To their credit, the filmmakers match the tone of Collins’ book more or less all the way through (save for a subtle – yet important – change during the closing seconds), attempting to craft a war-torn parable that has more in common with Platoon or Apocalypse Now than it does to Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I is still skillfully made and Jennifer Lawrence is as good as ever as the young woman who must transform herself into a hero whether she wants to or not. Unlike the first two, though, this one feels far more engineered by a corporate committee than either of its predecessors did, diluting the emotional impact of all that’s transpiring for Katniss and her followers in the process.
Thing is, Lawrence doesn’t allow herself to go over the top into cartoonish histrionics, holding her own in every scene no matter what’s going on or who it is she’s sharing the frame with. The last image is all about her, the film closing on a fantastic transformative sight that showcases all who Katniss has been with all she is about to be become.
I was blown away by The Hunger Games.