My review of the third Hunger Games movie, from The Washington Times:
Jennifer Lawrence is as much the hero of "The Hunger Games" as is her on-screen alter ego Katniss Everdeen, the sullen, brave, self-obsessed, self-sacrificing protagonist at the center of the movies.
On paper, the character doesn't make much sense, but Ms. Lawrence does a masterful job of turning the script's creations into an unruly and fascinating character.
It's easy to accept those contradictions, even when they don't seem to add up, because Ms. Lawrence seems to be struggling with them as well, slowly coming to terms with the mess of who she is. It's that struggle that makes her so watchable, and that carries the movies.
That's good, because there's a lot that doesn't add up in the latest entry, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1," which adapts the first half of the third and final book in the enormously popular Hunger Games series of young adult novels.
The story picks up shortly after the second film left off: Katniss, after sabotaging the murderous games at the heart of her society's dystopian social order, has been whisked away by the resistance to a secret buried city: District 13, a low-lit, utilitarian bunker that looks like a cross between an airport, a dorm and a cafeteria.
Once there, she becomes the Mockingjay — a symbol of the rebellion, cast in propaganda films designed to spur on the resistance of the other districts, which are, for all practical purposes, slaves to the rich, elitist denizens of the Capitol.
Newcomers will likely be lost, but even casual viewers may find themselves with nagging questions about the series' lore. The political and economic structures employed by the Capitol, led by the malevolent President Snow (a delightfully icy Donald Sutherland) to control the outer districts, never really make sense.
Read the complete review, which focuses heavily on the problematic social mechanics that undergird the story. As I say in the review, it's in many ways the most interesting of the films so far, but it's also the weakest.