The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

REVIEW: Mockingjay Part 1 Is The Ultimate Game Changer

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** THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE!**

The Hunger Games Franchise: Come for the action. Stay for the bigger, more important message.

KATNISSIf you’ve been following reviews for Mockingjay Part 1 so far, you’ve probably noticed some media outlets griping about the change of pace or fewer action sequences or the lack of the games. But The Hunger Games has always been about more than just the games. The first two films did an excellent job conveying the danger and inequality in Panem through the games, but the story cannot simply be the games, otherwise the whole message Suzanne Collins intended for her audience is lost. The franchise is about the tragedies of war but also the need to question society’s parameters and to fight against injustice, even if it comes at a personal cost. That’s right, folks– We’re moving past the “Whoa, all these people are in a bubble trying to kill each other!” pull and into legitimate political thriller territory.

Mockingjay Part 1 is a tantalizing slow burn. Its pacing, emotion, and action are different from the other films, but in the best way possible. It starts out dark, ends pitch black, and finds moments of levity, anger, sadness, and just about everything else in between. As Katniss attempts to adjust to life in District 13 and reluctantly accepts her role as the voice of the rebellion, a new story element unfolds into something much deeper. Katniss and District 13 go back and forth in the ultimate game of cat and mouse with President Snow, one in which everyone they know is a pawn. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone supporting her in District 13 is really truly on her side, either. The result is a harrowing journey to incite a revolution, one that featured fewer action sequences but kept us more emotionally invested than any Hunger Games movie before it.

Mockingjay-Part-1-Phillip-Seymour-Hoffman-and-Julianne-MooreThere’s a stunning tension created throughout the film by the entire cast. Jennifer Lawrence proved herself as our Katniss long ago, but earns new respect as she handles Katniss’ fragile emotional state with realism and care. Donald Sutherland is an absolute maniacal genius now that he has a chance to flex those baddie muscles. Julianne Moore is a smart, welcome addition as President Coin, who plays beautifully off the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee. The decision to keep Effie in the story was a stellar one and Elizabeth Banks is more perfectly Effie than ever before. Liam Hemsworth plays Gale with much more vulnerability and depth than recent promos have suggested– the rage scene is definitely there, but many others prior to that make it easy to see just how truly torn he is. However, if there’s a “Stepping Up To The Plate” award for this movie, it goes to Josh Hutcherson. Peeta’s transformation is gut-wrenching and visceral, the stuff that makes your breath catch in your throat every time he comes on screen because the agony and instability feels so real. It’s the first time in the series Josh has really been asked to be something beyond the caring, careful version of Peeta we all know so well and he exceeds expectations.

There is still action in this film but it isn’t scene-to-scene as it was when Katniss fought off danger after danger in the arenas. However, please don’t confuse less action with a plodding pace. This movie’s action sticks in your brain and feels much more warranted than in previous films. It is not, as the games were, for anyone’s entertainment. Even in the scenes without explosions and hovercrafts and arrows flying, there’s still plenty of things happening and for us, the entire film felt like it moved very quickly, faster than its actual run time.

mockingjay-part-1-peeta-beatenBecause this movie is a Part 1, you’re not going to get instant gratification around every turn (another sticking point for critics, it seems). But ask yourself– Did you really with The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, either? Francis Lawrence, Danny Strong, and Peter Craig used the opportunity to get more in depth with the story very wisely. Rather than being thrust into District 13, there’s a world-building that you don’t always get in film. President Snow and Plutarch in particular benefit from the books expansion into two parts, in terms of both screen time and character development. Boggs, Cressida, and the film crew are also rewarded a richer understanding than we’d expected. Random gushing: Elden Henson as Pollux was easily our favorite part of the film crew without saying a word, though everyone else played their part very well too.

For all the guessing in the world at the ending, we will only tell you this: You know the ending, but you don’t. You’ll leave the theater feeling charged up and overwhelmed, already eager for the final film.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the film is perfect. We have a few gripes but realize that in the grand scheme of things, they’re pretty minor. We’ll nitpick at a later date because to do so would be to spoil everyone. Even so, we know that Lawrence Squared and the rest of the team have delivered us a stellar film that is sharp and thought-provoking.

We can’t wait to discuss it with all of you!

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Gale or Not Gale? Mockingjay Part 1 and RAAAAAAAGE

When we saw the first promo spot that featured Gale talking smack about Peeta, there was a sense of foreboding. We actually asked “If there were a richter scale for asshole behavior, how far are we pushing Gale here?”

