As I keep saying, I’ve been kept busy by other projects. I keep wanting to come back here and give you all more posts. Worldbuilding advice, for one. I have a post on YA fiction that I keep meaning to actually write. I should probably give you all some thoughts on current shows (mainly Person of InterestAgentsThe Flash, and Arrow), but each time I find myself about to do that I realize “Wait, there was another episode . . . I should watch that first.”

Still, I have one short review I can give you. A friend of mine was in town this weekend, and she asked me if I was willing to see Mockingjay. I was, we did, and here I am.

First, I should say that I’m not a Hunger Games fan. I dislike the unrealistic worldbuilding, and the fact that it’s written in present-tense. (I can’t stand present-tense. My editor instincts keep screaming that the grammar is wrong. I’ve tried. I have to turn down all manuscripts in present-tense.) Even beyond that, the excerpts I’ve managed to read have been very lackluster when it comes to prose style, often using twice as many words as would actually be needed.

As you might imagine, though, my standards are going to be a bit exacting when it comes to fiction. They would have to be, wouldn’t they? One of these days I’ll get around to trying the audiobook version and see if that works. I’ve found myself listening to a lot of audiobooks lately, because except for a few authors, I feel like I’m working if I’m reading.

This is not a post to bash Hunger Games, however. Quite the contrary: I enjoyed the movie.

Mockingjay, Part 1 is a YA war movie. That means that our perspective is that of the younger characters, caught up in the often-cynical (at least by comparison) events controlled by adults. The adults will consider the world to be complex, and the younger characters consider it a much simpler affair. That dynamic is one of the things that makes YA fiction interesting, and placing it in the context of a war is one way to bring it out.

It is, however, a difficult mix of genres; yet Mockingjay does it remarkably well. If I had to rate it on a five-star scale, I’d give it three out of five. Its flaws are the two-dimensional world of Panem, some instances of technology that works according to the dictates of the plot rather than realism, and the 4.5-magnitude shakeycam that actually gave me a headache on two occasions. Glaring as those were to me, I was still able to sit back and enjoy a very good movie.

A lot of it is sold by the actors. Some are lackluster (I wanted to give President Coin extra coffee so she could wake up; the only time she seemed alive was during the attack), while others really sold it (Sam Claflin was excellent as Finnick Odair, and Natalie Dormer as Cressida made the propaganda-filming scenes feel realistic).

Jennifer Lawrence definitely grew into her part as Katniss since the first movie; I’ve seen her in other things, and in Hunger Games she seemed almost lifeless. Here, though, Katniss feels as realistic as I would expect of a PTSD-suffering teen swept up in a conflict that goes far beyond her, and the final shots of Mockingjay are an excellent callback to the first scene, bringing her inner turmoil to the surface.

The most memorable scene, though, is one that fans no doubt expect. In fact, if you know exactly what the title of this post refers to, then you also know why I say that. For those that don’t know it yet, I’ll simply say this. Katniss has become the personification of the resistance, and a viral video of her singing a song has a strong effect on those who take up the fight. It is haunting and moving, and I’ve had the song in my head since Friday. And I don’t have a problem with that.

Is it a must-see movie? No. Will Hunger Games fans enjoy it? Of course. What about the rest of you?

Well, you might notice I haven’t made a single reference to Catching Fire yet, the second installment in the series. That’s because I haven’t seen it. I was able to understand the movie without it. In fact, I dare say I could understand it without having first seen Hunger Games years ago. As movie adaptations go, this is an excellent example; I might not be able to compare it to the source material, but I can say it doesn’t feel like anything important was left out.

So if you want to try it out and you’re not sure, you can watch this and still understand it. If you like war movies but don’t need grit, or blood and gore, and want something that’s family-friendly (save for violence, and far less violence than that first movie), this is a good choice.