Mook Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

First, read my review on The Hunger Games and Catching Fire! 

Mockingjay – Novel by Suzanne Collins

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

After flying through both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, my brain could not WAIT to absorb Mockingjay.  Catching Fire ended on such a major cliffhanger and I was intrigued, anxious, and excited to see what was going to happen in Panem.  The concept behind Mockingjay is awesome, and it had the opportunity to be the best of the three.  A rebel army hiding beneath the surface of the long gone District 13?  An emerging new leader, ready to take on the Capitol?  A deranged and depressed protagonist who needs to become the face of a rebellion?  Collins’ third installment really spoke to the idea of a revolution.

Executionally, Mockingjay could have been a lot better.  The first half of the book really dragged on and I was desperate for Katniss to come out of her slump and be the heroine we all expected her to be.  While it is extremely believable that Katniss would have some very serious mental debilitations following her second round of games, it just didn’t work for me.  The first part of the book seemed very repetitive and while I understood the direction Collins was taking the story in, and I didn’t really believe Katniss was depressed.

About a third into the book is when Mockingjay really picks up speed.  Katniss finally comes alive and it begins to feel like the story I wanted it to be.  Of course, Collins does a fascinating job of surprising the readers.  The reunion of Katniss and Peeta is devastating and I think I gasped out loud when I first read it.  Halfway through this novel I was desperate to finish reading, clutching onto Mockingjay in my bed into the late hours of the night, fighting off sleep so I can just read another chapter.

And then… it’s over.  I have to say I was REALLY disappointed with the ending of Mockingjay.  Towards the end of the book, Mockingjay gets so intense, so action packed, so heart wrenching and dramatic, with an intensity that spans through many chapters.  But it ends abruptly and with a quick summary of what happens to our characters and Panem.  I put down Mockingjay wanting more, and not in a good way.

Needless to say, Mockingjay was my least favorite of the books.  I struggle a lot with the way the final story is told and really didn’t find it as good as the others.  It starts too slow and then picks up just in time to fall flat again.  Also, there were times towards the end where the action scenes were too complex that I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.  That said, I do believe Mockingjay will be a GREAT movie – not necessarily better than the first two films, but definitely a better movie than book.  Unfortunately, it just wasn’t the novel I wanted this story to end on.

 

“Mockingjay – Part 1” – Directed by Francis Lawrence

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

As mentioned above, I expected “Mockingjay – Part 1” to be a better movie than novel.  There are a lot of things going for the storyline of Mockingjay that suits itself for film – the actors are superb and can pull off the complexity of emotion necessary and the action scenes in the book can be taken to a whole other level on screen.  However,  “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is a tough act to follow.  There is a lot to live up to, as I felt “Catching Fire” exceeded my expectations and was much more successful than “The Hunger Games.”

With this film, I was not disappointed.  Jennifer Lawrence is really just a force to be reckoned with and she pulls off the damaged version of Katniss so well.  I did feel like “Mockingjay – Part 1” jumped a little too quickly into the action.  I would have liked a few more scenes with Katniss struggling to adapt to life in 13, but I understand it was necessary to get right into it for the sake of time.  Once the action starts going, “Mockingjay – Part 1” takes off without a hitch.  Parts of this movie were so moving; for example, when Katniss arrives in District 8 and walks through the hospital and is barely able to keep herself together, I had chills.  And Julianne Moore, as the stone cold Alma Coin, is absolutely perfect.  She has just the slight touch of evil that makes you really dislike her – and you can tell Katniss does too.

I had a slight issue with Peeta’s appearance.  I thought the CGI of the final two scenes of him in the Capitol’s videos were not believable and looked really fake, although I thought the acting was great.  Since Mockingjay was split up into two feature films, I had speculated (as many have) that it would end on the reunion of Katniss and Peeta.  I was right.  And it was intense.  It was one of the best scenes in all three of the movies and everyone in the audience felt pain watching the scene.  It was a great moment to close on and really left you wanting the next, and final, installment of “The Hunger Games” franchise.

While I did enjoy the movie so much more than the book, it didn’t quite make it to the success of “Catching Fire” …but that is ok.  In some ways, “Mockingjay – Part 1” did just feel like a set up for the second movie and it definitely can’t stand alone on it’s own.  But it was successful in what it set out to prove and really showed the audience that there are no more games – this a real war.  A Rebellion.  And it is just getting started.  I definitely am anxious to see what “Mockingjay – Part 2” will bring and if it will have a greater impact than the book did.  Here’s to waiting another year for the close of this great series!

Mook Rating  ★1/2

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Mook Review: The Giver

The Giver – Novel by Lois Lowry

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

Reading was always something I loved as a kid.  When most of my peers would go home and spend hours in front of the television, I was the nerd who couldn’t wait to finish another chapter of my book.  I read everything and anything, both inside and outside of school, so it is no surprise that I read The Giver when it was part of my elementary school curriculum.  However, the distinct difference between The Giver and all the other books I had read up to that point, it was one of the first books that actually made me feel something.  Furthermore, it made me WANT to feel something.  Even at a young age, I understood after the impact of The Giver.  The novel isn’t easily forgettable, and shows us why it is so important to feel, to live, to explore.

When I picked it up again as a refresher for the movie, I was astonished at how advanced the message really was.  In a world where we can barely keep up with technological advances, a world where microchipped DNA doesn’t seem too unrealistic, The Giver really hit home.  I was reminded of why I fell in love with the story in the first place, and also why it is a Newbery Medal winning novel.  Lowry did a magnificent job of making the futuristic dystopia both relatable and timeless, even in todays very advanced society.  I would hope that adolescents today still have the same response to reading The Giver as I did, and want to cherish the present and the ability to feel and live freely.

In many ways, The Giver is more impactful now than it ever was before.  Every new generation becomes more and more detached from the real world, instead hiding behind smartphones, tablets, and laptops.  I would definitely suggest reading The Giver if you haven’t already, but also if you have.  It is so short that you can breeze through it, but there will also be moments that you didn’t realize or understand before.  Since the story of Jonas and The Giver is timeless it does not disappoint, and will make you take a deep breath in light of the present.

 

“The Giver”Directed by Phillip Noyce

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

I have a theory about why “The Giver” was so poorly received by viewers and critics… and I think I am right.

When put up against box office hits like “The Hunger Games” or even “Divergent” there is something about “The Giver” that just falls flat.  Even though it was packed with well known actors such as Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, and Katie Holmes, it is almost boring compared to the YA dystopian epics in theaters now.  The other YA blockbusters are action packed, with jarring plot twists, and blurring divisions of good and evil.

However, none of those other blockbuster mooks live on middle-school curriculums or won a Newbery Medal. That’s what made “The Giver” what it is.

When I saw the first trailer of “The Giver” I knew it was going to try and be something that it wasn’t.  Although it didn’t push the limits as far as I had expected, “The Giver” still tried to keep up with the ranks of it’s competitors when it shouldn’t have.  There were some obvious changes to the book, most noticeably the much more prominent roles of Fiona and the Chief Elder.  That I did not mind so much, since the novel really only focuses on Jonas and it was necessary for the film to give a more 360 degree view of the story.  For the most part I did actually enjoy the movie, but as a whole the film just didn’t seem necessary.  Why bring a literary classic to life only to make money off of a trend?  “The Giver” could have been simpler, and more honest.

To summarize, if YA dystopia hadn’t become so popular as of late, I do not believe they would have made this movie.  In my opinion, “The Giver” was created purely to keep up with demand.

 

Mook Rating