The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Director: Francis Lawrence (2014)

She’s scared and angry but Jennifer Lawrence fights on as reluctant warrior Katniss in this third, darker episode of the spectacular sci-fi series.

Mockingjay resumes the story with rebels led by President Coin (Julianne Moore) regrouped in a huge hidden bunker in the desolate District 13.

The Hunger Games arena, where children fought to the death, has been destroyed and a popular uprising was crushed by soldiers from the Capitol.

Coin, whose silver hair and two-faced nature mirror despotic leader President Snow (Donald Sutherland) wants Katniss to be the Mockingjay, a symbol of rebellion to inspire the repressed districts to rise against the Capitol.

Despite her fears, Katniss agrees. But only if her traitorous best friend Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is rescued and given a pardon.

As bombs and bodies start to fall, she and self-pitying soldier Gale (Liam Hemsworth) get closer and he volunteers to lead a daring mission.

Katniss is an expert archer and inspirational Games survivor yet, disappointingly, she barely fights because people are so protective. In the movie’s best sequence she is attacked when visiting a hospital.

There are speeches at the expense of action, the pace is thoughtful not thrilling and the story suffers as it is a bridge to the fourth and final film.

But the rebel base and splendid Capitol look excellent and Lawrence is so good that she makes ordinary actors like Hemsworth seem poor – and fabulous actors such as Sutherland and Moore look ordinary.

☆☆