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 Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Click here to read my review of The Hunger Games!

Catching Fire – Novel by Suzanne Collins

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

Let it be known, Catching Fire is my favorite installment of the trilogy.  Where The Hunger Games wows us with this sick dystopian world, the contrived Capitol, and the defiant emergence of Katniss, Catching Fire really ups the stakes for the story and we begin to see the severity of Katniss’ survival in the Games and what it means for the other district citizens.

Catching Fire is so successful in what it sets out to do.  With most trilogies, the middle installment naturally acts as a bridge between two major plot points, but often they are either dull and just filling a gap between two pieces of information or completely overloaded with material that you get kind of lost.  What I love about Catching Fire is that it IS a bridge between two major plot points,  but can still stand alone on its own.  It introduces very important new characters and themes, reveals more depth to existing characters, and reinforces and reiterates what is important about this story without constantly repeating itself.

If I could, I would read Catching Fire again and again and again.  It is an exiting piece of work and it really begins to construct the rebellion brewing in Panem, which leads seamlessly into Mockingjay.  The rapid events at the ending of the story happen quite quickly, and was something I had to reread in order to truly understand, but if done well could transition onto screen perfectly.  Catching Fire is definitely the strongest of the three books; an opinion I know I share with most fans of the series.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” – Directed by Francis Lawrence

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

Francis Lawrence’s adaptation of “Catching Fire” makes “The Hunger Games” seem like childs play.  As a huge fan of the first movie (you can read my review here), I was interested and skeptical in how this film would pan out with a new director.  “Catching Fire” hits us over the head with brilliance and does the book incredible justice.

Just like the Third Quarter Quell, everything about “Catching Fire” is bigger and better.  The actors have developed stronger skills, the costumes are avantgarde and absolutely brilliant, and the special effects blow the previous movie out of the water.  The Tribute Parade and CGI animals in the arena were the most notable differences for me.  In “The Hunger Games” the Tribute Parade is almost embarrassing.  The special effects were sub par and it was really the only part of the movie I truly didn’t like.  Similarly, the “mutts” in “The Hunger Games” were very fake looking and, while scary in thought, weren’t realistic.  The current films Tribute Parade is as if we are transported to a dystopian ancient Greece, and Katniss and Peeta’s costumes are astonishingly executed without the cheesy flames of the first film.  And the baboons in the arena?  Absolutely terrifying.

Most importantly, the journey we, as viewers, go on with our beloved characters is emotional and real.  In a moment of purity, Effie breaks down in her disappointment with what has happened with Katniss and Peeta and expresses her loyalty to them as a team.  It is touching and moving, and I found myself getting choked up at most points throughout the film.  Newcomers like Finnick and Johanna elevate the storyline and bring realness to what is happening; like Katniss and Peeta, they are victors and they have also been betrayed by the Capitol.

All biases aside, something needs to be said about Jennifer Lawrence’s role as Katniss.  The final scene is astounding, her facial expressions flawless, and it is as if you are completely inside Katniss’ head without her saying a word at all.  The last few minutes of the film has me clenching the side of my seat and ended with a cliff hanger of astronomical proportions, leaving me beyond anxious for “Mockingjay Part One.”  Catching Fire is absolutely brilliant and I personally felt it was as near flawless of an adaptation as they come.

Mook Rating  

The End is Near: Final Mooks of 2012

When I think back to one year ago, it is hard to believe the spark for Mookology was just beginning to ignite.  Nearly 2,500 followers later, Mookology’s one year anniversary is well on its way along with a number of incredible mooks I know you are all looking forward to.  Closing out the year are two of the most highly anticipated mooks of the decade: “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2,” which will blow up theaters across the nation on November 16th, followed by (and likely surpassed by) “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” on December 14th.  Both of these mooks are the heart of large fan bases who are, undoubtedly, eager to see these stories come to life.

Aside from these fantasy series adaptations which are bound to be record breaking releases, there are a few mooks I am very anxious to see.  The adaptation of David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” debuts on October 26th, with a promising cast and lots of potential.  Toronto Film Festival favorite, “The Silver Lining’s Playbook” will be released in theaters on November 21st along with the adaptation for the award-winning “Life of Pi.”

Classic literature will also take the screen before the years end.  The 2012 adaptation for “Anna Karenina” will also make its way to the silver screen in November, but is likely to be ousted from the top spot by the Twilight franchise.  Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” adaptation is another mook that is sure to bring in viewers, starring actress of Twilight fame, Kristen Stewart.  Tom Hooper’s adaptation of “Les Miserables” will officially bring 2012 to its close with it’s Christmas debut.

Of course, 2013 will not shy away from adaptations as there are many eagerly anticipated mooks to be released.  Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the novels’ namesake, is set for a release date of May 10th after being pushed back from its December 2012 release.  “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is also lined up for release in November 2013, a mook with a very large fan base, however tween fantasy romance “Beautiful Creatures” might give The Hunger Games a run for its money debuting in February of 2013.   L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz gets a fresh take with Sam Raimi’s “Oz: The Great and Powerful”, while Stephen King’s psycho-thriller remake “Carrie” gets a fresh face with Chloe Moretz as the disturbed lead role, both set to release in March.

The year to come will have no shortage of mooks, that much is clear, and announcements for new adaptations are being made rapidly.  Two very popular young adult series’, Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” and Cassandra Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments,” are both slated for adaptations and are being both cast and filmed as of the moment.  What mooks are you most looking forward to seeing?  Which books would you love to see made into mooks?  Leave your comments below and keep on reading!

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.

Mook Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games – Written by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins, Katniss Everdeen

via BN.com

Many literary snobs turn up their nose at Young Adult fiction. I am definitely not one of those people. I love the recent surge in Young Adult fiction, particularly fantasy, and their development into highly successful mooks. These novels fly off the shelves and become box-office hits instantly… so what is there not to like? I do recognize the many failed YA adaptations, but when given an amazing text to work with it seems natural to want a big-screen translation. A prime example of this is The Hunger Games.

I was first introduced to The Hunger Games by my 8-12 year old dance students. They would not stop talking about the despised “Capitol” and their beloved characters Katniss and Peeta. They begged me to read the book but I had brushed off the novel as being way too immature for me to read (the 10+ age gap between myself and my students was a red flag.) I soon began to realize that everywhere I went, someone was reading or talking about this book. I finally gave in and picked up The Hunger Games this past November. I literally could not put down the trilogy for the following 7 days.

Suzanne Collins is a specialist in children’s writing, and it shows in The Hunger Games. This novel is in no way a difficult read. The language is concise, the metaphors clear, and the plot lines are straight to the point. It is not a “literary masterpiece” but it is divine in its own right. Katniss Everdeen is an amazing female character and heroine. She is a strong-willed fighter who will do anything to survive and, in my opinion, is a fantastic role model for young readers. The novel is told from Katniss’ perspective so we are limited in what we know, but from the start it is clear that Gale Hawthorne plays a major role in Katniss’ life. However, once the games begin, he is discarded and becomes a very minor character. The same is for Katniss’ sister, Primrose. Katniss is constantly talking about how much Prim means to her but we barely know anything about her. This is a serious problem I had with The Hunger Games and felt myself feeling empty towards the minor characters.

Undoubtedly, this novel is a page turner and the casual attitude towards the violence in Panem is eerie. Collins keeps us in the dark about information surrounding the Capitol, the games, and the districts (one of the reasons why the following two novels are so thrilling.) I found myself trying to scrape up any bit of information I could find and trying to piece it all together. Although this is considered a Young Adult book and the main characters are all children themselves, there is nothing childish about Collins’ dystopia and its transgression to the screen should be nothing short of incredible. I anticipate it to be a box office smash.

“The Hunger Games” – Directed by Gary Ross

The Hunger Games Movie, Lionsgate, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Gary Ross, Mookology Review, Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, The Capitol

via IMDB.com

First, I would like to thank my good friend Matt (@mattw6789) for taking me to an advanced screening of “The Hunger Games” yesterday afternoon! If you are one of my twitter followers (@Mookology), you may have seen my tweets of HG-themed cocktails and countdown posters. It was amazing! Now, onto the movie.

For all you fans of the book series, be prepared to see some changes. These are minor changes, mostly, with a few added elements. However, these things needed to be done in order to present the Capitol, the Districts, and the Games with proper detail. In the book, we are inside Katniss head and she guides us with information on the world she lives in and how the Games work. What we miss in the film without Katniss’ narration is made up for with added scenes and explanations.

One of my favorite things about the movie, for example, was that we are able to see the Gamemaker Headquarters (which is AWESOME!) which gives Seneca Crane a much larger role. Everything about the Capitol is quite intense, super glamorous and a stark alternative to the lives in the Districts. The movie is able to put the Capitol on display in the way the book cannot. Gary Ross does a great job of directing in the sense that each aspect of the films’ settings are different and capture the mood of the scene.

The casting was phenomenal. I am a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan and it was no surprise that she was fantastic, but everyone else was equally as powerful. Elizabeth Banks as Effie was hilarious in all the right ways and probably one of my favorite portrayals in the film. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, who I was nervous would not impress me at all, was PERFECT and he completely reinforced my “Team Peeta” mentality. Lastly, Stanley Tucci as Ceasar Flickerman is flat out flawless and becomes the face of the Capitol in the most strange and corrupt way. Ceasar Flickerman narrates the Games as if it were the Superbowl, which brings to the surface how twisted the Capitol is and how far removed it’s citizens are from the sanctity of their tributes’ lives.

