Mockingjay Part One Review

Monday, November 24, 2014

Paper Bindings - Mockingjay Part One Review

This Friday, a few of us went out and saw Mockingjay.

Which, if you happen to live under a rock or in a cave and are therefore unaware, is the latest installment in the films based off of the Hunger Games trilogy. We were so excited about it that we knew, even before we entered the theater, that we would be writing a blog entry about it. If it was great we were going to be ecstatic, and if it was bad we were going to be angry, so you know, a lot was on the line (namely our sanity).

So, let me put the rest of our readers out of their misery and let you know what we thought of it...

Stephanie: Book: 4 stars; Film: 4.5 stars
Tisha: Book: 4 stars; Film: 4 stars
Tracy: Book: 4.5 stars; Film: 4.5 stars

So, anyone who was as excited about this movie of us can breath a sigh of relief. It was awesome.

If you are interested in details about it's awesomeness, read on! But, beware, there may be spoilers ahead. We tried to avoid them, but there is some comparison of the books and films, and well: spoiler alert. However, if you skip that section you should be fine!

Book vs. Film

First:: Entertainment Weekly's take

Stephanie: Full disclosure: I’ve only read Mockingjay once, and that was a while ago. But considering I gave the book 4 stars (barely), and I gave the movie 4.5, I assume any changes they made met with my approval. The link above gives a nice list of the major differences, all of which worked well. I think what made the difference for me was the fact that being outside of Katniss’s head took away just enough angst to keep it from becoming too unremittingly depressing, which was my biggest problem with the book. It’s only part one though, so we’ll see what happens. I’m still holding out hope that Finnick gets a reprieve… doubtful, but a girl can hope. I also was pretty close to guessing the cut-off point, and I was very satisfied with where they actually decided to end it. It left me wanting more, but content with leaving the theater. Not happy mind, because I would have loved to be able to watch it straight through, but content.

Tisha: “Mockingjay” is my least favorite out of the trilogy, by far. Furthermore, it is also my least favorite film of out the three made. It think it’s because compared to the first two, nothing really happens. Still, I liked that Collins kept everything within the realm of possibility of how much a role a seventeen year old girl would really have in a war. For the most part the film kept to the book, though the most jarring is that it’s suppose to be quite clear that Coin does not like Katniss. However, in this version Coin is very kind, even sweet, to her. How that all works out with what happens in the second half of “Mockingjay” is yet to be seen. There were also a few minor changes, that don’t really change anything significant. It does come off a half a movie though which is another reason why I didn’t like it.

Tracy: I think the fact that the book is so well know is hurting perception of this movie a bit. All the other reviews I’ve read so far have the critics complaining at some point that it’s “only half a movie” or that “everything good in ‘Mockingjay’ is yet to come”. This is a bit unfair because I think “Mockingjay” is a whole movie and a pretty damn good one at that. It’s a fine adaptation and as Stephanie said, having it be in movie form allows us to get outside Katniss’ head a bit. We get to see more of what’s happening around her and I think that’s the best thing about this book to film adaptation. “Hunger Games” the film version may have watered down the book to the point of being somewhat pointless (especially that last third of the film) but “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay” both don’t shy away from the horrors of Katniss’ story. I loved “Mockingjay” the book more than “Catching Fire” and oddly I feel the opposite about the films - but only slightly. That said, “Mockingjay” is still a kick ass movie and loads better than the film version of “The Hunger Games”. I can’t wait for Part 2!


Stephanie: I’m not going to list all of the awards that the actors from this movie have accumulated over the years. (Hint: it’s a lot, especially if you count the honor of being nominated) What I will say is that this film is well-acted all around. Not just from the actors like Hoffman, Harrelson, and Lawrence, who were predictably wonderful, but also by Banks, Hemsworth, and Hutcherson. Banks was straight out fun to watch, her Effie is pitch perfect even without her having the books for reference. Hemsworth has improved exponentially since the first movie, so I actually look forward to seeing how he handles the material in the next film. And Hutcherson, who I do not like, actually did very well. I never approved of his casting as Peeta, and while he still isn’t perfect he certainly hasn’t given me much to complain about (beyond the superficial). So I guess I need to leave him alone, lol. All kidding aside, everyone was fantastic and Jennifer Lawrence shined at the heart of the film. You can tell she deserves all of the accolades that she regularly receives.

Tisha: With the caliber of actors and numerous awards between them I was not surprised at how great the acting was. However, from the non - Academy award winners Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, I was amazed at their work. What Hutcherson was going to do with Peeta’s transformation was what I most looking forward to and he did not disappoint. Hemsworth had the most to do this film and he conveyed all the mixed and complicated emotions of Gale. I still have chills from his “It’ll pass” line.

Tracy: “Mockingjay” has a fine assortment of actors. Tons of Oscar winners and nominees - I’m looking at you Jennifer Lawrence, Philip Seymour Hoffman (RIP), Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, and Julianne Moore- and other notable actors such as Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Elizabeth Banks, and Stanley Tucci. I’ll even throw a bone to Josh Hutcherson (who’s Peeta has really won me over on him) and Liam Hemsworth. Also let’s not forget “Game of Thrones” and “The Tudors’” Natalie Dormer ,Sam Claflin and even Diana Ross’ son Evan Ross.This awesome cast does not disappoint. Everyone is on their game and all help tell the story. It’s hard not to feel for Gale as he tells Katniss that “It’ll pass,” in regards to her feeling about him, Peeta as he’s being tortured by the Capital or even what happens to the adult characters. Moore presents a slightly different Coin from the books. Her Coin is vulnerable yet cold and she does it all with ease. Elizabeth Banks provides the comic relief but even she adds a tragic complexity to a character who’s not even suppose to be in the movie. Sutherland still oozes evil on screen - as he should. He was made for this role.

Cinematography and Music

Stephanie: I don’t know much about cinematography, but I know that this film worked because of the visuals just as much as it did because of the acting. There were some absolutely gorgeous shots in this movie, as well as some devastating ones. And the music. Oh, the music. Especially “The Hanging Tree”. I am haunted by Jennifer Lawrence’s version of the song, it gave me chills in the theater and it’s still stuck in my head.

Tisha: The scenery of District 13 with all the shots of the spiral staircases mirrored that of the spiral levels of the Tribute quarters of “Catching Fire”, which I thought was fascinating - perhaps to emphasize that they are still in the Games? Of course the shots of Katniss seeing what happened to her neighbors was devastating. And the music - “The Hanging Tree”’s tune was not how I imagined it, but I loved it anyway.

Tracy: One thing about “Mockingjay” that I love more than the other two films is the cinematography. This a beautifully shot film. For example, during Jennifer Lawrence’s haunting song “The Hanging Tree”, there’s this “Schindler's List” like shot of people from one of the Districts joining in her song and banding together to fight the Capital. They’re marching in formation with gray overtones and this vintage feel to it all like we’ve seen this before in a not too distant past that’s simply amazing. The mise-en-scène or “placing on stage” is a mix of tight and wide shots, light and dark, and the past mixed in with the futuristic. It’s very cool. The music is great as well. It’s scored by James Newton Howard. I loved his work on “The Village” ( yes, yes I know, I’m the only person who loves that movie), the theme song to “ER” and “Catching Fire” and he’s outdone himself here. Go listen to Jennifer Lawrence’s “The Hanging Tree”. 

It’ll stay with you for days.

I hate the way this sounds but “Mockingjay” just comes off as more of a “real” film than the other two. It’s crafted more like a serious art film then the third movie in a blockbuster franchise. Blockbusters are all well and good but I love that “Mockingjay’ (and “Catching Fire” to some extent) has something to say (about politics, about the media, and about war) and isn’t afraid to say it - weekend gross be damned.
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Stephanie is a tutor who loves helping people improve and excel. She loves a good story, so is obsessed with books, films, TV, and comics. A regular geek with a heart of gold ;)


  1. Good review. Felt like a manipulative cash-grab, especially considering that this didn't have to be two parts. I'll still see the next one, but I'm just a bit ticked off about this one.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I agree, I don't think it needed to be two parts, except only to make the film not too long - hopefully when I see the next one it'll change my mind (like Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 & 2, though I think two was needed to wrap up six previous books and story lines not two, but I digress lol).

    2. Thanks for commenting! I agree that the split is a pain especially the year gap in between. That long of a wait is ridiculous and greedy. Deathly Hallows had a much larger book and series to wrap up and they only had a 9 month wait. By the time part 2 rolls around the footage will be two years old. I feel for the actors promoting something that old like its new next year (okay considering that they make millions I don't feel too bad but you know what I mean).

    3. Thanks for the feedback! I agree that the 'four-part' trilogy thing is a money-grab, but I disagree about being ticked off by this movie, lol. I was really skeptical when I heard it announced as a two-parter, but the movie itself won me over. I think The Hobbit and Breaking Dawn are much more egregious examples of Hollywood greed. Still, I get where you are coming from :)

  2. *sniffles* I WILL get to see this soon....hopefully.


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