Gale is angry at ALL OF Y'ALL!

Gale is angry at ALL OF Y’ALL!

The answer? Pretty damn far, it seems.

First, let’s establish something. On the whole, Gale was never incredibly nice in Mockingjay. His thoughts on warfare were full-on destructive and awful like…

“If I could hit a button and kill every living soul working for the Capitol, I would do it. Without Hesitation.”

Or this gem regarding his plan to implode The Nut, block off the only exit, and let the people inside, including many innocents, slowly suffocate:

“Is that everyone’s problem? That our enemies might have a few hour to reflect on the fact that they’re dying, instead of just blowing them to bits?”

Or ya know… developing a double-exploding bomb identical to the one that killed Prim meant to target rescue workers, though those bombs that fell on THE DAY may or may not have been his.

Gale has some rage. He’s a fiery one, as Suzanne Collins pointed out on a number of occasions in the novels. BUT Book!Gale usually has a halting point: Katniss, namely in discussing her relationship with Peeta.

As long as he doesn't turn into this, plzkthx

As long as he doesn’t turn into this, plzkthx

In the beginning of Mockingjay, Gale is surprisingly patient with Katniss. He wants her to be the Mockingjay as much as everyone else, but he knows the method isn’t peer pressure and constantly prodding her. It may be manipulative underneath at all, but he does come off like he’s trying to be supportive. After the Peeta videos, he has his infamous “He’s still trying to protect you” line and generally seems sympathetic to Peeta’s plight.

Movie!Gale’s hate, thusfar, seems mainly directed toward Peeta. All that stuff about how he’d rather Peeta die than do what he did? Those veiled accusations of betrayal? IT’S NOT COOL. After everything he’s been through, Gale does have the right to be angry about a lot of things. The idea that he’d project that anger toward Peeta’s forced attempts to “support” The Capitol isn’t even all that implausible, if it was one outburst. We’ve only seen a couple instances, but when that’s all your see of Gale, it comes off like he’s just one uber-jealous mofo.

My least favorite book of 2014 (lest I should read something worst in the next six weeks or so) was one that solved a half-baked love triangle by having one character suddenly become a crazed verbally-abusive control freak in order to make the other more favorable. The sudden change was totally out of character and left me angry, hating the book and all its lazy, convenient writing. We just never ever ever want to feel that way about Mockingjay. We don’t want Gale to become some ANGRY RAAAAAAGE MONSTER that the audience is quick to hate.

What we want– No, NEEEEEEED— in this movie is to see that Gale is angry, but his anger is mostly at The Capitol and sometimes misdirected elsewhere. We need to see that underneath it all, he doesn’t hate or blame Peeta for doing what he did and Katniss for feeling what she does.

Thankfully, the full clip Liam Hemsworth has been taking around the late night TV circuit shows that Gale is seriously scarred by everything that went down in District 12 on the day of the firebombing. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that teasers just don’t give you the full picture. Gale could be remorseful or admit to anger issues, we’re just not seeing it in the spots. He can be angry, but it has to be balanced.

So on a scale of 1 to asshole, let’s give Gale another few days before we assign any numbers for sure, okay?

He’s Normally A 6. Way Higher In District 2. But About Peeta? Naaaaaaw!
The Girl With The Pearl

Mockingjay Still-O-Rama Reactions

Mockingjay is less than two weeks away! Besides press tour interviews galore (and the return to the entire cast seemingly getting sick at once), there’s something else coming in droves: NEW STILLS AND BEHIND THE SCENES IMAGES!

Of course, you don’t just see a still. You see it and you have a reaction. Sometimes it’s just a basic “Oh that’s cool!” or “Meh”, but sometimes it’s something much bigger. So let’s share those more substantial reactions:

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Effie’s eyebrows are in a semi-natural state! Now are they gray-ish from years of over-treatment, plucking, etc? Or are we actually supposed to believe that homegirl has naturally light blonde eyebrows? Because as a natural blonde, that does not happen! Wait, what’s Effie’s natural hair color? Does SHE even know?!

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WIIIIIIIIIG! It’s like “The Mole” scene from Austin Powers for us at certain points. It’s not a bad wig– it’s actually a good one, hairline-wise and all that jazz. But you started thinking about how shiny and perfectly wavy her hair looks and then OH YEAH IT’S A WIG. Because nobody’s real hair ever stays that nice. We mean, Woody has a wig too but his reflects his character, thus is a total mess.

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Is that District 13 schematic just like… their screensaver or something? When they don’t have anything relevant to their missions, is that always just there in the background like “HEY GUYS! THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE!”? We’ve seen a lot of that sucker!

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Paylor in contrast to Katniss, Gale, and the film squad is beautiful. She’s got this very salt-to-the-Earth look that’s we’re digging. She is a part of a grassroot rebel movement. They don’t no stinkin’ armor! Okay, they need it, but they don’t have it and they fight anyway. And that is true badassery.

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Snow’s office is awesome and all, but there are young people lined up in Capitol clothing in the upper right-hand corner of this photo. Why are they there? Are they supporters? Could they be consorts toted around the city like Finnick and Johanna were? What are you doing to them Snow?!

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So you’re telling me that the dude with the cowboy hat and mutton chops is NOT in the movie? DAMMIT! DAMMIT ALL TO HELL! WHY NOT?!

The Mockingjay Clip That Left Us With One Wish

Have you been hiding in an underground bunker recently? If so, you my not know this already, but… THE FIRST MOCKINGJAY CLIP IS HERE! And it’s a heart-wrencher!

OBSERVE!

For people who don’t know the books, this clip is misleading. It almost looks like Peeta is friendly with Caesar Flickerman and possibly even enjoying their conversation. Sure, you can hear the hitch in his voice, but someone might assume it’s because of the tense subject– the surprise ending of the Quarter Quell. His tone could even represent his disappointment in what Katniss did and shiny new alliance with The Capitol. But we also think this clip is meant to be misleading.

Of course, we know better, but think about it: Katniss is really the one person who believes that Peeta isn’t willingly working in conjunction with the Capitol. The audience shouldn’t fully believe that he’s being held against his will, either. We’ll see Katniss advocating his innocence constantly, slowly the audience will start to believe her despite every other character being skeptical because she’s the protagonist, only to see him attempt to murder her somewhere toward the end, and it’ll be a glass case of emotion, Ron Burgundy style.

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I’m imagining that clip wise, we probably won’t see much Peeta outside of this one. Because it sets up that “Wait.. is Peeta a traitor now?” mindset that will make moviegoers eager to solve the mystery. Anything to negate that would be kind of counter-productive. Of course, that doesn’t mean other clips won’t mention Peeta. He’s kind of a big discussion point in this one and scenes discussing what should be done with him will be pretty spoiler-free on the grand scale of the story.

Another thing we’re loving about this? The dialogue is very, very similar to the book. With this script, screenwriters seem to have really taken the time to figure out what quotes from the book really work on film rather than simply trying to rephrase everything. We think it’s a really nice homage to the original story.

Oh, And Our One Wish? MOAR CLIPS!

The Girl With The Pearl

Win The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Soundtrack Prize Pack!

HAPPY MOCKINGJAY PART 1 RELEASE MONTH, HUNGER GAMES FANDOM! It’s a damn good time to be a fan!

HG_Mockingjay_Soundtrack_Approved Cover

While early impressions of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack have left fans pretty polarized, there are some people who really, reeeeeeally want this soundtrack ASAP thank you very much. If you’re one of those fans, good news is that you can pre-order the soundtrack now! The better news is that we’ve got a treat for you!

How about a sweet Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack prize pack? Each prize pack includes…

  • CD of Soundtrack
  • 12”x12” limited edition Soundtrack lithograph
  • 12”x12” limited edition Yellow Flicker Beat lithograph

FIVE lucky fans will be winning this prize pack by this time next week, so get your entries in now!

Want some reassurance that you’ll have the soundtrack in your possession on November 17th? Pre-order it now!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER VIA RAFFLECOPTER!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FANSITE EXCLUSIVE: New ‘Peeta’ TV Spot From THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gents! We’ve got the exclusive debut of a stunning new TV spot for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1!

Ready to get emotional? This spot is going to take your Peeta feels to a WHOLE. NEW. LEVEL.

WE CAN’T EVEN HANDLE IT!

Lionsgate has clearly noticed that all it takes is a teeny bit of Peeta to drive this fandom into squealing fangirly oblivion.

Though we’ve seen the footage previously, seeing it all re-cut with Peeta’s full warning speech to Katniss layered over each scene is tense, thrilling, and exactly what we need from these TV spots! Readers know what’s coming and anticipate the fallout eagerly, while movie oriented fans will be intrigued by all the drama.

We’re a little surprised by just how much of Katniss and Peeta’s struggles have been revealed in the TV spots, but you know what? BRING THE HINTS AND REVEALS! We love them! They give off a wonderful sense of foreboding! If this is what they’re willing to show, what secrets and other big, incredible scenes are nestled away until movie time?

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 will be out on November 21st!

Does The Mockingjay Soundtrack Strike The Right Tone?

Yes, we’re doing a Part Deux on our original Mockingjay soundtrack post. Because there’s a lot to say on this baby. SORRY NOT SORRY!

Gorgeous drawing but.. NO NOT REALLY.

Gorgeous drawing but.. NO NOT REALLY.

When it was first announced that Lorde would be curating the soundtrack, we were very apprehensive. Now that the full soundtrack listing and the first couple songs are here, we kinda feel like our dreadful gut instinct had it right (and genuinely, we hate it when that happens.)

Them There Eyes noted that all but a couple names are unrecognizable to her. She did call herself an “old fogie” and I’m gonna give her that (or maybe “old folkie”), because I recognize about half. And then I researched the other half. Some say that recognition isn’t the important element but YES. YES IT IS. For a soundtrack especially, you want artists that people are interested in enough to buy the songs simply because they’re a part of it.

That’s why Lorde was chosen to lead this sucker up. She’s very popular right now and she has rabidly creepy fangirls who probably don’t care who else is on the soundtrack as long as she is:

And I’ll admit, “Yellow Flicker Beat” is good. Not my anthem of the year, probably not going to be added to the personal collection, but we don’t cry whenever it comes on the radio. Still, THAT is the best this soundtrack has offered us to far. “Meh.”

On top of that, this doesn’t seem so much like Lorde curating as promoting herself. She’s part of FIVE SONGS on the fourteen song soundtrack, possibly six, as there’s still another song that has yet to be announced. Surely she was going to be involved and do at least a couple songs, but this honestly feels a bit like a Lorde EP and some other stuff thrown in there under the guise of promoting a movie.

Even when the music provided isn’t reeeeeally hers and crafted by other great artists like The Chemical Brothers and Miguel– yes, we actually like The Chemical Brothers’ other music and Miguel’s more typical babymakin’ R&B music style– the product is SO DISAPPOINTINGLY AWFUL.



“This Is Not A Game”?
THIS IS A NOT A SONG! If this, in the eyes of the record label, is the second best track the album has to offer up, we’re absolutely not buying this. Even the site that originally posted the song first said something along the lines of “It takes some getting used to, but if you listen to it a few times, you’ll warm up to it.” Having a background in journalism, my initial reaction was “Oh sweetie, you’re just getting paid to say that. *pats head*” And again, we usually enjoy the artists involved, so we’re baffled. WHAT. THE. FUUUUCK.

Some people are arguing that the intention of the artists has been to stray from their other music to better suit the soundtrack, but as Rory discussed with us on Twitter, lines like “Word to Gucci, that’s my hitta” don’t have a damn thing to do with The Hunger Games. And they’re not negated by the fact that lines about starting a revolution are in the same song. Anyone in music can sing about starting a revolution and they do… often. So really, how is this about The Hunger Games other than getting put on the soundtrack again?

Though Lorde has claimed to have some pretty eclectic music tastes in the past, the soundtrack just doesn’t reflect that. AT ALL. To us, that’s the unsatisfying part. The Catching Fire soundtrack is still our favorite because it offered a nice mix of different musical styles and artists. There was some straight pop, some hip hop, some folk… All in one happy bundle! The Mockingjay Part 1 is an electropop hip hop mash-up with a couple outliers. There’s barely anything that qualifies as diversity. The first soundtrack did this with folk music (with the exception of Kid Cudi’s “The Ruler And The Killer”, which stood out in the best way possible), but that soundtrack was also advertised specifically as an Appalachian folk collection derived from District 12.

Tell us, what does a mostly EDM collection represent? District 13? The Capitol? Panem as a whole? We don’t feel that it does. That’s why soundtracks need diversity. And this one failed majorly at that. It’s not about hating on hip hop as surely someone will surely turn around and say (we don’t hate hip hop or fun, beat-thumping music, you know!) but this soundtrack, from what we’ve seen and heard, is a better representation of a frat party or a club than the journey of The Hunger Games characters in Mockingjay. And when you’re not much into music and you want songs that help you connect to a story you love, this outcome sucks.

SUCKS, WE SAY!

The Girl With The Pearl