Katniss Everdeen returns in this 3rd installment of the famed The Hunger Games series. Based on the novels by Suzanne Collins, this chapter entitled The Mockingjay finds Katniss continuing to fight for not only her own life, but the lives of her close friends. What results is yet another thrilling effort in the series.
Studio: Anchor Bay
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English Dolby Atmos
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 2 Hr. 3 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital CopyKeep Case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 03/06/2015
The Production Rating: 4/5
Taking place shortly after the events of Catching Fire, we find Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) awakening inside District 13. Having successfully won both Hunger Games, Katniss wants nothing more than to be finally done with President Snow (Donald Sutherland, in an as always excellent performance.) Working with Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and District 13's President, Alma Coin (Julianne Moore,) Katniss agrees to be the Mockingjay, or the symbol, of the rebellion against Snow. As expected, Snow has other plans up his sleeve putting everyone Katniss cares about in grave danger.
Akin to that of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 (a 'slow' entry to some,) MockingJay Pt. 1 find itself focusing less on action (ie the Games themselves,) dealing more with the actual feelings and responsibilities Katniss has taken upon herself. Wrapped in a more of 'doing this for the greater good versus my personal desires', Katniss finds herself acting more like Coin and Heavensbee WANT her to instead of what she knows to be true. Instead of being that rebel that Snow despises, Katniss, more than ever, follows a by-the-numbers agenda.
While this does result in the film moving a bit 'slower' than the previous entries, I couldn't find myself finding any fault in this. Like any great novel to film transition, it's pivotal that we learn more about these characters. What makes them tick? Do they feel emotion? Yes, it's all well and good to have an over abundance of action ala the first 2 entries, but this kind of film is exactly what will leave either a long lasting impact in our minds (discussion of the films attempt at a more 'philosophical' theme have been brought up by few,) or be labeled as 'dull' and 'nothing like the book.' The latter just doesn't exist in my my eye as MockingJay Pt.1 is a great entry into the film's series.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 arrives with a 2:40:1 framed, AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer from the folks at Lionsgate. Akin to that of the two prior films, this transfer is nearly immaculate in every area. Even though there's a fair share of low lit sequences, detail is never lost. Skin tones are detailed, while facial hues are accurate with no real instance of contrast levels being adjusted. Blacks are equally impressive with no loss of detail. CGI effects mix in with live action perfectly. Lastly, the film's print (as one might expect) is in perfect condition. All in all, this is another excellent effort from Lionsgate.
Audio Rating: 5/5
On the audio front, The Mockingjay Part 1 arrives with a thunderous Dolby Atmos (core Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix.) Dialogue is excellently reproduced throughout, with no instance of drop out or muddled dialogue. Atmosphere, as in the title of the mix itself, is some of the best I've heard. LFE, particularly during the underground District 13 sequences, is demo worthy throughout (especially during the booming action moments.) Fidelity is crisp with perfectly placed, while dynamic range is immersive with excellent 360 atmosphere.
Dolby Atmos Update: Wow. I have watched close to 15 titles in Dolby Atmos at home. This edges out Gravity as my favorite Atmos title. On my 7.2.4 system (4 overhead channels) this sounded amazing. This is the most active mix I have heard when it comes to the height channels. A lot of movies will just put a few directional effects, and maybe some music, but for the most part the height channels are quiet. This was the opposite. When there weren't effects, the soundtrack was coming from the height channels as well, completely surrounding you. There were a lot more details overhead compared to other Atmos Blu-rays. Usually with helicopters they just have the rotors overhead. In this mix, I heard, the mechanical sound of the rotors, the wind kicking up dirt and rocks and the creaking and groaning of the airframe. While in District 13 any klaxons, or alarms could be heard in the heights as well as surrounds. The icing on the cake was the bombing of District 13. I felt like I was in the bomb shelter with them as I heard the bombs falling and exploding on top of me, followed by the dust and debris falling from the ceiling. I could hear it hit and bounce off the metal bed frames. This Blu-ray shows the full potential of what Dolby Atmos can do in the home. -- Adam Gregorich
Special Features Rating: 3.5/5
Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson - Director Francis Lawrence offers up much insight into what exactly brought him to direct the past 2 installments of the series (as well as the upcoming 2nd part of The Mockingjay.)
"The Mockingjay Lives: The Making of MJ1" Documentary (2:14:19, 1080p) - This is a seven part, rather in depth look into just about every aspect of the film's making. Topics include the film's visual effects, make up, shooting locales, casting, post-production and the film's premier. This documentary is a no-brainer watch from even the slightest fan of the film/series.
Straight from the Heart: A Tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman (11:03, 1080p) - A solid, short, sweet tribute to the late actor.
Songs of Rebellion: Lorde on Curating the Soundtrack (8:10, 1080p) - Lorde briefly speaks on her approach to creating the film's soundtrack.
Lorde "Yellow Flicker Beat" Music Video (4:05, 1080p) - The music video for the film's lead track.
Deleted Scenes (11:18, 1080p)
Insurgent Sneak Peek (4:11, 1080p)
Digital Copy - An UltraViolet Digital Copy has been included, as well as a copy that works with iTunes.
Deleted Scene: "I'm Not Asking"
Overall Rating: 4/5
While this 3rd installment isn't AS impressive as the 2nd film (my personal favorite,) I can't deny that this 1st part of The Mockingjay is a thrilling, edge of your seat ride. Director Francis Lawrence clearly understands what Author Suzanne Collins was aiming for with these books. Lionsgate has delivered an all around solid Blu-ray effort with a near perfect video transfer, a thunderous Dolby Atmos mix, as well as a handful of great features. Fans will be sure to want to grab this post haste.
Reviewed By: Brendan Surpless
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