The Hunger Games The 800-lb. gorilla of DVD/BD releases starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson hits shelves on Aug. 18. If you've been living under a rock, you probably still know what it's about: in a dystopian future after a cataclysmic war, America is now known as Panem, and divided into 12 "Districts" ruled by a central Capitol. Law dictates that each district must send two teenagers to an annual bloodsport known as the Hunger Games, where they vie to the death with only one winner. Director Gary Ross does a pretty good job bringing the book to screen; the shaky cam is often unnecessary (do we really need to see people on their porch in cinema verite?) but Jennifer Lawrence's acting chops give the story a heft lacking in that other franchise that shall not be named. Extras: An 8-part making-of documentary, interview with Ross, featurettes on the books, the creation of the control room, and the filmmakers’ reasons for creating new scenes not in the book (DVD/BD); the BD adds an additional feature that looks at how three key scenes from the book to the screen.
The Raid: Redemption It's hard to believe nobody was injured during the making of this film. Indonesian newcomer Iko Uwais brings his brand of martial arts to the big screen: pencak silat, which looks as damaging as it sounds. The story is this: a SWAT team in Jakarta is tasked with taking out an evil druglord holed up in the penthouse of his apartment building--but when they get locked in with no outside help, only a few will survive each floor on the way up to get him. The violence is unrelenting, the plot moves fast, the dialogue is minimal, and it all adds up to an awesomely fun time (not, however, for the faint of heart). Extras: Director commentary, 6 video blogs from the set, featurette on the music by Mike Shinoda, a bunch of featurettes on filming the fight scenes and a TV ad (DVD/BD).
New on Blu
Jaws This iconic horror classic comes to high def for the first time fully restored from 35mm and with 7.1 surround, and you've never seen this movie look so good. No question it's a masterpiece of filmmaking: even 37 years after its theatrical release, Steven Spielberg's breakout movie still chills and thrills. Now in high def, the colors are brighter, lines crisper, and though it naturally will have imperfections, the hard work done on the transfer clearly shows Even more amazing is the 7.1 DTS Master Audio conversion--you hear every creak of the boat and slap-slapping of the water. Extras: The best of note here is the fascinating, in-depth documentary The Shark Is Still Working, which played at a festival in 2009 but never made it to video--unfortunately it's in 4:3 SD. The only new HD extra is a look at the painstaking restoration process; the rest is previously released deleted scenes/outtakes, a Jaws archive, theatrical trailer and a few other things.