Mini Movie Reviews: Maleficent and Mockingjay Part 1


MaleficentI didn’t have a lot of interest in Maleficent, initially. It looked like one of those movies that could be good, but could also be pretty bad. After hearing a couple of co-workers praise it, I decided to check it, and to my relief it was pretty good. It has nice visuals, the acting is good (Angelina Jolie of course steal the shows in the title role, but Elle Fanning was also good), and the plot and writing aren’t lacking the way Snow White and The Huntsman was (though there is a pretty major plot hole that my husband and I basically facepalmed over). I think my favorite part was watching the various transformations of Maleficent. Also, you think there’s going to be insta-love in the movie, and then it actually ends up sort of poking fun at it and proving to be just insta-attraction, which is totally viable. The movie is definitely worth at least one watch.

3stars2Mockingjay Part 1


I have to say that I have been really surprised to see a lot of mixed feelings about Mockingjay Part One among book bloggers. Before I dig into my thoughts on how the movie turned out, let me lay out my expectations…

– Mockingjay is my least favorite book of the trilogy because I think the pacing is weird and it’s just a lot of bad stuff happening. Plus Peeta is missing for a good chunk of it and if you read my blog regularly you know he’s my favorite.

– I have immense respect for how Francis Lawrence picked up where Gary Ross left off and was able to maintain the look and feel of the first movie while improving it as well as staying more true to the book than the predecessor. I thought Catching Fire the movie was so good that I might even like it more than the book, though it’s hard to say for sure without rereading it.

So in conclusion, while part of me wondered how Mockingjay could possible be made into two decent movies, I actually had a lot of faith in Francis Lawrence.

And personally, I think he nailed it.

I’m not going to get into a deep analysis of the movie, but what I will say is that the parts of the movie that were added and not from the book, everything with Effie, the portrayal of Katniss dealing with PTSD, all the propo stuff, and then that RESCUE OPERATION SCENE, were pretty close to perfect to me. Seriously. Given the source material, I don’t know if Francis Lawrence could have done much better. It is a slow-paced movie, and it’s not filled with the same sort of action, excitement, and romance as the first two, BUT IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE. The third book is very different from the first two. It’s all about Katniss’s struggle and I think I felt closer to it in the movie than I did in the book. The only complaint I have is the omission of this conversation-

Haymitch takes the seat across from me. “We’re going to have to work together again. So, go ahead. Just say it.”

… All I can say is “I can’t believe you didn’t rescue Peeta.”

“I know,” he replies.

There’s a sense of incompleteness. And not because he hasn’t apologized. But because we were a team. We had a deal to keep Peeta safe. A drunken, unrealistic deal made in the dark of night, but a deal just the same. And in my heart of hearts, I know we both failed.

“Now you say it,” I tell him.

“I can’t believe you let him out of your sight that night,” says Haymitch.

I nod. That’s it.

It’s not necessarily an enjoyable watch, per se, because it is two hours of Katniss with PTSD, but there are some lighter moments and overall, I found it extremely worthwhile and a very worthy adaptation.

4-5stars-editWhat are your thoughts on these movies?

13 Responses to Mini Movie Reviews: Maleficent and Mockingjay Part 1

  1. I very much liked Mockingjay also. And I can say I liked it better than the book. I was admittedly very skeptical also about how they were going to turn it into two movies well, but I think they actually did. This one was engaging and thoughtful and I connected to the characters and their emotional journey so much better than I did in the book. For the first time – I get the Gale/Peeta thing and it makes sense – their relationships and the way they evolve. I think Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely fantastic and she is definitely a large part of why this film is interesting.

    I didn’t remember it before you posted it, but I would have liked to have seen that conversation too. I can see Jennifer Lawrence and Woody Harrelson playing that out and it being this great moment in their relationship. I think the scene in the pipe/tube/tunnel kind of tried to chart a similar emotional course but that would have been a great kind of interplay between them.

    • I agree on all points you made! I told mu husband the same thing about actually feeling more connected to the characters in this movie than I did in the book, especially Katniss, which seems strange when we’re in her head in the book.

  2. RIGHT ON about Mockingjay part 1, Amy! I totally agree with you about how well it was done. In fact, I’m pretty sure I liked the movie better than the book, so far! I do think they should have included that scene between Haymitch and Katniss, as you said. Dang.

    Also, you seemed to have only good things to say about Maleficent, so why only 3 stars?

    • I definitely liked the first movie better than the book! Hoping the same will be true with the second.

      I waffled back and forth between 3 and 3.5 stars , but the main reason why it isn’t 4 or more is that I don’t have a desire to watch it again. I mean, I have no problem with watching it again, but I’m not going to buy it and it’s not a new favorite. It’s basically a short, light fantasy film, and if I am going to watch something in that genre I would probably prefer along the lines of LOTR. Or if I’m going to watch a new take on a fairy tale I just prefer something like Tangled. Hope that makes sense!

      • That makes a lot of sense, about not wanting to go out of your way to watch it again. I guess, going by that, I’d probably rate it the same. 🙂

  3. Yeah, I think Maleficent was a lot more hyped up than it actually turned out to be. Not that I didn’t enjoy the film, but it’s the kind of “fluffy” film you’d expect from a Disney movie, with just the right amount of cheese, if I’m making sense. I watched it a while back, so what was this plot hole you spotted? 😮 I’m inclined to say that the visuals were the best part of the film, but I guess Angelina Jolie did make a good Maleficent, in the end!

    Mockingjay: Part 1… HMM. I honestly don’t know what to think of that show. I definitely enjoyed Catching Fire a lot more, because it touched my heart in a very emotional way, while Mockingjay kind of lacked substance, in my opinion. I also found it kind of unbelievable how Katniss was suddenly able to transform into this promo-ready person after witnessing something horrible. In the book it was a lot gradually done, which I felt the film handled poorly. I liked the ending, though — Josh Hutcherson’s acting was BRILLIANT.

    • Well, maybe not a plot hole so much as just Phillip’s logic was seriously lacking. He was like, “Oh, let me have someone else take care of my daughter for 16 years and not see her and nothing will go wrong that way.” Uh, what kind of sense does that make? He could have kept her in the castle and then on the eve of her birthday just lock her in a empty room (of course that last part was what ended up happening and then it didn’t work, but you get the idea).

      I didn’t see Katniss as suddenly transforming in the film. They asked her to do a favor, and she wasn’t wild about it, but she wanted to save Peeta. She didn’t act for the cameras though, she reacted naturally to crappy situations and the vulnerability of her PTSD was evident in everything she did. At least that was how I saw it, and that was why it worked for me.

  4. YAY I’m glad you liked Mockingjay! I thought it was really well done, but I’m not sure if it was necessary to split it into two movies. I mean, they did a really good job with it though. But the first part of Mockingjay didn’t have that much to it, and like you said, slow pacing.

    I also enjoyed Maleficent, but it wasn’t super amazing. It was just good, predictable, a nice retelling.

    Nice reviews Amy!

    • I wish they could have split the first two movies as well, but then again we would have been getting 6 movies and that would have been a little much I guess. No, it wasn’t necessary, but I think it’ll work out OK.

  5. Maleficent was pretty meh for me, because the visuals were nice and I loved the twist on the romance, but I hate how anticlimactic it was for me. I wanted more shebang.

    And I want to watch Mockingjay! It’s probably going to tear my feels apart. I personally think the movies just keep getting better and better, and I think that it’s so good that the movie deals with PTSD. I just don’t know if I’m emotionally ready for it.

    • I’m more concerned about how my emotions are going to handle Part Two when crap really starts going down. Though watching Peeta deteriorate in this part is pretty rough.

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