The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 Blu-ray Review
I’m not the biggest fan of YA adaptations since they all seem to focus on the same thing; an innocent teenager isn’t allowed to be themselves because of mean, old grownups. There are only so many times you can suffer through that before it gets tiresome. So I wasn’t the biggest fans of the first Hunger Games movie because the schtick had already worn thin and the kids fighting kids thing was done better in BATTLE ROYALE. CATCHING FIRE was pretty much more of the same and by the time MOCKINJAY PART 1 came along, I was indifferent to the series. So much to my surprise, THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 was actually a nice departure for the series and now my hopes and excitement for PART 2 are officially peaked. I’m anxious to see how this thing ends (but not anxious enough to actually read the book).
After destroying the games in CATCHING FIRE and being rescued by Plutarch and President Coin, Katniss now finds herself caught in a Civil War between the rebels of District 13 and the Capitol. With some pushing, Katniss agrees to become “the mockingjay”; a symbol of hope for the citizens of Panem and inspiration for them to stand up and rebel against the Capitol. To combat Katniss’s new image, President Snow decides to do a similar thing with Peeta, through the use of torture and brainwashing. This puts Katniss in a terrible position where she must constantly decide between supporting the rebels and trying to save Peeta.
While the first two movies were about teenagers being abused by the system, Mockinjay is more about a scared, young woman being caught between two warring, powerful leaders. Katniss is no longer the lone wolf challenging authority, in many ways, she is the authority and it’s clearly a role she’s not comfortable with or able to deal with very well. Many of the characters she comes in contact with in Mockingjay are seasoned warriors that have been fighting their whole life. Katniss just happened to win the Hunger Games. But she’s someone the people of Panem look up to and rely on for inspiration and watching Katniss come to deal with that newfound responsibility was fascinating.
Of course, we know what a YA adaptation can look like with a lesser actress, so much of what makes the Hunger Games films successful is the greatness of Jennifer Lawrence. I’m about as J-Law-ed out as the next guy, but as I watch her in these films, I’m constantly impressed with how well she goes from powerful leader to vulnerable daughter/sister/pseudo-girlfriend with such ease. Director Francis Lawrence really relies on Jennifer Lawrence to carry the film and she does so admirably. Josh Hutcherson also shines in Mockingjay and is finally able to do something other than follow Katniss around like a puppy dog. And of course, the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman is always a joy to watch, reminding us once again of what a great actor we lost last year.
If you watched the first two films, then there’s no reason to stop now. But the days of actual Hunger Games are over and our heroes are now in the midst of a Civil War. Personally, I like this storyline better and I find myself more interested in these characters now than I was when they were in the Games. Part 1 got us off to a good start, so hopefully Part 2 can keep the momentum going.
Video: THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 looks beautiful on Blu-ray.
Audio: The audio was fine.
Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson: A run of the mill commentary with interesting tidbits here and there.
The Mockingjay Lives: The Making of Mockingjay Part 1 (2:14:19): Broken up into seven parts, these featurettes give a lot of information from visual effects to cast to costumes. If you are a fan of the film these are definitely worth watching.
Straight from the Heart: A Tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman (11:03): a tribute to the late actor.
Songs of Rebellion: Lorde on Creating the Soundtrack (8:10): This is about the music in the film.
Deleted Scenes (11:18): A handful of scenes that were rightfully cut from the film.
Lorde “Yellow Flicker Beat” Music Video (4:05)
Sneak Peak: Insurgent