The Hunger Games (Blu-ray) Criticize This! Pick of the Week – Based on Suzanne Collins’ popular book series, The Hunger Games is set in the distant future where each year twelve boys and twelve girls between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected to battle to their death in a televised event. When Katniss Everdeen’s much younger sister Primrose is called upon to enter the games, Katniss volunteers in her place. She’s taken to the Capitol with the other 23 contestants and is treated like royalty before being sent to the arena to kill or be killed. While I had originally expected The Hunger Games to be in the same league as other tween lit adaptations such as Twilight, it is a far superior cinematic endeavor and features a great script, cast, direction, and style and is one to definitely check out even though it’s been overhyped to death. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Wes Bentley, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, and Donald Sutherland all star. The Blu-ray is the recommended version for home viewing as it sports an amazing 1080p image transfer and a wild 7.1 DTS-HD sound mix. Special features include making-of featurettes, an interview with director Gary Ross, and a ton more. A digital copy of the film is included as well. Film **** Blu-ray ***** (out of 5 stars).
A Little Bit Zombie (Blu-ray) – A Little Bit Zombie is a horror-comedy about a man who gets bit by an infected mosquito and, as he begins to transform into a member of the living dead, struggles with his craving for brains so that he doesn’t disappoint his fiancée or friends. It’s an absolutely hysterical take on the genre, and with a solid script, cast, and production behind it, it’s sure to become a cult hit along the lines of Evil Dead or Dead Alive. I’ve watched it a few times now and with each viewing it gets better and better and I can’t recommend it enough to horror buffs. The Blu-ray release is stellar and is one I’m happy to have in my collection. Special features include audio commentary with director Casey Walker and actors Kristopher Turner and Shawn Roberts, making-of featurettes, and more. Film **** Blu-ray **** (out of 5 stars).
The Dictator (Blu-ray) – Dedicated to the memory of Kim Jong-il, The Dictator tells the story of General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen); the ruler of the fictional African nation Wadiya. When Aladeen gets into the nuclear weapons business, the UN calls upon him to come to New York City to go before a concerned committee. After he lands in the Big Apple, he’s intercepted and has his signature beard chopped off. Unrecognizable, he’s left on the streets to watch as an imposter tries to bring democracy to Wadiya. Of course things get silly as Aladeen tries to fit in as an American citizen and hilarity ensues. The Dictator succeeds at being shocking and amusing just as well as Borat did and is even funnier at times. It’s definitely not for everyone though so make sure you know what you’re getting into before you decide to watch. Anna Faris also stars. The Blu-ray comes with both the theatrical cut and a banned and uncut edition, which adds 15 minutes to the running time and is even more sick and over-the-top than the original. Special features include deleted and extended scenes. A regular DVD and digital copy are included as well. Film **** Blu-ray *** (out of 5 stars).
Chimpanzee (Blu-ray) – Disneynature’s latest documentary ventures into the African rain forest and follows a young chimp named Oscar as he’s separated from his family and then adopted by a top ranking male chimp (something Jane Goodall says happens, but not often). While Tim Allen’s narration is poorly written and a bit annoying, the film is beautifully shot and the underlying story that unfolds is mesmerizing for both kids and adults alike. This is a must-see on Blu-ray at home as it highlights the wonderful cinematography perfectly. Special features include a making-of featurette, music video, and more. A regular DVD of the film is included as well. Film *** Blu-ray **** (out of 5 stars).
Also available to Watch @ Home this week are the Blu-ray releases of The Aristocats, The Rescuers and The Rescuers: Down Under, Pocahontas and Pocahontas II, Halloween 4, and Halloween 5.
Top image: A scene from The Hunger Games. Courtesy Alliance Films.