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Blu-ray Review The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Brendan Surpless

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Blu-ray Review

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

Rating: PG-13

Run Time: 2 Hr. 3 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy

Keep Case

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 03/06/2015

MSRP: $39.99




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.


Blu-ray Trailer


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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Adam Lenhardt

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Thanks for the review, Brendan. It should be noted that unlike the first two films (which were shot on film), the two Mockjay films were shot digitally with the Alexa using anamorphic lenses. So the transfer should be a downconvert of the digital file.
 

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We were talking about this at work the other day and we did compare it, like Brendan did, to Deathly Hallows Part I. The problem is the book is split into two pieces and an audience can really skip this installment before the grand finale. You could skip Harry Potter 7.1 and not miss a whole lot of anything important.


Mockingjay Part I is slower than the previous two films, it doesn't have the action or the sense of dread we got previously. It doesn't allow Katniss to inspire anyone; the relationship with Prim is almost entirely cut. I didn't get the evolution of Katniss from this rebel to someone who wants to be a public figure. The only ways to tighten this up were to cut the run time (and, therefore, pieces of the story) or avoid a part II. That would have been a roller coaster in every way, though Mockingjay would have easily been a three hour movie.


Julianne Moore is utterly wasted in the role of President Coin. I'm still not sure if it's the performance, the directing or the script (or all three) that neuter that character beyond all comprehension. This is just the pre-game before the main event this coming November. All that being said, the minute Mockingjay Part I goes on sale for $9.99, I'll be adding it to the collection...
 

schan1269

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It must be the "short attention span" theatre crowd that didn't like MJ1 as well as the first two...and the comparative lack of interest in DH1.

Preambles to grande finale are supposed to be low key to rest you up.

Listen to 15 to 20 minute classical music pieces sometime. Give your self a break from the 3:21 pieces of top 40...
 

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It's also the critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes. The first two movies have scores over 80%. Mockingjay Part I is sitting at 65%. The percentages are lower over on MetaCritic, but Mockingjay Part I is still the lowest rated of all three movies (so far).


When you have an event movie (and this is an event movie), there's no need to "rest up." There was a year between Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part I. That should be plenty of rest.


And, to be blunt, I find the last two lines, Sam, to be condescending. You're making a lot of assumptions about me and, I think, anyone who might agree.
 

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Jason_V said:
It's also the critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes. The first two movies have scores over 80%. Mockingjay Part I is sitting at 65%. The percentages are lower over on MetaCritic, but Mockingjay Part I is still the lowest rated of all three movies (so far).


When you have an event movie (and this is an event movie), there's no need to "rest up." There was a year between Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part I. That should be plenty of rest.


And, to be blunt, I find the last two lines, Sam, to be condescending. You're making a lot of assumptions about me and, I think, anyone who might agree.
Yeah, it has nothing to with attention spans- this was basically half of a story. That being said, I have faith that everything will pay off in the second half of the story and when you look at these two movies as one 4 hour tale, it will work well but when the story is split in half, this movie certainly leaves something to be desired when compared to the first two.
 

schan1269

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schan1269 said:
It must be the "short attention span" theatre crowd that didn't like MJ1 as well as the first two...and the comparative lack of interest in DH1.

Preambles to grande finale are supposed to be low key to rest you up.

Listen to 15 to 20 minute classical music pieces sometime. Give your self a break from the 3:21 pieces of top 40...
Commenting that Julianne is "wasted" means you think she did nothing.

What exactly is a "president no one knows about" supposed to be doing?

She plays chess. Sometimes you win chess by sitting back and letting the other side show all their moves.
 

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schan1269 said:
Commenting that Julianne is "wasted" means you think she did nothing.

What exactly is a "president no one knows about" supposed to be doing?

She plays chess. Sometimes you win chess by sitting back and letting the other side show all their moves.

What that means, and I should have been more explicit earlier, is that the script gives her nothing to justify Julianne Moore being cast in the role. She's doesn't play a major part in this film (and not in the rest of the story, as far as I remember). A large handful of actresses could have played President Coin without a problem. But they got Julianne Moore. Why? My guess is only the name recognition.


That's my problem with the casting and/or the script. Julianne Moore's considerable talents are wasted here, much like Tom Hardy in Star Trek Nemesis.


I hope that helps clarify my position.
 

schan1269

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Jason_V said:
What that means, and I should have been more explicit earlier, is that the script gives her nothing to justify Julianne Moore being cast in the role. She's doesn't play a major part in this film (and not in the rest of the story, as far as I remember). A large handful of actresses could have played President Coin without a problem. But they got Julianne Moore. Why? My guess is only the name recognition.

That's my problem with the casting and/or the script. Julianne Moore's considerable talents are wasted here, much like Tom Hardy in Star Trek Nemesis.

I hope that helps clarify my position.
So...Cate Blanchett wasted her time in Babel?
 

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As someone who read both the Hunger Games and Harry Potter books I enjoyed DH1 and MJ1 both very much.
 

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schan1269 said:
So...Cate Blanchett wasted her time in Babel?

I have a very low opinion of Babel in general, but yes. If an actor or actress is given nothing of substance to do in a movie, I would call their talents wasted in that particular movie.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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I thought President Coin's journey in Mockingjay: Part 1 was one of the more interesting parts of the movie, all the more so because it happened entirely in the background.

And as the extras on the Blu-ray make clear, Julianne Moore lobbied hard to get the role.

Jason_V said:
The problem is the book is split into two pieces and an audience can really skip this installment before the grand finale.
If you're watching these movies to experience a thrill ride, that may be true. But if you care about the plot and the characters and the story, it most certainly isn't true. At the end of Catching Fire, the rebellion was limited to isolated rioting in the outer districts and was mostly a gleam in our character's eyes. Katniss, having been betrayed by Haymitch who rescued her instead of Peeta, is emotionally devastated and no good to anybody. District 12 is still intact.

Skipping this movie would be like telling the story of the Pacific theater of World War II and skipping right from Pearl Harbor to the Battle of Okinawa. Yes, you'd get the beginning and you get the decisive final battles, but you'd lose all of the middle that provides the context and framework for understanding the endgame.

Mockingjay Part I is slower than the previous two films, it doesn't have the action or the sense of dread we got previously. It doesn't allow Katniss to inspire anyone; the relationship with Prim is almost entirely cut. I didn't get the evolution of Katniss from this rebel to someone who wants to be a public figure.
While it's undeniably slower than the previous two films, with a welcome focus on story and strategy over mindless action, I disagree entirely with your statement that it doesn't allow Katniss to inspire anyone. It doesn't get much more inspiring than that sequence in District 8.
 

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I feel the same way about Divergent. You can skip the first part and start with Insurgent without losing a lot in terms of knowing who the characters are, their relationships and this universe. You can miss Phantom Menace and about half of Attack of the Clones and know exactly what's going on in the story. My point is Mockingjay Part I should have been Mockingjay. After two movies of what you call "mindless action" (something I disagree with), the plot suddenly shifts to political machinations.


The same exact thing happened going from the Original Star Wars trilogy to Phantom Menace and everyone was up in arms.


The relationship between Katniss and Prim has been underplayed through all three movies so far and more time should have been spent there. Likewise with Gale. I still have a lot of problems with Coin...there was nothing "there" for me. At least I had a reaction to the character in the books.


All that being said, I am still a proponent of these movies (a little less of the books), but I would recommend anyone who hasn't seen them yet wait until Mockingjay Part II comes out to watch it all as a cohesive whole.
 

schan1269

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Jason_V said:
I feel the same way about Divergent. You can skip the first part and start with Insurgent without losing a lot in terms of knowing who the characters are, their relationships and this universe. You can miss Phantom Menace and about half of Attack of the Clones and know exactly what's going on in the story. My point is Mockingjay Part I should have been Mockingjay. After two movies of what you call "mindless action" (something I disagree with), the plot suddenly shifts to political machinations.

The same exact thing happened going from the Original Star Wars trilogy to Phantom Menace and everyone was up in arms.

The relationship between Katniss and Prim has been underplayed through all three movies so far and more time should have been spent there. Likewise with Gale. I still have a lot of problems with Coin...there was nothing "there" for me. At least I had a reaction to the character in the books.

