Mockingjay part 1 is clearly a set up for the final movie in the series. I have not read the books and so don’t really have an idea of why the final book was turned into two movies. I tend to be somewhat on the bandwagon that it was mainly a financial decision, the studios hoping to cash in with four movies rather than three. I base that mostly on the fact that as I stated above this movie was clearly a set up. Much of what happened could have been easily condensed. That said, Mockingjay was not a bad movie. It was surreal watching Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final role. He was filming Mockingjay at the time of his death and although he had finished filming everything for this movie, he still had scenes to film for the final one. It will be interesting to see how they handle that, but it may be seamless, especially for those like me who didn’t read the source material. This is not the movie to watch to see Philip Seymour Hoffman as the superb actor he was. Not that he was bad, he was convincing in his role as Plutarch Heavensbee, it just didn’t give him a lot to do. Jennifer Lawrence is, in my opinion an amazing actor. She brought me to tears a couple of times during this movie. You just absolutely believe everything Katniss Everdeen is feeling, especially her reluctance to be seen as some kind of savior. She only wants to protect those she loves and keeps finding herself in situations she would have never looked for or wanted because of her strength and loyalty. Jennifer Lawrence is very young and I imagine we’ll see many more great things from her in the future. She is the reason that these movies have done so well. If Katniss had not been cast well I doubt the first movie would have done well enough to even warrant the second. She sings a song partway through the movie that just breaks your heart. Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy and Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket continue to be two of my favorite characters in the series. They are both fine actors who make what could be cartoonish characters into believable and real people. In my opinion, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark and Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne are two of the weakest links. They aren’t terrible, I just don’t ever really feel that much for either of them. To be fair, neither of them were given much to do this go round. Julianne Moore played Alma Coin, President of District 13. She was fine, playing a good leader, but we never really get a chance to get to know what kind of person she is outside her leadership role. And of course Donald Sutherland returns as the smug, evil President Snow. He’s really good at the coldhearted gamesmanship of his character. After three movies of his playing games with peoples lives, I’m ready to see his comeuppance and I hope it’s a good one. The cinematography for this film isn’t as interesting as it has been in the previous films, but that is more story driven and probably part of the reason it wasn’t as compelling. There is very little time spent in the capital. There is a bit of time spent in a bombed out District 12 and in a logging area of District 8, but most of the movie is underground in District 13 and concrete walls and stairwells just aren’t that visually compelling. The scene where Katniss sings her song however, is on a river and is one of my favorites in the movie. I’m looking forward to seeing the conclusion of the story for this group of characters, but I wish it had come without so much filler. I would have liked to have been more excited at the end of this movie, as I was at the end of the second movie. Hopefully the final movie will be worth the wait.