The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 4K Ultra HD Bluray
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is presented on 4K UHD with a 2160p transfer in 2.40:1 (kind of interestingly, the 4K UHD version does not "expand" to 1.78:1 for the actual games sequences, though I didn't notice any problematic framing as a result). This disc was a bit of a challenge to get to load, despite it being a replacement for a disc that resolutely refused to load. Right off the bat, I got a "software update" needed from my Samsung UHD player, but decided to try to play the disc first. It wouldn't load (though interestingly this time I got a different error message than with the first disc). After doing the software update, I reinserted the disc and it seemed to load, though I was ultimately greeted by the dreaded "no HDMI signal" message, though the opening menu music was playing. I decided to press enter to see if ostensibly starting the film would do anything, and got a nice totally black screen for my troubles. I then pressed stop, exiting to the player's menu, and tried "play" again, and only after two more trials, ultimately deciding on "no" when the "resume playback?" screen appeared was I finally able to get to a viewable main menu. The good news is, once I actually got there, the film booted and played without any problems.
While Catching Fire was finished at a 4K DI, perhaps due to the fact that it was filmed instead of digitally captured and also because so much of the film is so relentlessly dark (as in dimly lit), the uptick in detail levels on this new UHD version is surprisingly (to me anyway) minimal. It's certainly noticeable in some of the extreme close-ups employed, where even in heavily graded scenes elements like facial pores have a new immediacy, but overall there is less to write home about here in my estimation over detail and fine detail than there is some of the nice new tones that are introduced courtesy of HDR. The cool grading of the long opening swaths of the film have really nice interstitial blues that aren't that apparent in the 1080p version, and in neatly designed sequences like the party scene that's bathed in purple (from both a production design and lighting standpoint), there are whole new ranges of tones apparent. Both the tropical jungle scenes and some of the dark blue nighttime scenes really don't offer substantially more shadow detail than the 1080p version. As with some other 4K UHD presentation, some of the CGI, notably the flames that engulf Katniss and Peeta look much more artificial in this version. The grain field is quite fine throughout the presentation and resolves naturally. Some of our members are reporting banding or posterizing issues with the new replacement discs, but I noticed no such issues with my new disc.
The 1080p Blu-ray of Catching Fire had a great sounding DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, but it's topped, albeit subtly at times, by this disc's Dolby Atmos track. There are a number of standout moments now, though some of them are quite subtle. Listen for example to the snap of the twig as Gale meets Katniss by the lake early in the film—it's not just clearly in the right channels now, it seems to hover overhead, just as it might if you were in the scene. Some of the panning noises, especially in action oriented scenes, have a new immediacy as well. The low end on this track is also very impressive, with some huge rushing onslaughts of LFE that easily rattle the floorboards. Dialogue, effects and score are all blended together artfully, with excellent prioritization.
4K Bluray details
Codec: HEVC / H.265
Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1, 1.43:1
English: Dolby Atmos
English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
English, English SDH, Spanish
4K Ultra HD
Two-disc set (1 BD-100, 1 BD-50)
Slipcover in original pressing
4K Blu-ray: Region free
2K Blu-ray: Region A (B, C untested)