The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 ★★★★
In the penultimate instalment of the Hunger Games series there is no Games. Instead we get a society quivering on the cusp of all-out civil war. The hidden dissidents of Panem’s District 13 are preparing to take on the might of the Capitol, with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) the reluctant face of their revolution, while Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta is still a pawn of Donald Sutherland’s dastardly ruler. This adaptation of the first part of the final novel takes us down a hole, to the underground headquarters of the rebellion led by Julianne Moore. Its predecessors worked better as individual films, with the games providing satisfying narratives within narratives; given this, and the absence of true closure, Part 1 feels like a bridging film. Nevertheless, Jennifer Lawrence delivers complexity and conviction, and director Francis Lawrence is a solid hand at the helm, with matters left excitingly poised for the Part 2 climax. This transitional effort’s teething problems aside, it’s crammed with well-drawn characters and intelligent ideas, meaning the franchise remains as robust and rule-breaking as its idiosyncratic protagonist.
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