I'm generally a critic of the trend of turning every popular book series into a movie because, as I've said a million times, what makes a good book doesn't necessarily make a good movie.

I'm generally a critic of the trend of turning every popular book series into a movie because, as I've said a million times, what makes a good book doesn't necessarily make a good movie.

While I understand the appeal of seeing a visualization of events and characters that you only imagined before, if a movie is only good if you've read the book, it's not a good movie.

But so far, I've had nothing but love for the "Hunger Games" movies. The first helped establish Jennifer Lawrence as probably the best young actress working today and gave a greater audience to Suzanne Collins' amazing Katniss Everdeen, a much-needed smart and strong-willed heroine for a generation that needed an antidote to Bella Swan of "Twilight."

The second chapter, "Catching Fire," was just a damn good piece of filmmaking. It perfectly escalated the tension as the totalitarian leadership of the Capitol sought to quell the stirrings of revolution that Katniss unwittingly set in motion.

The latest "Hunger Games" movie is part of another trend in book adaptations: a book split over two movies (or three in the case of Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" adaptation). Sometimes it makes sense for the storytelling - particularly if the book is excessively long for one film - but it definitely makes financial sense, because, hey, you gotta buy two tickets.

"Mockingjay, Part 1" picks up just after the events of the cliffhanger ending of "Catching Fire." If you haven't caught up, yeah, you need to do that before you watch this. I'll skip the plot synopsis ("Catching Fire" is streaming on Netflix now).

First the good news. "Mockingjay" adds to an already great cast with Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin of District 13. Coin is trying to fan the flames of a revolution against the Capitol, and she needs Katniss to be the symbolic Mockingjay that gives the movement a face.

Lawrence is again superb at the mix of strength and vulnerability that makes up Katniss as reluctant savior, and it's a bittersweet joy to see the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman on the big screen.

On the downside, the second-to-last movie pitfalls strike this chapter. It feels drawn-out at times - the book was roughly the same length as the previous two - and it sets up more than it delivers. The delivery comes with "Part 2" in 2015, but the series has earned enough good faith to make "Part 1" essential viewing.