Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mockingjay Part 1 Review

Team WtoD12!

No Spoilers!!

     If you've followed us for a couple years, you'd know that Mockingjay is personally my favorite book (Well, #2 to The Silmarillion). We spent one year in 2012 researching and plotting out the Mockingjay split to prove to fans of the potential. Then these past couple months we examined the first half of Mockingjay chapter by chapter.  I was overcome with intense emotion after watching Part 1 to realize that the film follows our graph pretty closely. I've always thought our graph had a little too much in it, and was quite sure at least half of it would go by the wayside. THIS IS NOT THE CASE!! Mockingjay Part 1 is a film, at long last, made for fans. So stop worrying about what the critics are saying because if you love Mockingjay you will love this film.
    I felt like most of the scenes I was saying all the lines along with the film, that is how close to the book it is. If they left something out, it was because it would have disrupted the tone of the film. Anything they might have left out is very forgivable because of how close it is to the book. It is DEFINITELY the best Part 1 film I have seen as far as action. I am seeing a lot of reviews mentioning the lack of action, and maybe this is because I am a super fan, but I think I watched a completely different movie. This has the most action in a part 1 I have seen, and they did a great job with the pacing all the while explaining story. As for the ending and feeling "unfinished", Francis made an effort to make it feel as complete as possible. I mean, is it any different than the ending to a movie that is going to have a sequel? So, bottom line -- this is a film for THE FANS. A true book adaptation.

Stay tuned for my score analysis. More than any THG film, there are moments in the score that reference the story HEAVILY. Specifically that last doozy of scene.

     As a reader of the books, you think you know what you’re getting into with Mockingjay, but even from the first scene, you don’t fully realize the gravity of the situation that Katniss is in until you see it for yourself. The beginning of the movie hit like a punch in the stomach, and it set the mood for the rest of the movie.
     Being a long time fan of the books will reward you with lines of dialogue word for word from Suzanne Collins. But fans of the books won’t be bored. While the payoff of seeing scenes jump from our imagination to the movie screen is amazing, there are plenty of additions that take the story from Katniss’s head to the world outside of District 13.
     I was so impressed with how the story translated to film. Part 1 movies struggle to maintain a distinct and complete story, but this one seems to have achieved it.

     Mockingjay Part 1 was everything I thought it would be - everything I’d imagined - but infinitely better. It was suitably dark (unapologetically so for a movie based on a young adult novel. It didn’t compromise the storytelling in an effort to be more kid-friendly or to appeal more to the younger audiences) and very accurately captured the feeling of bleakness and the intensity of war (or the beginnings of it). So much so, that it pulls you in and clenches around your heart, and doesn’t let go. The storylines were translated incredibly well from the book to the movie and so much of the dialogue was straight out of the book, which says a lot about both Suzanne Collins’ writing and Francis Lawrence’s storytelling. None of this would be possible without the incredible talent everyone in the cast. I was never nervous about the new cast additions for this movie, but I was still pleasantly surprised by every new character we were introduced to. Jennifer Lawrence has said in the past that the audience would be pissed about the ending. Having seen the movie, I understand why people would maybe react that way, but I am not at all pissed. I loved the ending and I loved the movie and I’m excited for everyone else to see it so that we can all talk about it!

     I was completely enthralled with the movie from beginning to end. The editing and writing that the film did was phenomenal. They cut out scenes in the book that didn't directly tie into Katniss' emotional state and added scenes to enhance the story. The uprise of the rebels was the most moving and uplifting thing I have seen in cinemas in years. All the most important lines that you act out yourself when you read the books made it in and my mouthing "if we burn you burn with us" to myself at ten at night while reading the book like a crazy person holds nothing to watching Katniss' inspiring first propo.
      I was particularly pleasantly surprised by Julianne Moore as Coin. Though biased as you are being on Katniss' side, Coin does draw you in and inspires you as the head of District 13. I was much more sympathetic to her performance in the movie than I had been when reading the books.
      The hands down most heart wrenching moments were watching Peeta's condition deteriorate. Josh shines in this movie more than any other. From the first two films we are moved by his acting as he is very lovable, but watching him go from healthy and whole through to the end of the film is extremely hard to watch. Every scene of his was brilliantly acted as it is probably one of the most important roles in the film.
      Elizabeth Banks as Effie was just wonderful. I loved her addition to the story. Her reactions to the way of life in District 13 are a nice bit of comic relief to the overall somberness of the film.
Haymitch's entrance to the movie is WONDERFUL. Every bit of him was just amazing and a scene between him and Katniss had me crying in both laughter and sympathy towards his plight. 
Philip Seymour Hoffman was such a gem to have in the movies. His brand of lightheartedness sprinkled with his genius in making this revolution take place is irreplaceable.
      Sam Claflin was so wonderful in this film. Watching him was heartbreaking as you see him try not to fall apart. I was so happy to see so much more of the real Finnick and not the Finnick in the arena. I love the friendship between him and Katniss because they are the only ones in that situation that really understand each other.
      The addition of the characters of Boggs, Castor, Pollux and Cressida were incredible. Boggs is an inspiring leader. Castor and Pollux are so great together and Pollux especially shined to me. Natalie Dormer is so great as the focused director Cressida. Prim is all grown up and now acts as the older sister to Katniss. The love between the two sisters is shown more than ever in this film. 
      Jennifer Lawrence completely commands this film from the first scene to the last. From seeing her try to hold it together to accepting her position as the Mockingjay to realizing Snow's plan, I was so grateful to have such a talented actress play out these scenes I had imagined and dreamed about so perfectly.
      My favorite moments in the movie were the time in District 8 and The Hanging Tree. You will be singing The Hanging Tree to yourself for days. The scene along with her singing is probably the most inspiring moment of the film. Also Katniss trying to film the first propo as the best comedic scene in the series.
      My expectations were SO ridiculously high for this film and somehow they still exceeded them. If you leave this movie and you are not happy, I will want to do experiments on your brain because I will not understand at all. Francis Lawrence blew my mind with Catching Fire so I couldn't stop myself from thinking that this one would be even more amazing seeing as it is my favorite book. 
ALSO stay until after the credits as there is ANOTHER logo change!

White Carpet Experience Mockingjay Part 1 L.A. Premiere

Hi Tributes! Welcome to the Los Angeles Premiere of MOCKINGJAY - Part I.

So as Courtney, Tiffany and Janine were getting beautified I was stuck at work until noon, scared that I would not make it down to the premiere this year. Thankfully, as I'm sure you know, the Hunger Games fandom is made up of the best people ever. As I joined some of my fandom friends in line one mentioned she had an extra ticket from Samsung! (Thanks Krista!)

Ushered into the fan bleachers

We are seated right at the entrance of the white carpet, guaranteeing first sight of the Mockingjay cast!

The entrance to the "White Carpet"

The white not actually carpet

While waiting for the celebrities to start making their appearance we are joined by some Peacekeepers.

This time I get to shoot a Peacekeeper...with my camera

The first sighting of the night belongs to one of the newest (and also one of my favorite!) cast members, Elden Henson who plays the Avox, Pollux, in the film.

Elden Henson shaking hands with producer Jon Kilik

Then after hearing some screaming, I see a vision in a red Emanuel Ungaro dress with bright red hair, Miss Johanna Mason herself - Jena Malone!

I do love a lady in red

Dancing to the screams of the fans

Jena made her way through nearly every single fan at the barrier. She posed and signed for everyone and was even sweet enough to make her way through to the fansites who were in the fan pen...

Courtney: Just down the white carpet, Janine, Tiffany, and I were watching the stars walk by in one of the fan pens. Not many people were able to come over to our side, but rockstar Jena Malone wasn't going to let the gold fence bar her way from meeting with fans. Jena ended up climbing THROUGH the fence to come take pictures on our side. 

American Ninja Warrior Jena

We watched her as she took photos with everyone and even climbing over the fan bleacher barricade on the south side of the carpet.

Jena with Courtney

Tiffany and Jena

Jena is such a good sport and we were so grateful to her for taking her time to make every fans' day.

Jena the wonderful

After Jena, Willow Shields joined the carpet in a beautiful green Christian Siriano gown. 

Willow Shields, looking as grown up as Prim acts

We were then joined by another new cast member, Evan Ross, playing Messalla.

Evan with wife Ashlee Simpson, his mother Diana Ross, and sister Tracee Ellis Ross

Then the brother to Pollux, Castor! Actor Wes Chatham was hilarious and so sweet! He was beaming constantly and was joined by his beautiful pregnant wife, Jenn Brown. I had to take a selfie with this awesome guy.

Wes and I - totally bros

Wes talking to fans

Then Courtney's father's doppelganger, Jeffrey Wright (aka genius Beetee) was his usual charming self.

Posing and signing autographs

Hanging out with Court's onscreen father

After Jeffrey's appearance, there was the sound that only a young male actor could cause - the screech of screaming young girls. It was none other than District 4 Tribute, the charming actor Sam Claflin. I met him last year at the Catching Fire fan camp and he is just the nicest human being ever, not to mention gorgeous!

I do find him disracting

Not even lying, this is my new Facebook profile pic.

Sam stepped away when he saw his onscreen love, the beautiful and sweet Stef Dawson and swept her into a big hug. Sadly they were mobbed by professional cameramen so I did not get this wonderful moment on film.

Stef laughing with fans

I would volunteer for Annie Cresta

Then the woman who made this entire story possible, the incredible Suzanne Collins!

Suzanne walking the white carpet

Getting ready for a selfie

I cried right after this photo was taken

I had to take pictures with producers Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik for bringing this film to fruition. Sadly my photo with Nina was completely drowned out by bright lights.

Such an awesomely sweet guy

Then the man that I have legitimately Wayne's World "We're Not Worthy"-ed (seriously Lionsgate filmed Court and I doing this), the man who made the film as amazingly incomparable as they are, director Francis Lawrence! 

Francis with family

I am not worthy

Meta Golding then came into view in a beautiful red gown, sans pointy Enobaria teeth.

How do you even?

I was stunned by how beautiful this woman was in person.

Then the boy with the bread, thankfully no longer captured by the Capitol, Josh Hutcherson!

Poor guy gets all the short jokes, but he's taller than me!

Liam Hemsworth then made his way onto the white carpet! So excited to see Gale get more story in Mockingjay.

Liam waving to fans high up in the bleachers.

Signing autographs for fans

The Mockingjay herself! Miss Jennifer Lawrence sparkles in a Christian Dior gown.

Signing autographs

Screaming back at yelling fans

Being perfect as usual

Then a fantastic duo of ladies, Julianne Moore playing District 13 President Alma Coin and Elizabeth Banks as our favorite Capitol citizen, Effie Trinket, graced us with their amazing presence. 

Julianne and Elizabeth signing for fans

I prefer red to grey

I can't get over meeting this awesome lady

Look at that awesome 'do of hers!

Elizabeth and Jeffrey hug it out

The real enemy was the next to arrive - President Snow himself, Donald Sutherland!

ROYALTY -- I will take it to my grave

FYI he does not smell like blood and roses

Then the woman I, in particular, was waiting for, the Queen herself, Miss Natalie Dormer! Now I know she's camerawoman Cressida in the films, but as I am a huge Game of Thrones nerd I had to let her know how much of a fan I am of her portrayal as Margaery Tyrell. She is so amazing and incredible that I might have taken about a million pictures of her.

How are there so many perfect human beings in this cast?

How??? What?? What am I even doing breathing the same air as Natalie? How dare I.

I didn't even recognize Patina Miller from real life to screen because of the crazy transformation she makes in the film. She is so glamourous in person while her on screen character Commander Paylor is too busy being a badass.

Someday I wish to be as badass as Patina

We also got some non Hunger Games related celebrities on the White Carpet!

Avengers director and Buffy creator Joss MFing Whedon. Joss is Boss, y'all

I was so taken aback by seeing him that I yelled "Mark Hoppus!" in his face. I'm pretty sure he knows he's Mark Hoppus.

Now as awesome as the HG cast is, DONALD FAISON WAS THERE!!! Pretty sure I can recite Clueless from memory.

Now go watch Mockingjay - Part I on opening night or this man will find you and everyone you love.