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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/6/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/6/2015
The Harry Potter series brought a lot of things to the world of entertainment. The most important thing is that it got a whole generation of kids to get excited about reading. It all but created what we think of as the modern Young Adult novel genre and it set a template for fantasy novels which many, many books would follow. (It's amazing how many children have learned that they have a larger destiny!) Of course, the Harry Potter movies also created a trend of novels from this genre being brought to the screen. Unfortunately, the final Harry Potter book was divided into two films when it became a movie. Was it a long book? Yes. But, this also felt like a cash grab. The Twilight series followed suit, and now the finale of The Hunger Games has also joined this group. Is this a good way to start off finishing off the series?
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 opens following the events of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), who had been fighting in The Hunger Games, created a sensation by sabotaging the Games and revealing to the world that not all was as it seemed. Following this, Katniss is rescued by a faction lead by Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore). However, Katniss' partner, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is captured by The Capitol. As the story begins, Katniss is adjusting to life in District 13, living in an underground bunker. Fortunately, her mother (Paula Malcomson) and sister (Willow Shields) are here, as well as her old friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth). Coin and Heavensbee urge Katniss to go out amongst the ruined Districts, which have been bombed by The Capitol, in order to make a series of propaganda videos. However, Katniss is shocked to see Peeta in a series of videos from The Capitol. Katniss urges Coin to have Peeta rescued, while she decides to embrace her role as The Mockingjay, the symbol of the rebellion.
My feeling about The Hunger Games series were made clear in my review forThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire -- The movies have their moments, but it's very difficult to get past how derivative they are. The second film was an improvement over the first, as the action sequences were well done, but it was still nothing special. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 changes the formula of the series, storywise. As Katniss has exposed some of the truth behind The Hunger Games, the movie no longer focuses on the Games. This movie is concerned with the battle between the rebels and The Capitol. The rebels want to end the reign of tyranny overseen by President Snow (Donald Sutherland). And while Snow's forces have been decimating the outer Districts, the rebels are busy attempting to let the downtrodden know that there is hope. While this is going on, Katniss is attempting to adjust to life in the bunker. She's torn between being a full-blown rebel or simply blending into the crowd.
As noted earlier, Harry Potter set the standard for these films. It's interesting to note thatHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 have something in common -- they are both very boring. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the film infamous for the fact that Harry, Ron, and Hermione go camping for the bulk of the film. (To be fair, the movie does end with a bang.) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 isn't quite as redundant, but it does get bogged down in political discussions and arguments, and fails to bring a truly cohesive or interesting story. There are a few action sequences, the pinnacle of which is a scene in which Katniss must make her way to safety in the bunker, but they simply aren't gripping. The scenes in the bunker, make us truly appreciate the action of The Hunger Games themselves.
The worst part of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is that it thinks that it's ending on a shocking note, but it doesn't. The ending is meant to play as a teaser for the final film, so it's not to feel complete, but it's especially anti-climactic. Only those who are truly devoted to the series will watch this and say, "Oh no! I can't wait a year to find out what happens!" Most everyone else will think, "OK. Everything will probably be all right." Director Francis Lawrence has given the movie a good look, and there's no doubt that a lot of work goes into creating the world of The Hunger Games, but there is simply no tension here. This is a shame, as the movie sports a fantastic cast, and given all of the other roles and red carpets appearances where we've seen Jennifer Lawrence, it's nice to see her as the dowdy Katniss. Perhaps the final film will pull out all of the stops and be the big adventure which we non-fans have been looking for.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 features a dystopian society which I believe, but a bag of cat which I don't on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains a 1080p HD transfer. The image is very sharp and clear, showing on overt grain and no defects from the source material. Unlike the other The Hunger Games films, this one doesn't boast many bright colors, but the tones here look natural and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good and the picture has great depth. The Disc boasts a Dolby Atmos 7.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a very muscular track which delivers abundant stereo and surround effects. These effects are nicely detailed and there are many moments where we can pick out individual sounds from the front and rear channels. In addition, the subwoofer effects are bold and provides very strong bass action.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 Blu-ray Disc offers a nice selection of extra features. We begin with an Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson. “The Mockingjay Lives: The Making of Mockingjay – Part 1” is a feature-length documentary which is made up of 8 parts. It focuses on nearly every facet of the film's production and offers comments from the cast and creative team, as well as an abundance of on-set footage. The late actor is remembered in “Straight From the Heart: A Tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman”. The music of the film is examined in "Songs of Rebellion: Lorde on Curating the Soundtrack”, which then leads into the MUSIC VIDEO for "Yellow Flicker Beat. The extras are rounded out by a reel of DELETED SCENES.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long