The Movie (and series as a whole)
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the seventy-sixth Hunger Games.”
I’ve had a very rocky relationship with the Hunger Games series as a whole. I personally thought the first film was a complete mess when it came to its camera work, editing and direction that left it in almost an unwatchable state with its shakey-cam and quick cuts (to avoid an R rating). Luckily the following film, Catching Fire, addressed and fixed all of the issues from the first film giving it a great footing to continue the rest of the series. I even saw it twice in theatres, including an IMAX screening that was really great visually and worked perfect for that format.
Sadly it would seem that the series peaked too early and what we have left is Mockingjay (parts one and two) to clumsily tie the story together and wrap it up. Whoever is in charge with splitting these films, please only apply it to when it really needs it, cause this certainly didn’t need it. If there’s one thing I hated about part one, it would be the multitude of scenes where pretty much nothing happened, and could have been cut and nothing would have been missed. While it did leave on a good cliffhanger for part two, I barely remember part one due to it being so damn bland. After reading about the directors original intentions on where to break the film in half, I would have loved the bigger cliffhanger. It would have been incredibly ballsy.
Here’s a brief summary to anyone who hasn’t been watching these films for the past four years: With the events of Part One now over, Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, must now be the figurehead of the revolution and invade the Capital to overthrow President Snow in a battle that will decide the future of Panem.
So now here we are at Part Two of the Mockingjay films and going in, I’m already tired of the Katniss storyline and would honestly rather see the events unfolding from another point of view. It even shows in Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, as it is very clear she is ready to move on, due to her sounding and looking bored in nearly every scene. One of the master strokes that the film could have shown, was the actual revolution happening and how many lives were at stake in the many battles, but unfortunately we are delegated to Katniss and going in after all the important events have happened with shot after shot of war torn streets to walk through.
The whole film feels like a video game with its level after level of traps and bad guys to avoid with a boss thrown in here and there to spice it up, but unfortunately someone else has the controller and wont let you just kill Peeta. It should be noted that I have not read any of the source material and have stayed away from spoilers as much as possible before seeing the film and it came off to me like it was in a huge rush to do as much as possible, since it was the ending. Nothing ever felt organic, but merely felt like a checklist that had to be completed before they could move on to the next event. I know some people might be happy to see the book come to life on the screen, but I thought the purpose of an adaptation was to translate and improve upon the source material when necessary, not to just wade through it.
The Hunger Games Saga is a rocky one with it being just passable, with one real highlight in the entire four-film run. Would I recommend it? I guess, but it’s definitely not something to go out of one’s way to see. I feel like in twenty to thirty years this will be remade for a new audience and in a better way to not be as dull.
The series as a whole: 5/10
Mockingjay Part 2: 5.5/10
“I’ve been watching you, and you watching me.”
Presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Mockingjay does an alright job on the visuals while not reaching top tier. Shot digitally using the Arri Alexa, the sad part about this presentation is the muted colors and extremely dark sequences that make the video murky and at times, feel underlit. There are some times where noise is apparent, but there is no blanding or halos. I have to base this one just on what I see, and what I see is just blandly done photography that leaves the image feeling very two dimensional, instead of having any real pop to it. It’s by no means bad, but just very middling.
“Real or not real?”
Presented in a Dolby Atmos (7.1.4) Dolby True HD (7.1 core) mix, Mockingjay comes to life in a fantastic manner. At first I was worried, with the pre-menu trailers and main menu being extremely quiet and in a 2.0 presentation, I thought my system was dying. To my surprise once the film started my system came to life, loud and proud. Subwoofer usage is commanding, especially with some of the traps later in the film and surround usage is always engaging even in the quieter moments. Dialogue is always given priority and is never drowned out. The disc also contains a Dolby 2.0 mix “optimized for late-night listening” I guess for the sleepovers? It basically dampened everything and gave dialogue a boost I guess when you just want to torture yourself and not use your system effectively.
Packaging and Bonus Features
“You should have been the Mockingjay.”
The blu ray set comes in a standard blu ray case (yay! Not eco-friendly!) with the cover design being just an ok cover. What happened to that awesome IMAX poster art they did with Catching Fire and Part 2? Why can’t that be a flip cover or even a steelbook art design? I feel like this was slapped together in order to get it out as fast as possible to the market. Lets talk about disc art. Seriously whoever decides this, please give use cool disc art so it can differentiate the outside art from the disc art. There have been some really cool disc art in the past, with some great examples being Tron, Lord of the Rings and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to name a few. Please just put more thought into things like this in the future.
Listed twice on the back of the packing as having “over 5 hours” of bonus features, but that also includes the director commentary that is well over two hours. Not to fear though, while there isn’t everything I’d like to see, they do cram as much as they can from what they could get. The highlight of the disc is the “Pawns no More” making of with an eight-part behind the scenes from almost every aspect of the film that was really cool to see the film come together and the process, from filming to post production. I do feel like in a year or so, there will be a complete film collection with very deluxe packaging and bonus features out the wazoo.
– Digital HD Copy
– Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson
– Pawns No More: The Making of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
– The Hunger Games: A Photographic Journey
– Cinna’s Sketchbook: Secrets of the Mockingjay Armor
– Panem on Display: The Hunger Games: The Exhibition
– Jet to the Set
“Welcome to the New Panem.”
Ah the Hunger Games is finally over, and with it maybe dystopian, teen, romance, coming of age, revolution films might be finally over. This blu ray set is adequate with providing an alright video presentation and a powerful audio mix to rock your theatre. Bonus features are well over three hours and the film is all right. Recommended for the fans unless you want to wait for a deluxe set in the future.