Sandy Kenyon reviews 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1'

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- By splitting the final "Hunger Games" story into two parts, those in charge risked watering down the action. There is less going on in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1," despite the frenetic trailers, but for me, Jennifer Lawrence and a fine cast makes the movie worthwhile enough.

At the center of this movie stands the greatest young female star of our times telling a story of female empowerment that's all too rare in Hollywood blockbusters.

The deadly Hunger Games are over, and the district where Katniss Everdeen grew up has been destroyed by the totalitarian forces of the president, played with suitable menace by Donald Sutherland.

Katniss is recruited to inspire all those who would fight against him, making her the face of the rebellion.

The rebels are led by Julianne Moore's character, with guidance from Woody Harrelson and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Scenes showing Hoffman helping to recruit Katniss as the Mockingjay are a constant reminder of how much was lost when Hoffman died due to a drug overdose, because his big talent and the skill of the others lend extra weight to the story.

Some of it is none too believable, but the flaw here is not in the action, or lack of it, as some critics have complained, but in the casting of the two male leads: Liam Hemsworth, who is by Katniss' side, and Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta, held captive in the capitol.

Both guys get blown off the big screen by Lawrence's star power, but none of it matters to the tens of millions of moviegoers who will make "Mockingjay, Part 1" number one at the box office.

High school senior Jackie Xerri, who accompanied me to the screening of this one, prefers it to the previous "Hunger Games" film and recommends it for her friends and their parents, saying, "It's not just for teenagers."

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