I finally got to see The Hunger Games Movie last night! Overall I thought it was a great film and I did enjoy it ... I think I would have liked it more if I hadn't read the book first (and so recently) but I also think that if I had watched the movie first, it would have ruined the amazing flow and suspense of the book.
I was a little disappointed, but obviously not surprised, about the Hollywood/mainstream feel of the script and characterizations. There's always those awkward first ten to fifteen minutes in these kinds of movies, particularly fantasy and sci-fi, when all the background and history gets delivered as subtly as a dying whale in an elevator. Every comment and conversation is loaded with exposition rather than just letting it be. It's as if the movie makers have no faith that the viewer's will either pick it up themselves or be patient enough to wait for the details to filter in - and you can't blame them because unfortunately they are right in these assumptions.
That aside, I thought it was very well put together and - the question everyone asks - stayed remarkably true to the book. There were a few elements that changed but I could clearly justify these as essential during the book to movie transition. For example, the origin of the mockingjay pin was changed to avoid having to introduce the character of Madge, who doesn't really do much else. Prim and her relationship with Katniss was quite different, the movie portraying Prim as much more frightened of the Reaping and distraught over Katniss' departure. I thought this was great for building a bit more sympathy and connection between the two sisters, and it also justified Katniss' volunteering as tribute a lot better.
The world, characters and the visuals in general were almost identical to what I had envisioned myself, especially the Capitol and its colourful residents - so I was extremely happy with this element of the film. My friend commented on how disgusting and sickening the whole thing was, especially the people from the Capitol ... and I think this reaction means they hit the nail right on the head. One thing I was a little undecided on though was Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss ... I mean she was great, but I had a feeling something wasn't quite right.
There were a few frustrating moments where the movie went all Blair Witch Project and decided to pretty much strap the camera to a fish, because it moved so fast and erratically I couldn't even see what was on the screen. And it's not like it was a running through the forest sequence, it was a 'Katniss takes a stroll through the market'.
I thought it could have been much braver with the killings and gore of the arena, but then again, I guess they needed to keep the rating down for the kiddies.
The only real disappointment for me was the climax at the end of the Games. It lacked the desperation and hopelessness of the book - it all seemed a little too easy for Katniss and Peeta ... I mean, at the end they just kind of hopped off the cornucopia as if they hadn't just been mauled and forced to kill of several other teenagers.
And on a final note can I just say ... Alexander Ludwig, my how you have grown up since The Seeker and you are looking fine!