The Hunger Games: MockingJay—Part 1

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ended with Katniss being rescued from the Hunger Games arena, leaving Peeta behind. Wracked with survivor’s guilt, she finds herself in the mythical District 13, reuniting with her little sister, mother, and best friend, who somehow escaped District 12 after the Capitol and its nefarious President Snow bombed it into oblivion following Katniss’ escape. District 13 is ready to go on the offensive against Snow and his cronies, but they need Katniss’ rebellious and inspiring message to unite the other districts in the uprising, and it’s up to Plutarch Heavensbee to enhance our heroine’s image for the masses.

The second film in the series, Catching Fire, was outstanding, and Mockingjay’s new screenwriters Peter Craig and Danny Strong had a lot to live up to. To make things even more challenging for the pair, Mockingjay was probably the weakest book of the Suzanne Collins trilogy, and Lionsgate decided to release it in two parts to maximize revenue. This results in some pacing issues akin to a rush-hour traffic jam: a lot of stop and go. with Arri Alexa digital cameras, the look of the film is like the previous installments. Detail is off the charts, especially in close-ups, and the film’s color shading changes from scene to scene, depending on the mood, mostly amber and blue hues. Shadow detail is commendable, especially for something shot digitally, and the CGI blends in well with the live-action shots.

Get ready for Dolby Atmos because here it comes, and Lionsgate is all-in on the new audio format. Having newly installed an Atmos system in my theater, I was more than willing to put it to the test, and Mockingjay shows the best of what object-based audio is capable of. For those of you without Atmos, the core track is a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 offering. Regardless of your flavor, dialogue is clear and concise, and imaging is phenomenal. Atmos really comes alive in the action scenes, especially when the Capitol tries to bomb District 13 into submission: The above-head atmospheric effects place you in the rebels’ underground hideout and you can’t help but duck for cover.

Supplements include an audio com- mentary, an homage to Philip Seymour Hoffman, some deleted scenes, and a music video, along with a comprehensive seven-part look at the production that runs over two hours and covers various aspects of the filmmaking process. Finally, there’s a sneak peak at Insurgent, another popular teen book series adapted by Lionsgate.

Studio: 2014, Lionsgate
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos/True HD 7.1
Length: 123 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth