Hunger Games, The: Mockingjay-Part 1 (Blu-ray) (2014)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 6-Mar-2015

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Audio Commentary-Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobsen
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Making Of-Feature Length Making of
Featurette-Songs of Rebellion: Lorde on Curating the Soundtrack
Featurette-Straight From the Heart: A Tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman
Music Video-Yellow Flicker Beat - Lorde music video
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 122:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Francis Lawrence
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jennifer Lawrence
Donald Sutherland
Julianne Moore
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Josh Hutcherson
Liam Hemsworth
Natalie Dormer

Case ?
RPI ? Music James Newton Howard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English dts 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

When fans of the popular Hunger Games books and films learnt that the final instalment of the series, comprising the book Mockingjay, would be split into two films rather than one it raised the sort of hubbub familiar to fans of previous adaptations of young adult novels-the Harry Potter books and the Twilight novels. True fans of the novels would probably be happy if their beloved books were split into a whole series of films, allowing for the depth of the characters to emerge. The most common view was, however, that the decision smacked of a shallow cash grab, squeezing the last dollar out of the audience before the series came to an inevitable conclusion. Both Twilight: Breaking Dawn and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were doorstopper sized books and therefore, arguably, deserved splitting in order to convey the full story. Mockingjay, the book, was one page shorter than the previous novel Catching Fire and not a particularly long novel. Of course, it was still huge by comparison with The Hobbit which still drew audiences despite the overblown expansion of the book.

Leaving perceptions aside the real proof in the pudding is in the eating of it. Does Mockingjay Part 1 stand-up on its own as a thrilling and satisfying instalment in the Hunger Games story? The answer is a tentative "yes" but it definitely has its shortcomings when compared with the previous films. As with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the film is arguably the long setup for the dramatic conclusion in Part 2. It is a political/war film with only hints at the action adventure story of the past.

Catching Fire came to a dramatic end. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) was trapped in a huge arena with previous successful tributes from the Districts forced to battle it out against the best of the best in a culling exercise by evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Shooting an arrow tied to a wire into the wall of the arena she literally blows the Hunger Games apart, bringing the high-tech construct down. As it turns out this was all part of a master plan by the rebels led by President Coin (Julianne Moore) and masterminded by double agent Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Katniss is airlifted out of the arena by the rebels with a very special plan in mind. She is to be the face of the revolution, uniting all the other Districts in an uprising against the Capitol. There are two, not insignificant, problems with this plan. In the first place the self-effacing Katniss is the last person to be a figurehead. Secondly, she bears the rebels a powerful grudge for taking her out of the arena whilst leaving her friend/boyfriend Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) behind to be captured by the Capitol.

Things go from bad to worse when Peeta appears on television in an interview with Caesar Flickerman telling the rebels to put down their arms. He is seen as a traitor by rebel fighters hiding out below ground in District 13 and Katniss feels increasing conflicted between the love for her friend and her "duty" to be the Mockingjay. Her relationship with Gale (Liam Hemsworth) also suffers as he is clearly dedicated beyond all else to the rebellion. Katniss is assigned a propaganda "propo" film crew led by former Capitol filmmaker Cressida (Game of Thrones Natalie Dormer).

Mockingjay Part 1 is, as said above, a combination between a political thriller and a war film. A lot of it consists of discussions between the leaders as to the best way to advance the revolution. There are only a few action set pieces, one of them the introduction into the film. To be fair, however, the Hunger Games series, outside the arenas, have not been all about action. The film is at times extremely tense particularly when intercutting between events happening in different locations. The acting is once again excellent with Lawrence giving a real complexity to her character. The character of Alma Coin has been beefed up from the book and is brought real complexity by Julianne Moore. Philip Seymour Hoffman had finished all his scenes for this film at the time of his death so his performance is free of CGI trickery. It is a film that develops the ideological differences between the Capitol and the rebels which will become more important as the final film arrives.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

Mockingjay Part 1 comes to Blu-ray in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio consistent with the original cinema presentation.

The previous films have contrasted the often miserable conditions in District 12 against the ironically beautiful environment in the games arena and the multi-coloured world of the Capitol. This film leans even heavier on the grim environments. The Capitol is rarely seen and that glorious peacock Effie Trinket is reduced to the monotonous clothes of District 13.

