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Mockingjay, Part One (2014)


 
Picking up right where the second saga in The Hunger Games trilogy left off, the first part of what was adapted as the final and epic conclusion, was again something I dawdled seeing. As is my usual standard, I picked up a DVD on its release week and these many months later, on the eve of “part 2” and its debut, I finally sat down to watch this one.  

The games have destroyed Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). She is shattered and broken by what she saw and did. Leaving Peeta behind has been her undoing. This is why when she recoups in District 13, she desperately awaits news of Peeta’s survival. No news comes. What does come is 13’s President Coin (Julianne Moore), wanting to recruit Katniss as their Mockingjay, the face of their revolution.  

Together with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Katniss sparks a change in the surviving districts that incites revolution in all their hearts. Joining their fight is the equally broken Finnick (Sam Claflin) and a handful of 13’s residents including newcomer Cressida (Natalie Dormer), who is hired to produce Katniss’ propo’s, and then there is Effie (Elizabeth Banks). Returning, she follows Katniss around to again ensure she looks the part. Everything is going according to plan until a news broadcast reveals that Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is in fact, still alive and he’s being used as President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capital’s weapon against Katniss. 
 
 
 
As every review I’ve written for this series documents, I enjoy a love-hate relationship with this series. The premise of this is so frightening and to see the act of young people fighting just for a hierarchy’s personal pleasure never sat well with me. After reading one book and seeing three movies, my opinion that the films are better than the books remains unchanegd. The story here is no different. It’s freaking fantastic and could even be the best in the franchise to date (at this writing, “part two” is still a few hours away so I’ve not had a chance to see it).  

Everything about this production is blockbuster movie perfection. There is fantabulous costuming and no matter my personal opinion, the layers to this world-building are intricate and complex. That’s to say nothing of the cast which is sensational. I really liked all of the new faces and the actors who played them including Cressida and Coin. The leading men continue to impress though I was most delighted to feel more about Gale in this film; he’d been too insignificant for me in the prior outings. Here, he’s a living, breathing character who I genuinely felt a roller-coaster of emotions for, not the least of which was his unrequited love. Then there is Josh as Peeta, who gives a startling performance despite his limited screen time. 

All of these performances are anchored by the supremely talented Jennifer Lawrence. The girl again proves she can take origin material and make this character something altogether different. Her Katniss summons so much more than Book Katniss ever did. The movies have gone through different directors and writers, but through it all, they somehow each compliment their counterparts, strengthening as they move along. The filmmaking in this is unusually effective. Overlapping many scenes are voiceovers and sharp cuts to the tense, action scenes unfolding yet they're all used to the great advantage of “Story,” or in other words, the editing and filming of this is, plainly put, dazzling.  


Though more could be said, the thrust of everything I have to say circles back to one thing: fans of this franchise are missing out if you’re putting off seeing these films. I had nearly reached the halfway mark in the book when watching this (which is approximately what this film does span) and was innately impressed with this both as a film and an adaptation. Everything was molded and shaped into this, and because of that, I think these deserve any and all adoration they receive as versions of a universally loved young adult series. All that said and I’ve really said nothing everyone else hasn’t said a million times prior. But know this: Mockingjay is an excellent book-to-film adaptation and if you’re not into reading, it’s a great production on its own. Only be warned, if you’re not a theater goer, don’t watch this one yet. That ending is sure to not only make you tear up, but startle you back to reality when you realize the end is as shocking as it is quiet.  

(Violence and the illusion to torture are the primary reasons for the PG13 rating; there are multiple casualties as districts make a stand and are murdered by Capitol soldiers.)
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Rissi
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6 comments:

  1. Though Mockingjay is my least favorite book of the Hunger Games trilogy, this film was a great adaptation (as the first two were...some of the best, if not the best, book-to-film adaptations I've ever seen!). And I'm looking forward to seeing the second part sometime soon, I hope. :)

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    1. I agree, Kristin! This adaptation was fabulous! As you say, these have been some of THE best book-to-screen adaptations the film industry boasts (though I never did read Catching Fire I suspect the same can be said of it). I feel like this film in particular was one of the most powerful.

      Enjoy "part 2" if/when you see it. I thought it was amazing! :)

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  2. I just rewatched this in the double MJ feature, and I agree, it was really good. The casting for Mockingjay was just EPIC. Like, I really cannot think of a single character who could have been cast better. I like that in the movie, we are able to see the stuff going on in the Capitol and other districts, where in the book it's such a limited scope. Of course, there are a few things that I would have liked to see in the movie, but I guess that is just how it is when doing a book-movie adaptation, some things need to go ;)

    Now, you obviously must go see MJ2 ASAP. I have seen it twice, because I clearly have problems, but it was SO GOOD. Even better the second time, when I was able to see some of the smaller nuances that I'd missed the first time around. I cannot WAIT to read your thoughts on it!!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you feel these are excellent as well, Shannon; I'm constantly impressed by this series as films! Like you, I cannot seem to talk enough about the cast... it's wonderful. The producers assembled the ideal group. :)

      I have since seen "part 2" and 100% agree with you, Shannon! It's SO GOOD! I'll probably wait for the DVD, but I also can see where it'd be even better or as good a second time around! Thank you so much for reading this review and your kind words. I'm getting ready to publish my thoughts on the finale as we speak! :)

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  3. I'm currently reading the first book and I'm just zooming through it so excited to get done with all the books. I'm excited to see the movies once I get done too! It looks so good though! :)
    ~Ellie;P
    www.uniquelyyou1.blogspot.com

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    1. Yay! Hope you enjoy, Ellie. I thought these story's as films are wonderfully produced and acted. Everything comes together to perfection. Bravo to all the filmmakers! :)

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