The only problem with being such a huge fan of the novels is that “The Hunger Games” film feels rushed, even at 2 and 1/2 hours. Katniss and Rue’s friendship is so short lived and, while powerful, you just want a little bit more. The same goes for Katniss and Peeta’s romance. But these small issues in no way harmed the integrity of this film.

“The Hunger Games” is a gem in an era of franchise movies and I hope everyone who sees it feels the same. It’s impossible not to! I had super high expectations and this film met most of them with flying colors and has me eagerly anticipating its sequel, “Catching Fire.”

Mook Rating ★★★★1/2

First Look at The Hunger Games Film!

Over the past month quite a few clips from “The Hunger Games” have been released and, to my relief, they do not expose much from the movie.  These short clips (most run about 30 seconds long) are giving fans a first glimpse to the film adaptation, the similarities, and differences that will come into play.  It also gives some reassurance that the actors will portray the beloved characters appropriately.  But don’t expect any insight to the arena! Lionsgate has kept that aspect of the film a secret for the most part.

Below you can see all of the clips released to date.  Don’t forget to catch “The Hunger Games” this weekend!

 

 

 

 

“The Hunger Games” is Already Breaking Box-Office Records!

The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence

via EW.com

Entertainment Weekly has launched its own section for “The Hunger Games” where visitors can find the latest and greatest news on the series (both film and print.)  Though this may be a bit of old news for some, “The Hunger Games” has already ousted the “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” in advanced ticket sales!  Take that Twi-hards!

According to a report from Fandango.com, the February 22nd release of advanced tickets for “The Hunger Games” accounted for over 80% of their daily revenue.  Rick Butler, Executive VP and General Manager of Fandango stated on February 23rd:

“Yesterday we saw the biggest first day advance ticket sales in our company’s nearly 12-year historywhich is especially impressive for a March release and a non-sequel.” via BoxOffice.com

Since this statement, E! Online has announced that a “Catching Fire” script has been presented to Suzanne Collins with a temporary release date of November 2013, so fans of the trilogy can rest peacefully.  In general, this is fantastic news for “The Hunger Games” and mookologists around the globe!

Buy advanced tickets to “The Hunger Games” at Fandango.com

2012: The Year of the Mook?

It seems I’m not the only one RIDICULOUSLY pumped for 2012 Mooks! Read, “The 10 Most Anticipated Book Adaptations of 2012” (via Publisher’s Weekly)

What I find the most exciting is the number of noteworthy classics on this list!  While The Great Gatsby and Great Expectations both dominate the categories in literary history, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Life of Pi have just as much credibility and are very popular reads.  The highly anticipated adaptation of The Hobbit is long overdue and The Hunger Games? Enough said. I know I can’t stop ranting about how 2012 is going to be a great Mook year, and it has just started!  I hope you’re all as excited as I am.

Tons of Mooks in theaters this Spring! Makes me happy :)

Two days ago, I posted about upcoming Mooks for 2012.  I was not mistaken!  Mooks have been stealing the spotlight for decades, but 2012 looks like Mook heaven.  Publishers Weekly has composed a list of 2012 Mooks of all kinds – fiction, nonfiction, thriller, and fantasy.  I need to get my Mook mojo on!  Which Mooks of 2012 would you like to see the most?

 

via Publishers Weekly “Cinema for Spring: 2012 Movie Tie-Ins”

 

Upcoming Mooks!

There are sooo many sensational Mook opportunities coming to theaters this year!  Listed below are the ones I am particularly excited to see and review.  Feel free to comment and share upcoming Mooks you would like to see on Mookology.

  • “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” in theaters 1/20 – Novel by Jonathan Safran Foer/Film Directed by Stephen Daldry
  • “The Hunger Games” in theaters 3/23 – Novel by Suzanne Collins/Film Directed by Gary Ross
  • “The Woman in Black” in theaters 2/3 – Novel by Susan Hill/Film Directed by James Watkins
  • “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” in theaters 3/2 – Novel by Dr. Seuss/Film Directed by Chris Renaud
  • “Mirror Mirror” in theaters 3/16 – Story by the Brothers Grimm/Film Directed by Tarsem Singh
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman” in theaters 6/1 – Story by the Brothers Grimm/Film Directed by Rupert Sanders
  • “The Hobbit” in theaters 12/14 – Novel by J.R.R. Tolkien/Film Directed by Peter Jackson
  • “Life of Pi” in theaters 12/21 – Novel by Yann Martel/Film Directed by Ang Lee
  • “The Great Gatsby” in theaters 12/25 – Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald/Film Directed by Baz Luhrmann

I know there are many more that I missed – I can’t wait!!!