The spectre of war casts a long shadow over the penultimate chapter of the blockbusting dystopian thrillers based on Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 follows the lead of the Harry Potter and Twilight sagas by cleaving the final book in two.
This decision – driven as much by greed as artistic necessity – results in a dark, brooding two hours of self-sacrifice almost completely devoid of the propulsive action sequences that distinguished the earlier films.
Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of reluctant heroine Katniss Everdeen remains a mesmerising constant.
Separated from fellow tributes Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Johanna (Jena Malone), who are being held in the Capitol, Katniss gathers her strength in a secret underground complex.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is the calm before the storm of full-blown conflict.
It’s a slower burn than previous films and lacks some of the on-screen electricity since Katniss and Peeta are separated, but Lawrence burns bright as the eponymous “girl on fire”.