Best Blu-rays of the Month: 'The Hunger Games,' 'Jaws' and 'The Walking Dead'

Best Blu-rays of the Month: 'The Hunger Games,' 'Jaws' and 'The Walking Dead'

Aug 28, 2012

Streaming or downloading movies is a convenient way to rent a flick even though the picture and sound quality are not as good as Blu-ray, but those fun behind-the-scenes extras are not usually available digitally. To keep you spinning physical discs for years to come, studios are including innovative and often immersive bonus features on the DVDs and Blu-rays of your favorite movies and TV shows. Read all about this month's best extras served up on shiny silver platters that take you beyond the feature presentations.


The Hunger Games

Audiences can't get enough of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her fight for survival after volunteering in the teen-vs.-teen death match in this first movie based on Suzanne Collins' young-adult novels. The blockbuster has already earned over $407 million at the box office and arrived on DVD and Blu-ray on August 18 with high expectations. The good news is that the supplements will satisfy even the most rabid fans.

Best Extras:

"The World Is Watching: Making The Hunger Games": This eight-part documentary clocks in at 122 minutes (!) and covers everything from casting to development to production. Included are candid interviews with Lawrence, Woody Harrelson and more. There is also a discussion about keeping the film a PG-13 rating.

"Game Maker: Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games Phenomenon": The author and Scholastic Books' David Leviathan discuss Collins' work.

"Letter from the Rose Garden": This one is kind of strange. Donald Sutherland reads a detailed three-page letter that he wrote to director Gary Ross about how Sutherland felt about his character. If you think fans read too much into the book or this website goes overboard reporting every casting update for the sequel, drink in Sutherland's looniness.

Extra Extras:

Also included on the DVD and Blu-ray is a featurette on the design of the command center called "Controlling the Games," an interview with Ross by film critic Elvis Mitchell, the entire two-minute propaganda film shown in snippets during the reaping in the movie, and a marketing gallery with trailers and photos.

Blu-ray Bonuses:

The one Blu-ray exclusive is the very short "Preparing for the Games: A Director's Journey" in which Ross discusses adapting the screenplay from the source material. The BD is also equipped with sound calibration tools and apps for smartphones that are not included on the DVD.

 

Jaws

Movies.com devoted a whole week to celebrating the Blu-ray debut of this 1975 Steven Spielberg classic that invented the idea of the summer blockbuster event film. The killer-shark sensation has been lovingly digitally remastered and fuller restored for near flawless video and immersive sound. One thing's for sure—you're going to need a bigger boat for all the extras Universal included here. Most have been ported over from previous DVD editions, but there are new goodies to take a bite out of.

Best Extras:

"The Making of Jaws": This 123-minute documentary was originally included on the Laser Disc, but is still exhaustive and entertainingly informative. It includes many interviews with the cast and crew as well as author Peter Benchley. There is lots of behind-the-scenes footage sandwiched in between.

"Jaws Archives": This collection of storyboards, production photos and promotional art is fun to take in, especially the material made to promote the film internationally.

Deleted Scenes and Outtakes: For a film as epic and game changing as Jaws surely was, you're going to want to see everything that didn't make the final cut.

Extra Extras:

This Blu-ray debut also includes a vintage British from-the-set featurette produced in 1974 and the original theatrical trailer.

Blu-ray Bonuses:

The Shark Is Still Working: The Impact and Legacy of Jaws: This fantastic new feature-length documentary is the Orca-sized new edition for this Blu-ray debut. The doc can be watched sequentially or individually in 10 parts and features interviews with other big-name directors who were inspired by Jaws, including Kevin Smith and M. Night Shyamalan. This is an in-depth look at the movie's making and the filmmakers have culled lots of personal footage and photographs that have not been seen before. If you want to, say, learn what happened to the original Bruce sharks used in the movies, watch this.

"Jaws: The Restoration": This is only eight minutes long, but it's worth watching to see the time and care that went into getting Jaws ready for its HD debut.

 

 

The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season

This season has police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his small group of zombie-apocalypse survivors holding fort at a rural Georgia farmhouse where they deal with many internal crises as the undead roam the countryside surrounding them. This epic survivalist show based on the comic book series features better zombie special effects than you'll see in any movie. To celebrate, there is a limited edition Blu-ray set that comes encased in a zombie head with a screwdriver through its eye.

Best Extras:

Webisodes: Collected here are the six webisodes—a total runtime of about 20 minutes—that aired during the second season that follow a side story about a woman who wakes up in her car following an accident and realizes that her children are gone and that zombiegeddon has started.

Deleted scenes: There are eight scenes included here, but the one to watch is the 13-minute alternate opening, which was ultimately thought to be too confusing. Still, you get to see what happens right after the CDC explosion at the end of season one and what direction season two could have gone.

"The Ink Is Alive:" There's nothing better than messing with rabid fanboys that debate, dissect and argue away the joy in, well, everything. Here Robert Kirkman talks about screwing with their minds by killing off main characters from the comic book—just because he can.

"Live and Let Die:" A companion piece to "The Ink Is Alive," this one discusses why the show had to stray from the comic book storyline, resulting in some characters that live longer on the show than in print and vice versa.

"All the Guts Inside:" There are lots of short featurettes about specific sequences on the show, but this one about the special effects team creating realistic innards for the zombie dissection in the first episode is of particular interest.

Extras Extras:

Also included on the DVD and Blu-ray are behind-the-scenes featurettes on the show's music, burning-barn scene, gruesome sound effects, wardrobe, and well scene with the disturbing bloated zombie. There are also five commentary tracks, a featurette on Andrea's evolution as a fighter, and an EPK featurette called "The Cast on Season Two."

Blu-ray Bonuses:

There are no HD exclusives on the discs themselves, but if you want to buy this season encased in the grisly zombie-head case, you need to buy it on Blu-ray.

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