It’s time for a new D&D Mixed Review. This week myself (Derek), Denis and our special guest/Hunger Games expert Robynne, from her blog The Book Worm Chronicles, will be looking at the penultimate Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part One.
As always the review will be split into four categories; PLOT, PERFORMANCES, PRODUCTION AND OVERALL FILM QUALITY. We’ll end the review with a score of SEE IN THEATRES, WAIT FOR RENTAL OR PASS.
Before we jump right in here’s an overview of what’s happening to the girl on fire.
Mockingjay picks up weeks after the events of the 75th Hunger Games, with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and her family living in a military complex in District 13. While she’s been healing from her wounds, the Districts of Panam have starting to fight back inspired by her act of defiance.
Soon after Katniss is brought to her old home of District 12 to survey the death and destruction that took place hours after the games ended. Now with motivation on her side she starts to work with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), Plutrach (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Finnick (Sam Claflin) and President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) in the rebellion against President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
However, after seeing her fellow games winner Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) Katnis makes his and the other winners recuse the main priority. The resistance start their play to rally the other districts to fighting back and creating a weakness in the capitals security.
While the other films might have been based around the Games themselves, Mockingjay is different as it focuses on the beginning of the resistance. Despite the film does a solid job of building to the narrative around this, while lacking much of the action of the past films. However, the lack of action allows for the film to go in different directions and focus more on the characters as we see more of Katniss’ and Gale’s relationship. Other sections just feel long as if the film was trying to stretch the plot out to the 2 hour mark. That being said it’s pretty well written and at time funny.
As Mockingjay is a first person novel, any of the scenes that didn’t include Katniss were not included in the book. But, these scenes made sense and added to the story. It filled in the blanks Katniss didn’t elaborate on, mostly because she was kept in the dark or wasn’t aware the events or conversations happened. The scenes added depth to the movie and the characters, showing Coins resistance toward Katniss when it’s obvious how the arena changed her and how the other Districts are influenced by Katniss when they are shown her propos.
Well, Well, Well. Now I’m second fiddle or third wheel or the spare Olsen twin. This is strange. Oh movie! So this is the first two parter in the Hunger Games trilogy and while I greatly expect the next film to be an all our war, this film took its time to show the development of the resistance and Katniss becoming the figurehead for the resistances propaganda. All in all I kinda wish the film kept going, it has a great pace and kept me interested in the next unfolding situation. Unlike other two part final series entries, this one felt like it had a strong and powerful narrative to present and it did it well.
Much like the past films this is the Jennifer Lawrence show as much of the film is spent looking at her face (not a criticism). That being said their are some solid performances from the other cast members including the solid but short work of the late Seymour Hoffman. Others that stand out over the film are Woody Harrison and Elizabeth Banks who share little time on screen. The only one who doesn’t really impress is Hemsworth who’s as flat as he’s been in these films.
While we spend a lot of time with Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson and Sam Clafin, we get to see a lot of character development and amazing performance by these actors and others. But, for me, Josh Hutcherson was the performance that took my breath away. It was heart breaking to see him going from the boy with the bread to the hijacked murderer, and each and every scene he was in I could not take my eyes off of him. He tugged at my heart strings, and brought back my frustration, sadness, and pity that Collins evoked from me while reading about my favourites characters descendant into a darkness he may not have been able to pull himself out of.
We had a few new comers that were all solid additions and the regulars all had great moments to showcase their own perspective and heartbreak over all the destruction that has occurred against the districts. But that all pairs in comparison to the quintessential cat of the film. This bitch is a scene stealer! Such a rocky and fiery personality kept me enthralled by the cat. Not since the cat in Alien or Sir Pounce in Game of Thrones has a cat so effortlessly taken my heart and filled it with kibbles and bits. Bravo Cat! Bravo!
Lets be honest, little things like fire effects have never been the franchise strong suit. That being said, Mockingjay is pretty good with it’s effects. The cinematography is effective with some shots having more depth then you’d expect, the best example being Katniss’ relive show at District 12 where the destruction of the city is hidden by a air ship which flies away to show the damage. Other nice touches come from the use of a song featured in the novels (and written by series Author Suzanne Collins) called the Hanging Tree. The song starts as a simple repeating hymn but evolves into this dynamic melody echoed and chanted by rebels going into battle. This might be the best scene in the whole film.
Whoever decided to include the song The Hanging Tree the way the movie did, deserves all the awards that they can win for a score. It was a crucially important part for me in the novel, and was portrayed much better than I thought it would in the movie. The power behind the simple ballad for Katniss, and the other Districts, is wonderfully world shattering in a good way that couldn’t have been any better. The design of the cameras that Katniss’ group carries with them are also much better than what I was thinking when they were described in the books, and gave them a futuristic look and also kept them realistic.
The film had like 3 locations. Well maybe 5 and they were all shot well and managed to include a lot of fairly graphic violence and murder in a PG-13 movie. Yeah their was that song which was good. Annnnnnndddd…sorry I’m still distracted by the cat. I mean it followed a flashlight with such intensity. Bravo! Tango! Foxtrot!
In the end, Mockingjay is a solid film. It has good production, some great performances from solid actors and some nice touches that’ll make the film more memorable to viewers, but it’s also plagued by the fact it’s only half of a story that’ll be told next year. If you’re a fan of the books, then this is a no brainer, but more general audiences might find this one more slow and boring due to it’s lack of action or large set pieces. But that doesn’t stop this from being a good movie. SEE IN THEATRE.
Mockingjay honestly blew me right out of the water, and exceeded any expectations I had as someone who loved the book and went to see the movie. It kept me on the edge of my seat, had me on an emotional roller coaster from start to finish, and lived up to the book that I couldn’t put down. If you are against reading the book, which you shouldn’t be and if you haven’t bought it than shame on you, it’s defiantly a movie that shouldn’t be passed on and should be SEEN IN THEATRES.
Mockingjay Part 1 of 2 was a solid film. I enjoyed it as a film but I will say it’s not a series that really connects with me all that much, but I still recognize that of all the teen fiction films that I have seen and discussed with my therapist this one was the best among them. A great female lead and a great plot that works, unlike Maze Runner, or Divergent, or Vampire Academy, or any of the seven thousand adaptations that seem to just bleed money from people. But thats a discussion for another day, if you have to watch any films series based on a book series, watch these. SEE IN THEATRES cause that cat is totes amazeballs!
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One was produced by Lionsgate and Color Force. The film is distributed by Lionsgate.