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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The Hunger Games: “Catching Fire” Updates, Casting, and More!

Readers, I need to sincerely apologize for being M.I.A. these past few weeks!  A lot has been going on, giving me barely any time to read (let alone blog!) but do not fret; your good friend Mookology has some awesome news for you regarding no other topic than our beloved “The Hunger Games” trilogy.

The Hunger Games DVD Blu Ray Jennifer Lawrence Josh Hutcherson Lionsgate Katniss Everdeen Peeta Mellark Suzanne Collins

via Amazon.com

First off, if you didn’t already know, the official DVD/Blu-Ray release of “The Hunger Games” is just over a week away, August 18th.  You can pick it up at any digital entertainment store or you can pre-order it off Amazon and have it safely delivered to your doorstep upon release day.

The dual disc pack includes both a Blu-Ray and Ultra Violet digital copy of the film, as well as a second disc including tons of behind the scenes goodies.  Some bonus features include a “Making Of” video, interviews with Suzanne Collins and Gary Ross, as well as the Propaganda films used by the Capitol and played throughout Panem.  Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy and relive the awesomeness of this movie.

The “Catching Fire” movie is set to begin filming at the end of this month and the rumor mill has been running its course deeply and quickly.  Replacing Gary Ross as the role of director will be Francis Lawrence, famed director of Will Smith’s zombie apocalypse flick “I Am Legend.”  Shooting for the sequel will take place in Atlanta, GA, and Wilmington, NC, where several casting agencies are looking for extras, as well as on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.  If you’re in these areas, definitely keep your eyes peeled over the next few months for your favorite Hunger Games stars!

Several well-known actors have been confirmed for the coveted roles in the sequel: Jena Malone as Johanna Mason,  Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, Amanda Plummer as Wiress, Meta Golding as Enobaria, and Lynn Cohen as Mags.  However, there are still some major unconfirmed additions to the Catching Fire team, particularly the roles of Finnick Odair and Beetee.  Although it has not been officially announced by Lionsgate, Sam Clafin has been named on IMDB.com as the actor filling Finnick’s role as well as Tony Shalhoub for Beetee.  Patrick St. Esprit is also rumored to be the aggressive Peacekeeper of District 12, Romulus Thread.

As of the moment, “Catching Fire” is set to be released November 22, 2013 but is, of course, subject to change.  Be sure to grab a copy of “The Hunger Games” when it hits stores next week.  I sure will be!

**UPDATES**

8/8: It has officially been announced that Bruno Gunn will be playing the role of Brutus, a District 2 tribute.

8/9: Alan Ritchson has been given the role of District 1 tribute, Gloss.

8/10:  The District 11 tribute Chaff will be played be E. Roger Mitchell!

8/17:  Congratulations to Liam Hemsworth’s “The Last Song” Co-star Stephanie Leigh Schlund on landing the role of Cashmere, a District 1 tribute and brother of Gloss.