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LIONSGATE

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Francis Lawrence
Cast:
Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland
Writing Credits:
Peter Craig, Danny Strong

Synopsis:
Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.

Box Office:
Budget
$125,000,000.
Opening Weekend
$121,897,634 on 4151 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$337,135,885.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby 2.0
English Descriptive Audio
Spanish Dolby 5.1
English DTS Headphone X
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 123 min.
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 3/6/2015

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson
• “The Mockingjay Lives” Documentary
• Straight from the Heart” Featurette
• “Songs of Rebellion” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Music Video
• Previews
• DVD Copy


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 22, 2020)

Just as Warner Bros. split up the final Harry Potter novel into two films, Lionsgate took the same approach for their blockbuster Hunger Games franchise. For the third novel in that trilogy, we got two movies, and 2014’s Mockingjay Part 1 acted as the opening half.

In the strife-ridden nation of Panem, the rich rule, and they literally force the poor to fight to the death for their own entertainment. As two-time victor of these annual “Hunger Games”, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) becomes an icon to the downtrodden.

As rebellion against tyrannical President Snow (Donald Sutherland) grows, Katniss finds herself thrust into a leadership role. Though not entirely comfortable with this, Katniss goes along and acts as the face of the uprising.

To quash this threat, President Snow captures Peeta Melark (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss’ friend. This makes the mission more personal, as Katniss fights to free both Peeta and Panem as a whole.

Going into Mockingjay 1, I couldn’t claim to love the Hunger Games series, but I thought the first two movies worked – especially 2013’s Catching Fire. Whereas 2012’s Hunger Games felt a bit spotty, the second chapter opened up to more action and intrigue.

This left me semi-optimistic about Mockingjay 1. Of course, I knew it offered only half the story, so it would conclude with a cliffhanger, but I hoped it would deliver as much excitement and drama as Fire.

Alas, Mockingjay 1 dashed these dreams. Slow, plodding and downright dull, the movie brings two hours of exposition and little more.

Honestly, Mockingjay 1 just leaves me bored. Here’s my lasting impression of the “story” – spoiler alert?

Katniss: Peeta's dead!

Katniss: Peeta's not dead?

Katniss: Where's Peeta?

Katniss: Where's Peeta?

Katniss: Where's Peeta?

Katniss: They found Peeta!

Katniss: They rescued Peeta!

Katniss: Oy, Peeta's a mess!

Two hours of Jennifer Lawrence pouting does not a movie make, and Mockingjay 1 struggles to find an identity beyond “mope and cry”.

Of course, my description exaggerates, as we do get some semblance of a story here. We follow Katniss’ evolution and growth as a leader of the rebellion, with some violent action along the way.

The problem comes from both the amount of “shoe leather” on display and the monotony. Again, I get that this film acts only as the opening half of the final story, and as such, it carries the narrative burden.

One expects this section to mainly exist to set up climactic events in the next film. After all, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 performed the same function for that series as the precursor to Part 2.

However, Hallows 1 turned into a satisfying chapter in its own right, whereas Mockingjay 1 simply drags. At a little more than two hours, it seems at least twice as long as it needs to be, and maybe more, as I suspect the filmmakers could’ve given us all the necessary plot and character information in 30 to 45 minutes.

If you wonder why Lionsgate stretched Mockingjay into a pair of two-hour-ish movies instead of one two-hour, 45-minute film, I suspect the answer equals “money money money”. Perhaps those involved felt the material warranted twice as much running time as the first and second films.

However, all three of the original novels clocked in between 374 and 391 pages, so the book version of Mockingjay doesn’t seem to need more cinematic real estate than its predecessors. After the massive box office of the first two movies, I believe Lionsgate didn’t want to let go of the franchise with one movie, so we get the stretched-too-thin Mockingjay 1.

Given the high budgets these films require, I can’t blame Lionsgate for their attempts to churn as many ticket sales as possible. That doesn’t make the movie satisfying, however.

Even the actors seem tired of the franchise. So good in the first two films, Lawrence looks bored, and her attempts to bring out Katniss’s personality fall flat and seem forced.

Whether as a standalone or as an intro to Part 2, Mockingjay 1 disappoints. It fails to capitalize on the thrills from Catching Fire and turns into a dull extension of the franchise.


The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus A-

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a consistently solid presentation.

Sharpness worked well. Only the slightest sliver of softness ever affected wide shots, so the vast majority of the movie brought us terrific clarity and definition.

No signs of jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to materialize.

In terms of palette, Mockingjay 1 usually went with “Hollywood Standard” teal and orange. While that trend was predictable, I couldn’t complain about the replication, as the hues looked strong within their stylistic constraints.

Blacks came across as dark and tight, and shadows appeared smooth and easily discernible. All aspects of the image satisfied.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack added strong involvement to the experience. The soundfield presented an active and lively piece that constantly engaged the various speakers.

The film showed distinctive imagery throughout the movie that placed different auditory elements accurately within the spectrum and meshed them together nicely.

Music provided strong stereo imaging, and effects popped up from the appropriate locations. Quieter scenes displayed natural ambience, while the action set pieces involved engrossing and vibrant imaging.

Audio quality also seemed positive. Speech consistently appeared natural and crisp, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music sounded bright and dynamic as the disc neatly replicated the score.

Effects packed a nice wallop when necessary, as these elements seemed clean and distinct at all times. Bass response came across as deep and tight, and the low-end added a good layer of depth and oomph to the package. I thought this was a consistently impressive soundtrack.

As we shift to extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story, characters and adaptation areas, cast and performances, sets, locations and production design, effects and stunts, music, editing, photography, and connected domains.

Overall, Lawrence and Jacobson give us a strong commentary. While they come with some of the usual happy talk, they balance it with plenty of useful notes, and they reveal the slew of challenges they encountered, such as actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s mid-production death. Expect a good chat.

Entitled The Mockingjay Lives, a documentary runs two hours, 14 minutes, 19 seconds. It brings notes from Lawrence, Jacobson, publisher David Levithan, producer Jon Kilik, production designer Philip Messina, production designer Jo Willems, set decorator Larry Dias, special effects foreman Brandon Keyes McLaughlin, special effects coordinator Steve Cremin, visual effects supervisor Charles Gibson, greensman Jessica Echols, casting director Debra Zane, makeup designers Ve Neill and Nikoletta Skarlatos, costume designers “Kurt and Bart”, hair designer Camille Friend, special effects makeup Glenn Hetrick, prosthetics specialist Ken Culver, stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave, editors Alan Edward-Bell and Mark Yoshikawa, visual effects producer Melinka Thompson-Godoy, CG supervisor Ben Huber, composer James Newton Howard, 2D supervisor Walter Gilbert, visual effects supervisors Patric Roos and Adrian de Wet, rigger Remi Cauzid, animator Ben Goerlach, generalist TDs Leah Low and Maung Maung Hla Win, 2D lead artist David Man, and actors Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Jeffrey Wright, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Willow Shields, Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, Paula Malcomson, Jena Malone, Mahershala Ali, Natalie Dormer, Evan Ross, Elden Henson, Wes Chatham, Patina Miller, Sarita Choudhury, Robert Knepper, and Stef Dawson.

“Lives” examines the source and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and performances, sets, locations and production design, photography, various effects, costumes, makeup and hair, stunts and action, editing, audio and music, and the cliffhanger ending.

All four Hunger Games movies include feature-length documentaries, and all four offer fine overviews of the subject matter. “Lives” functions as well as the others, so expect a thorough, engaging and informative program.

Straight from the Heart fills 11 minutes, three seconds with notes from Francis Lawrence, Jennifer Lawrence, Malcomson, Malone, Kilik, Hutcherson, Banks, Jacobson, Wright, and Moore.

As noted, Philip Seymour Hoffman died during the shoot, and this acts as a tribute to him. It becomes a warm salute, one that seems a bit more interesting due to the presence of some rehearsal footage.

Next comes Songs of Rebellion, an eight-minute, 10-second featurette that offers remarks from musician Lorde. She discusses her work on the film’s music in this fairly useful reel.

Nine Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 11 minutes, 18 seconds. Most of these offer fairly minor extensions or add-ons, but a couple prove interesting.

In particular, we get a meeting between Snow and Peeta that proves intriguing. A scene in which Effie chastises some poor makeup artists adds needed comedy as well. Those become the most compelling clips.

We also get a music video for Lorde’s “Yellow Flicker Beat”. It offers a mix of lip-synch/dance moments that don’t attempt a story.

I don’t mind, as the visuals suit the song, and I feel happy the video lacks the usual movie clips. It’s a good tune as well.

The disc opens with ads for The Divergent Series: Insurgent, Manh(a)ttan, The Age of Adaline, Mortdecai and The Royals. The disc also presents a Sneak Peek at Insurgent, but it lacks a trailer for Mockingjay 1.

A second disc brings a DVD copy of Mockingjay 1. It includes the commentary, the deleted scenes and the previews but it lacks the other extras.

As the first half of the saga’s conclusion, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 offers a disappointing effort. Slow and largely devoid of drama or excitement, the movie plods and acts as a lackluster lead-in to the finale. The Blu-ray offers excellent picture and audio along with a satisfying collection of bonus materials. While this turns into a top-notch Blu-ray, the film disappoints.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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