All this is by way of saying that although this is a brilliant looking film it is fairly drab throughout. District 13 is a concrete bunker and its inhabitants wear matching uniforms. There is no games arena in this film only the blasted environments of District 12 and the other war-torn districts. There is only a brief patch of greenery.

The flesh tones are accurate. The image quality is sharp without losing a film like appearance. Interestingly, in the feature length extras included on a separate disk the secret of the film like look was revealed. In almost every scene smoke was used to create an almost imperceptible sense of grit and graininess.

There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

There are a wealth of soundtracks available for the film on the Blu-ray disc.

This is the first Blu-ray in my collection that features an English 7.1 TrueHD Dolby Atmos Mix. For those not in the know Dolby Atmos is a method of creating even more immersive sound in movies using multiple channels and speakers. It was first used in cinemas in 2012 and has been available since mid-to-late 2014 for home theatres. It requires a receiver which supports Atmos as well as the addition of multiple speakers and some clever sound calibration.

The effect of a fully functioning Dolby Atmos soundtrack is said to create a 3-D like atmosphere putting you in the rainforest when it is raining or in the middle of a battle scene. There would have been some points in this film that would have benefited from the Dolby Atmos soundtrack. As matters stand, however, I have a receiver which supports Atmos but not the speaker installation. I'd be interested to hear from any readers who do have the full Atmos set up as to what it adds to this film.

For the majority of viewers the prime audio track will be an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.

There is a lot of dialogue in this film, which is conveyed well by the audio track. When things do get action packed the surround effects are well handled and immersive. The sub-woofer is used sparingly but effectively such as in scenes where the Capitol bombs the District 13 bunker.

The score is by James Newton Howard who delivers another effective musical accompaniment with old and new themes.Lorde provides the credit song, Yellow Flicker Beat, which was nominated for a Golden Globe.

There is also an English 2.0 Dolby Digital Optimized for Late-Night Listening, a Descriptive Audio track for the Vision Impaired and an English 5.1 Dolby Digital DTS Headphone:X Audio Track for those who want to listen on headphones and experience the full cinema sound.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

This release of the film reviewed is a two disc edition. It has some extras on the film disc and a whole other disc of extras.

Extras on the Film Disc

Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson

Another detailed commentary track from the pair.

Deleted Scenes (11.19)

There are nine deleted scenes on offer. The film itself clocks in at around two hours, making it the shortest of the series and these scenes were no doubt cut for pacing. One is particularly interesting featuring a view of the hydroponics area beneath District 13 where the food is grown for the rebels. It is interesting because rather than creating the area with CGI it was in fact a working hydroponic garden featuring 8000 plants. After all that work the scenes were completely cut from the film!

Straight From the Heart: A Tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman (11.02)

The cast and crew reflect on the genius of the man and the joy of working with him.

Songs of Rebellion: Lorde on Curating the Soundtrack (8.09)

a couple of years ago Lorde was a teenage girl living in New Zealand playing music in her bedroom. Now she is a Grammy winning artist who was invited to create a soundtrack of music in the theme of the film from major Hollywood blockbuster. Good on her...

Yellow Flicker Beat - Lorde music video

The music video for the song which appears in the credits of the film.

Extras on the Separate Disc

The Mockingjay Lives: The Making of Mockingjay - Part 1: 8-part feature-length documentary

Describing this as feature length is no exaggeration. It is over two hours of material covering every aspect of the filmmaking. The individual extras are:

There is a lot of mutual admiration going on between the different cast and production team however there is enough behind the scenes footage and interesting interviews to make the whole experience worthwhile. In particular it is always surprising and fascinating to see how much work goes into the production design, costumes and make up, something that the average guy probably misses.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

No reviews in Region A have been posted as at the time of writing. I suspect the features will be the same but will update my review if anything significant is included in other Regions.

Summary

Mockingjay Part 1 is a dense talky film which won't satisfy action/adventure fans looking for their fix of arrow firing Katniss Everdeen. It is a surprisingly adult political drama spiked with war scenes. There will be more action in the second Part but those who haven't read the book and are expecting a simple good vs evil conclusion will be in for a shock.

As with the earlier films this is a good looking if understandably drab looking film but with a strong sound stage. The extras are voluminous.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Friday, March 06, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE