The opening scene of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is one of the most effective moments in this film series so far. It shows how strongly talented Jennifer Lawrence and Sam Claflin are, while driving home how psychologically devastating the Games are. If the past two films have taught us anything, the games are hardly over.
Mockingjay Part 1 continues with Katniss Everdeen living in the resurrected, underground District 13. With Peeta in the Capitol’s custody, Katniss strikes a deal with District 13’s President Coin. She’ll be the face of the rebellion, if they help get Peeta and the other Victors out of the Capitol.
It’s hard to judge Mockingjay: Part 1, knowing that the Part 2 is very vital to the success of the overall story. Yet, it does a stunning job setting us up for the end. The rebellion scenes are well-executed, emotional, and most importantly memorable. As I watched the film for a second time, I got excited when I remembered certain scenes were coming up.
Unsurprisingly, the cast brings the film to another level. Jennifer Lawrence has captured Katniss’ broken and guilt-ridden psyche. Josh Hutcherson’s role as Peeta is brief, but when Peeta makes that surprise emotional switch, it’s hard to believe it’s the same actor. The supporting cast is great. This can’t be said enough but Elizabeth Banks is pitch-perfect as Effie Trinket. Julianne Moore is stoic as President Coin, and it’s bittersweet to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his final roles as the clever Plutarch Heavensbee.
The Blu-Ray includes a host of special features. Fans will enjoy the Making-Of Documentary. It’s a lengthy piece of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. It’s not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but if you’re a big fan or curious about the filmmaking of certain scenes, it’s better to listen to the director and producer commentary.
The Philip Seymour Hoffman tribute was an unexpected yet appreciated feature. His loss is still being heavily felt, and it’s nice for everyone to take a moment to honor his memory and incredible work.
Another favorite is the “Songs of Rebellion: Lorde on Curating the Soundtrack,” featuring Lorde and her fantastic single, “Yellow Flicker Beat.” It’s almost a shame that The Hunger Games soundtracks don’t get more love, as they’re well-curated. Anyone who loved this particular soundtrack is sure to enjoy this featurette. (The music video for “Yellow Flicker Beat” is one of my favorite videos ever, by the way.)
Finally, the majority of deleted scenes are barely scenes, just snippets cut off from the major ones that made the movie. It was a good call, letting go of some of these, seeing that the movie is long enough as it is. I did like the scenes between Peeta and President Snow, and Katniss and Haymitch, but I can see why they were cut from the film.
Also included is a sneak peek of the other popular YA dystopian franchise, The Divergent Series: Insurgent. Even though I’ve read the book, this sneak peek gave me more insight in what they’re trying to do with this movie than any of the previous trailers had.
For being half of a movie, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is pretty good, and the Blu-ray loaded with special features is worth checking out if you’re a massive fan of the series.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital HD today.