This week: Katniss Everdeen takes aim for DVD and Blu-ray with a special Saturday release of "The Hunger Games," one of the biggest blockbusters of the year and one of the most anticipated home video releases after a month of underwhelming titles.
Also new this week is the unbelievably violent action of the Indonesian import "The Raid: Redemption" and Universal's Blu-ray debut of "Jaws" that has meticulously restored the Steven Spielberg classic.
'The Hunger Games'
Box Office: $407 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 85% Fresh
Storyline: Based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins, this sci-fi blockbuster stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, a girl living in the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem where 12 boys and 12 girls selected by lottery must fight to the death in the annual Hunger Games. When Katniss' sister is chosen in her district, Katniss volunteers to take her place and becomes a national celebrity in what is the ultimate survival reality show. Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz and Donald Sutherland co-star in this first of many "Hunger Games."
Extras! The best bonus features include a propaganda film, "Game Maker: Suzanne Collins and 'The Hunger Games' Phenomenon" and the Blu-ray exclusive "Preparing for the Games: A Director's Process" with Gary Ross.
We Say: The books sparked a worldwide phenomenon, but this movie all hangs on the shoulders of its Katniss … and Lawrence makes us believe. She is equal parts lethal archer and compassionate heroine, and if the filmmakers had cast a lesser actress this would be just another teen movie. With Lawrence, Katniss' fight for survival and her budding romantic triangle with Hutcherson and Hemsworth makes us hungry for the sequel.
'The Raid: Redemption'
Box Office: $4.1 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 83% Fresh
Storyline: This insanely violent Indonesian action film follows an elite special forces team as it storms a derelict apartment building in Jakarta to take out a ruthless gangster mastermind. What the soldiers walk into is several stories of hell as the building is well-guarded by its dangerous residents that all have an interest in protecting the big man in the penthouse.
Extras! Five behind-the-scenes featurettes lift the curtain on how some of the craziest sequences were filmed.
We Say: Unless you're allergic to subtitles, we see no reason why you shouldn't run out to buy "The Raid: Redemption" the day it comes out if you're a genre fan. The protracted, bone-crunching, head-exploding fight sequences and their tight choreography make this one of the best action films in years.
Box Office: $260 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% Fresh
Storyline: Steven Spielberg's quintessential summer blockbuster is about a giant great white shark that terrorizes the small New England island of Amity. Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) teams up with an oceanographer (Richard Dreyfuss) and a local fisherman (Robert Shaw) to go out on the ocean and face the killer "Carcharodon carcharias" head-on in order to protect the community.
Extras! Although the same DVD extras are ported over for this Blu-ray debut, it also includes the exclusive documentary "The Shark is Still Working: The Impact and Legacy of 'Jaws,'" which features a lot of never-before-seen fan footage as well as a short but informative featurette on the restoration process.
We Say: "Jaws" made a whole generation or two skittish about going in the water and birthed the idea of the summer blockbuster. There have been many inferior sequels and even worse killer-fish copycats, but none come close to this classic movie that made Spielberg a household name. The 4K restoration is flawless, as is the remastered 7.1 sound that really amps up the tension elicited by that classic John Williams score. This is not only a must-own Blu-ray but it justifies the existence of the disc format itself and shows why streaming just isn't going to cut it for big-fish titles like this.
Also New This Week:
"Juan of the Dead"
"New Jack City" Blu-ray
Watch This Week's DVDiva Episode