All that being said, I am still a proponent of these movies (a little less of the books), but I would recommend anyone who hasn't seen them yet wait until Mockingjay Part II comes out to watch it all as a cohesive whole.
Not to derail this thread, but to see where my stance differs from yours(Apparently a wide distance if Babel's reaction means anything)...

One of the best acted and written movies in ages. Perfect in every sense of the very word...

City Island
 

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Jason_V said:
I feel the same way about Divergent. You can skip the first part and start with Insurgent without losing a lot in terms of knowing who the characters are, their relationships and this universe. You can miss Phantom Menace and about half of Attack of the Clones and know exactly what's going on in the story. My point is Mockingjay Part I should have been Mockingjay. After two movies of what you call "mindless action" (something I disagree with), the plot suddenly shifts to political machinations.

I haven't seen these movies yet, but the books frustrated me. I never bought into the worldbuilding of that society. The first book held my attention, but the two sequels were misfires for me.

The relationship between Katniss and Prim has been underplayed through all three movies so far and more time should have been spent there. Likewise with Gale. I still have a lot of problems with Coin...there was nothing "there" for me. At least I had a reaction to the character in the books.

You make a fair point, but a lot of that is inherent to the structural framework of the stories; in the first two movies, Katniss is only in the same geographic place as Prim until she leaves for the games. Since the movies (understandably) want to get to the meat of the story, the District 12 stuff is necessarily abbreviated.


I've actually been impressed with how Willow Shields has improved over the course of the movies. Prim's chat with Katniss on the main avenue of the Victor's Village in Catching Fire is really affecting, and the scene in Mockingjay Part 1 where Prim crawls into bed with Katniss after Katniss has woken up from a PTSD nightmare also really works well.


It's definitely more skeletal than it was in the books, but the movies have wrung a lot out of a relatively few number of scenes when it comes to their relationship.
 

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POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT READ THE BOOKS AND CAN READ DEEPLY BETWEEN THE LINES.


LIke HP:DH this book is too long to fit into a 2 to 2.5 hour movie and they don't make long movies like they used to, particularly when they can tack on 5 or 6 hundred million in box office (and disk sales) by splitting the book into two parts. However, IMHO they only got about 1/3 of the way through the story in MJ1. When I read the book and heard that it was a two-movie book, I though they would probably break the book near the end of the siege of District 2. So they have a lot of stuff to do in the finale of the series. (I just hope they can do a better job with the "epilogue" that Harry Potter did.)


I had no strong objection to what they put into this movie and what was left out. But I did not see any indication of a reason for Katniss' (and Haymich's) opinion of Coin as described in the book. I saw the inklings that were presented but no real reasons why they should have been there.
 

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I just want to commend an overlooked feature of this release. The 2.0 optimized for night time viewing soundtrack was well done. I live in a high density part of West L.A. When I wanted to watch this late the other night, I couldn't blast my home theater as I wanted to out of respect for my neighbors. This soundtrack was exactly what was needed, allowing me to hear the voices and still feel a bit of the impact of the action, without waking my neighbors at ungodly hours (I'm a night owl). Yes I know receivers (including mine) have features for this, but in my experience this specific one does a better job than my receivers night-viewing algorithm.
 

Adam Gregorich

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Carlo Medina said:
I just want to commend an overlooked feature of this release. The 2.0 optimized for night time viewing soundtrack was well done. I live in a high density part of West L.A. When I wanted to watch this late the other night, I couldn't blast my home theater as I wanted to out of respect for my neighbors. This soundtrack was exactly what was needed, allowing me to hear the voices and still feel a bit of the impact of the action, without waking my neighbors at ungodly hours (I'm a night owl). Yes I know receivers (including mine) have features for this, but in my experience this specific one does a better job than my receivers night-viewing algorithm.

My wife and I are going to see the sequel next week, so I am going to try to rewatch it in the next few days. I'll have to check out the 2.0 track. I will also be listening to it in 7.2.4 Dolby Atmos! :)
 

Adam Gregorich

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I didn't have a chance to check out the 2.0 track, but the Atmos mix blew me away. Kudos to the sound designers and mixers. This is what the Dolby Atmos experience at home is all about! I added more specific comments to the audio section of Brendan's review above.
 

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