Where is it going to split? That’s the question everyone has asked of series conclusions since Harry Potter lead the way with breaking up The Deathly Hallows. Much like its enchanting predecessor, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 does not disappoint in the first half of its thrilling conclusion, or the heart-wrenching moment where it decides to leave audiences waiting for more.

Mockingjay picks up at District 13, with a post-hunger games Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) suffering some serious PTSD. She’s furious that she was saved instead of Peeta, and plagued by nightmares following the action.

Julianne Moore’s President Alma Coin, who’s joined by a strategizing Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), wants Katniss to record a message for the districts and resume her role as the Mockingjay.

At first she resists, the same old stubborn Katniss, but once she realizes she has the power to make demands, she consents – with a list of conditions. Then we’re treated to the beleaguered archer attempting a gallant call to arms in front of a green screen – or their world’s equivalent – equipped with wind fans and all.

The disingenuous nature of the video mixed with Katniss’s subpar acting ability make for a comic relief, one of the many the film offers. The Mockingjay’s star power shines when she witnesses the Capitol’s true cruelty in action, prompting a memorable moment that sparks not only the plot but also very real chills down a viewer’s arms.

The first film in the conclusion of the popular YA series seems to focus on sacrifice – what are you willing to give up for the greater good? To Coin, no sacrifice is too great if it will unify the districts and take down the Capitol. Katniss, however, is still figuring out her limits.

She’s tortured between wanting to fight for the greater good and processing the knowledge that her actions risk lives. Luckily she isn’t alone, and along with Coin and Heavensbee, she has her trusty team of Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), Boggs (Mahershala Ali), Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), and of course, Gale (Liam Hemsworth).

Newcomers Natalie Dormer (Cressida), Evan Ross (Messalla), Elden Henson (Pollux), and Wes Chatham (Castor) join the cast as Katniss’s video crew, documenting the Capitol’s many atrocities and the young soldier’s steadfast determination to fight back.

Banks’ downtrodden Effie, stripped of her Capitol trappings is a true joy, adding humor and a mother’s touch to the militaristic team. However, she isn’t the only one who has changed. Haymitch, due to the strict rules of the underground district, has become sober. And Gale, once Katniss’s most trusted confidant, has also proven useful to someone else, a fact that doesn’t go unnoticed by the rebellion’s hesitant leader.

Josh Hutcherson’s emaciated Peeta makes for a jarring sight – a harrowing look at the “any means necessary” approach President Snow (Donald Sutherland) will take to exact revenge on his least favorite victor.

The film trails Panem’s slow but sure descent into war, revealing the plan that left everyone scratching their heads at the end of Catching Fire. The emotional, action-filled two hours fly by, leading to what is sure to be a dark and memorable conclusion.

The resistance is growing, and as Katniss says, “Fire is catching.” The plot gathers momentum as it rolls ahead, preparing for the grand showdown in the adaptation’s finale. After viewing the first half of The Hunger Games’ epic conclusion, we couldn’t say it better than the late Cinna, “We’re still betting on you, Katniss.”