Alright. Let me start by saying that by itself, The Hunger Games was a decent movie. If the book hadn't been quite as fresh in my mind, I would have enjoyed it much more. I think all of the people that I went with enjoyed it, and that seems to be the general consensus online. Something about it just rubbed me the wrong way, though. It's decently true to the book, but they did that thing I hate where they change little details that have no reason or right to be changed. If you haven't seen it yet, or haven't even read the book and plan to, you might want to stop reading now. There will be plenty of spoilers. Also, I apologize for the length of this post. I just couldn't stop.
Now, I'm not going to talk about everything in the movie that bothered me. That would end in a 20-page post. I'll just mention some of the stuff that really rubbed me the wrong way. Let's start with the little things that threw me from the beginning. Most of these are minute details that are addressed in the book, and just completely left out or changed in the movie.
Food is a huge theme in the series. The HUNGER Games. Come on. The very first mention of food is in the first couple of pages in the book... the goat cheese that Prim leaves Katniss. That leads to the mini-feast that Katniss and Gale have in the woods - goat cheese, basil leaves, bread, berries. The idea being that even though times are so hard, life sucks, it's the Reaping... they can still manage for themselves. They can feed themselves and their families, pretty well, too. In the film, they wait until a good 10/15 minutes in to show any food, and it's just a roll... after Katniss misses a deer she shoots at (yeah, cuz that would happen). There are lots of other instances throughout the movie that food should play a big part in, and it's glossed over. They practically threw away one of the main themes in the story.
One other little thing that I just have to mention is Buttercup. I know, it's not important at all to the story (or to anyone but me, probably), but Buttercup (Prim's cat) is named as such because he's the color of a buttercup. Yellow. The cat in the movie was black and white. How difficult would it have been to find a yellow cat for that 2-second shot? Ok, sorry, had to get that off my chest.
The mockingjay pin. No Madge. She found it at some junk stand. Need I say more?
A huge thing that they completely cut out was Katniss thirsting nearly to death in the beginning of the Games. There's a solid chapter, maybe two devoted to her not being able to find water. In the movie, she finds it right away and had no problems. Honestly, I think she has it way too easy in the arena, in the movie. Same goes for Peeta. They never talk about the cut on his leg getting infected, Katniss doesn't even try to bandage it or anything. He just had a little gash on his thigh, he takes a nap, Katniss gets some medicine, and he's all better. I know it was PG-13, but if they can show bloody, horrible deaths, they can make the main characters suffer properly.
Another huge thing that they almost left out completely is Katniss's prep team - Octavia, