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hunger pangs

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (12A) HHH

JENNIFER LAWRENCE is as good as we've come to expect in this solid, well-made new chapter in the series. But the film ultimately suffers from being broken into two instalments.

The movie picks up following the events of Catching Fire so you'll need to have seen the other films to get with this dystopian universe.

We're back in Panem, the future-earth consisting of the wealthy and powerful Capitol led by President Snow (Sutherland). This regime oversees and oppresses the twelve other numbered districts which are in various states of poverty and chaos.

Every year, young people are chosen to take part in the Games - a death match shown on live TV - though events at the end of the second film have put paid to that practice.

Katniss has defied the Capitol to become a poster girl - The Mockinjay - for a revolutionary movement.

Led by President Alma Coin (Moore) and spearheaded by the residents of District 13, the plan is to bring on a wider revolution through the presence of Katniss and some media manipulation at the hands of Plutarch Heavensbee.

He's played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, reminding us what a loss he is to cinema every moment he's on the screen.

But their plans, already risky, are further complicated by the fact that her beloved Peeta is being held by the Capitol.

Mockingjay is every bit as solid, dramatic and well acted as the first two movies in the series but there is no denying that it suffers from being split in two.

Mockingjay is no longer than the other two books and the decision of the studio to cash in by squeezing two movies out of it may please fans but it affects the quality of the film.

The story - and in particular the action - takes too long to build, while the cliffhanger ending feels anti-climactic.

Lawrence persists in showing us why she's become the go-to young star for Hollywood casting agents and the quality in support shows. But the movie can never quite shake off the feeling it's a set-up for the finale rather than a movie in its own right.

Esther McCarthy

n THE VERDICT: A tense and solid addition to the series but you leave the movie as you started it - still waiting for the main act.

n THE STARS: Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Josh Hutcherton, Donald Sutherland.

n The Story: Katniss and the rest of the rebel movement power up to overthrow their corrupt government for once and for all.

Irish Independent