Actually, to be honest, I was looking forward to it not just because I wanted to see it, but because I planned 3 programs, helped a little with a scavenger hunt, oversaw a bulletin board, designed and created a chalkboard display, created a book list all based around the The Hunger Games series, and I was re-reading it with my 10 year old and husband. So, I wanted the movie to come out so that I could quit thinking about The Hunger Games for a little while. I am Panem-ed out. I started to hate both Gale and Peeta, just a little bit.
Overall, I did enjoy the film. Seeing the world that Suzanne Collins created made real was really thrilling. That being said, I do have some comments.
Now, please be aware, there are spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own risk.
Katniss -- Jennifer Lawrence (or, as I like to call her, J.Law) is amazing. One of the things that I was worried about was that since the book spends so much time in her head, is that a lot of Katniss's character would be left behind. However Lawrence makes her interior monologue explicit.
Cinna -- Damn. Cinna is hot. Lenny Kravitz and J.Law have great chemistry. You don't see much of him, but what is there makes an impact.
Effie -- I am not a big fan of Elizabeth Banks, but she nailed Effie Trinket. The scene before the Reaping where she's walking down the street in District 11, looking like she wants to Wet-Wipe the whole thing... awesome.
President Snow -- I can't wait for the next movie, when we get to see more of Donald Sutherland as Pres. Snow, (a.k.a Evil Santa). You really get the idea that this is a man with two faces -- the wise, kind leader he shows the world, and the child pimping poisoner he actually is. .
Cesar Flickerman -- Like Seacrest, but you know, actually entertaining. Stanley Tucci is my new hero. The character is a great window into how the Capitol views the games.
Rue and Prim -- Great casting. I cried both when Katniss was saying goodbye to Prim and when she covers Rue with flowers. (BTW: My daughter called me a wuss.)
Set design and costumes-- District 11 looked perfect, as did the Capitol and the residents. The "Girl on Fire" outfits (which I could never really visualize) worked beautifully.
The Romance -- The film really played down the romantic aspects of the book, which I appreciated. For me, it's Katniss' story, and the love triangle was not the point.
The Tributes -- Marvel had freaky Manson lamps. Clove was scary. Cato was big and scary. Thresh was bad ass. Another case of good casting.
Adding in the Gamekeepers -- In the books, Katniss has a good working knowledge of how the Games work, having watched them her whole life. Her monologue explained it to us. The movie doesn't have that luxury, so opening up the world a little, showing us the mechanics of the Games, was a smart choice.
Gale -- O.K., I make no value judgement about Hemsworth as an actor,cause you didn't see him much here. But since all Gale really needed to do was stand and look pained, him giving his best Blue Steel everytime the camera was on him... was not the best choice.
Peeta -- One of my teens says that Peeta is "a cross between an abused child and a puppy from an ASPCA ad". I would say I have to agree. Katniss is so much more together and soulful than he is. I am told that Josh Hutcherson is super cute ( I don't see it) but really, Katniss seemed less like a love interest and more like a babysitter.
Seneca Crane -- Look, I love Wes Bentley and his pretty, pretty, blue eyes as much as the next girl, but honestly, the beard designer was doing all the work.
The Games -- I get it, that if you wanted to make this teen book into a movie that teens can see, you couldn't do a shot-for-shot recreation of the books. However, the quick-cut technique that director Gary Ross uses has a tendency to dilute the impact of the Arena. You know that these kids are killing each other, but you don't see it, which, while necessary, does take away from the horror that the books instilled.
The Ending -- At the end of the book, Katniss is taken aback by the fact that she has become a symbol of rebellion. At the end of this movie, Katniss seems much more willing to face off with President Snow. Also, the movie ends with Gale (Blue Steeling away!) with Rue on his shoulders, and Katniss holding hands with Peeta. It makes me think that the romance will be the focus of the sequel.
As I said, I did enjoy the film. And, sitting in a theater full of kids wearing T-shirts and costumes based on a teen book was an amazing experience. I wouldn't let the less successful aspects of the adaptation scare you away.