The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 - It is the things we love most that destroy us - 3.5 stars

Katniss, Peeta, Gale... A love triangle spun into a four part series. 
Walking into the cinema...
Part One: This is like walking into a fine restaurant and knowing that you will only get the appetiser. We are just supposed to be satisfied with part of the Mockingjay story. 

                     Overall rating: 3.5 stars 
Cinematic value: 3.5 stars    Family value: 2.5 stars*

     For those who have not been keeping up with the district drama of The Hunger Games narrative. Katniss and the rebellion destroyed the Hunger Games and the nation of Panem is set on a disastrous course towards civil war. The districts have begun to rebel against the Capital and all they need is a catalyst to begin an attack. The rescued tributes, Katniss (), Finnick and Beetee, along with Katniss' long time friend Gale ()have been taken to District 13. The district that was rumoured to be destroyed, but has flourished undetected and underground by the watchful eye of the Capital's peacekeepers. Katniss is asked to push past her personal horrors of the Hunger Games, the assumed loss of Peeta and take on the role of the people's symbol for the rebellion, the "Mockingjay". President Coin () and Plutarch Heavensbee () devise a plan that will weigh against the propaganda of the President Snow () and the Capital. Katniss must weigh out how she will be utilised for the role and the eventual knowledge of Peeta's () survival and his perceived betrayal within the capital. Peeta seems to have become the puppet of the capital and she must find a way to save him and still fight the power of Snow's army. After visiting the destruction of District 12 and seeing the devastation throughout the other districts, Katniss is motivated to become the central figure in the fight. She must wrestle with the responsibilities of being the face of the rebellion and determining what do with her potential love for Peeta and Gale. 
      The Hunger Games series has become another teen dystopian drama phenomenon. The book series and the movie series have set new records and developed stars of its characters. Regardless of opinions of the series, it's theme or the genre, this film is destined to be a hit and affably serves as the bridge to the conclusion of the story. The challenge for director,  (I Am Legend), is to make us willing to wait another year for the final instalment. Lawrence took over the film series for the second instalment, which is arguably the best of the series. With Mockingjay: Part 1 Lawrence does a masterful job of keeping the keeping the story on the front burner at a low boil and draws us slowly into the drama. The story moves seamlessly from the last film and manages to keep the audiences attention. The performances by Jennifer Lawrence, Hoffman and Sutherland felt comfortable and familiar, keeping the relational tension intact for the final instalment. It is difficult to watch Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final performance. An unfortunate loss to the industry, but a welcome addition to this film. Josh Hutcherson seems to make a significant, but cameo-like appearance in the film and opens the door to the final chapter.   Julianne Moore and Liam Hemsworth perform well, but seem like bit players in this portion of the tale. All the other characters are merely window dressing for the set up for the final battle. This leaves them one-dimensional and lacking depth, but serviceable as building blocks for the building storyline. Thankfully, Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) are allowed to flourish and add the needed humour to a relatively somber tale. There is action in this film, but it seems minimal in comparison to previous two chapters of The Hunger Games. This all adds to the needed tension to serve up Part 2. Interestingly, the direction does not play up the love triangle portion between the three lead characters, but the tension between the characters is evident and leaves unanswered questions for the the last instalment. The story weighs in on psychological tension of the battle between good and evil. 
       For the fans of the book series, the filmmakers have honoured the characters and storyline. For the fans of the movie series, this portion of the story successfully sets up the final chapter. As a film it is good, but merely gets the story to the boiling point . Mockingjay: Part 1 succeeds in moving the storyline along, but is not satisfying on its own. We will sit at the table waiting for the main course... next year. 

Leaving the cinema...
This film was a test of patience. It was not a bad film and did the work that it was supposed to do, set up the last film and make millions of dollars in the process. You will need to see this portion of the series to understand the conclusion. So, go, enjoy the film and then wait until next year for resolution.   

*This is a film for pre-teens and older due to mature themes and violence. 

Reel Dialogue: What are the bigger questions to consider from this film? 
1. How will the world come to an end?  (Matthew, 24:36, Revelation 20:1-15)
2. Should we rebel against bad leadership? (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17)
3. How can we overcome trauma? (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 34:4)

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews