Jennifer Lawrence is back as Katniss Everdeen in the penultimate chapter to The Hunger Games franchise in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1. Almost four months since it released and it has FINALLY reached Blu-Ray and DVD and it's just as brilliant as I remember. The wait is over.
Following YA adaption tradition, Lionsgate have split the final book in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy of novels into two films. Whilst this can be viewed as an unpopular decision, perhaps looked at as a money grab, it's hard to deny the fact that Mockingjay Part 1 is a good film. It's probably the best The Hunger Games film we've had. It also means we can get as much as possible from the story.
Picking up from where last year's Catching Fire left off, Mockingjay Part 1 follows a bewildered and frightened Katniss Everdeen waking up in the depths of the thought to be lost District 13. Unable to wrap her head around the recent events, she fails to understand Head Gamemaker Plutarch's plan and explanation of the Peeta's sacrifice and Katniss' role in the rebellion. As time begins to run out, District 13's president begins to question misplaced faith in their Mockingjay. However, after a trip to the obliterated, scarred remains of District 12 Katniss begins to piece the puzzle together and as her revenge upon President Snow starts to phase in and heat up our Mockingjay takes flight.
Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence returns to the helm and this is unlike any of the previous two films. It's darker, more mature and just visually it's a completely new take on what we've been used to seeing with The Hunger Games - taking place in the darker, more plain halls of the underground District 13. Of course pressure falls on Francis to make a film just as good, if not better than its predecessors, despite the actual titular games being absent, by really driving the story and character development and he pulls it off. He captures and retains the audiences attention, keeps us engaged from the start to finish. You're never left bored as you're always given something to think about.
The acting is the best I've seen in a Hunger Games film. Hemsworth, Banks, Harrelson are all great! Donald Sutherland is exceptional as the evil Snow. You hate him yet you're rooting for him. Josh Hutcherson is rather brilliant as our Hijacked Peeta. All the newcomers, especially Julianne Moore and Natalie Dormer all shine too. Of course, though, all eyes are on Jennifer Lawrence, who steals the show. She is simply MAGNIFICENT as Katniss! This is easily one of her best performances to date and could have very easily be an Oscar contender - if only YA films were nominated. She's just so mesmerising and you can't help but love her! This is why she's the biggest actress working today!
Mockingjay Part 1 just ends too abruptly and, whether you've read the book or not, when you leave, you feels like you've only seen half a film (which, ultimately, you have). The ending itself isn't much of a cliffhanger but it does make you want Part 2 to just hurry the hell up and arrive already. I know what's coming so it made the proccedings that bit more thrilling. I loved the film.
- Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson: This running commentary, over the film, makes a nice little feature for anyone that has seen the film before, especially if you want an insight and thoughts from the minds of the duo that helmed the direction of the project.
- Straight from the Heart: A Tribute to Phillip Seymour Hoffman: This 11-minute long feature will jerk at the heart strings. It's emotional. Dedicated purely to tribute the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who played Plutarch Heavensbee in the film, this segment will make you smile as the cast and crew talk anout their most memorable moments with the man. They all do a wonderful job honouring him. He was a great man.
- The Mockingjay Lives: The Making of Mockingjay Part 1: Split into several sections, this documentary lasts longer than the feature film itself! It's all about the core and foundations of Mockingjay Part 1 and how director Francis Lawrence translated Suzanne Collins' book to the big screen. As it is said, Part 1 is all about saving Peeta. Part 2 is all about killing Snow. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes footage and discussion from the cast and crew talk about filming and just the franchise itself. There's a look at costumes, talk about the locations of shooting of the film and some stunt b-roll too. It's a long documentary but certainly an interesting one for budding filmmakers.
- Songs of Rebellion: Lorde on Curating the Soundtrack: Artist Lorde discusses her glorious song Yellow Flicker Beat and just about pulling together the official motion picture soundtrack for the picture and what that was like.
- Lorde's 'Yellow Flicker Beat' Music Video: As well as talking about her song, the music video for Yellow Flicker Beat is here too. It's quite moody but it's cool.
- Deleted Scenes: There's a total of nine of them. It's hard to talk about them without revealing any spoilers but it's quite self-explanatory, really. It's too give the viewer an insight as to some of the scenes that almost made the final cut but just missed out. It's exposition for the most part but there's a couple of profound scenes which would've been wonderful to see in the full, polished off version of the film - a beautiful one in which Katniss and Effie pay homage to Cinna. It's powerful.
- The Divergent Series: Insurgent Sneak Peek: Again, it says it in the title. Lionsgate offer up a sneak peek at the second instalment in their other YA franchise, The Divergent Series. Author Veronica Roth and the cast of the film talk a bit about what to expect and there's also some behind-the-scenes footage.
Overall, the extras are rather interesting and offer a unique, intriguing insight into the making of the illustrious project. Theres a good few hours of features though which means it'll take some time to sit through it all and things can drag out a little bit too, making things feel that bit longer or boring at times.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.