New ‘Hunger Games’ lacking, Lawrence disappoints

I’m normally the first in a group of friends to say, “The book was better.” Reading what is “supposed” to happen before watching the movie can sometimes ruin the cinematic experience.

That’s why with the Hunger Games trilogy, I swore to myself I wouldn’t pick up the books before I watch the movie. Like the rest of country, the first film in the series enthralled me.

And with “Catching Fire,” I rewatched it four times because I loved it so much. It seemed as though not reading the book beforehand was doing me some good.

But “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” was a disappointment.

Before I delve into what was wrong with it, let’s talk about what was right with it.

It’s clear that this film is supposed to show the audience Katniss Everdeen accepting her role in the rebellion against the Capitol. But it wasn’t Katniss who I couldn’t keep my eyes off. It was Elizabeth Banks.

She played a stunning Effie Trinket and stole the show for me. Her character gives the best insight.

There’s a lesson to be learned from her character. When people with power eventually lose it, they must learn to cope with it in creative ways. For Effie, this means replacing her usual couture for rags and bedsheets found at her disposal.

The second best performance came from Josh Hutcherson.

There was a huge chance that Hutcherson could have overacted, but he restrained. His careful performance mirrored the care President Snow took in trying to squash the rebellion.

And, of course, the clothes were fabulous. Katniss’ war outfits were on the sharpest of points.

But this time Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss was anything but on point.

Before you light the fire and hoist up the pitchforks, hear me out. Lawrence is a pretty good actress. The reason we all love her, if we’re being honest, is not because of her acting abilities but her quirky reminders that celebrities are people too.

She falls on the red carpet, skips after-parties for buffet food and jokes around with her co-stars on set. But in “Mockingjay, Part 1,” she’s anything but stunning.

The only shining moments of her performance were after the bombing of a makeshift hospital in District 8. When she stared straight into the camera and yelled at President Snow, chills shot down my spine.

It feels like the director, Francis Lawrence, tried to play too heavily on Lawrence’s ability to chill the audience.

Another huge problem I have with the film is how little actually happened in the first installment. As I’ve said, I’m a book lover. I love when Hollywood sticks to the books.

It feels as though the filmmakers are saving the best for last.

Hey Hollywood – don’t do that. Splitting one book into two films is fine if there’s enough plot to do so. But splitting one book into two films when there’s not enough plot? That’s just a ploy to get more of the audience’s money.

Is “Mockingjay, Part 1” worth the price of a ticket? Kind of. Just keep your eyes on Banks and Hutcherson.