all the trailers; it’s amazing to take a look back and see just how far we’ve come!

To sum things up: You will love the special features. The only thing I found disappointing was the lack of deleted scenes (in other words: there aren’t any), but we learned months ago that Gary Ross would likely not be including any cut material, so I was prepared.

For even more details, check out the DVD/Blu-ray reviews by our friends at Welcome to District 12, Victor’s Village, The Hob, HG Movie Site, Mockingjay.net, and Down with the Capitol!


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6 Comments

  • lindsay says:

    The special features sound fun and all, but totally not worth the price tag that comes along with them! I usually only skim through all the interviews and what not anyways, so I just opted to rent the DVD. Luckily, it was available from the Blockbuster@Home service through my Dish account, so I didn’t have to wait in the long lines for a copy on the much anticipated release date. My officemate at Dish tried to snatch a DVD on the night it debuted and she said she almost lost a finger fighting the crowd!

    • Savanna says:

      Hopefully most/all of the special features will eventually make their way online so you can see them! Some of them are definitely worth watching, like “Letters from the Rose Garden,” but I totally understand the price thing. I’m really surprised that DVDs are still so expensive, to be honest!

  • reDD says:

    fab movie


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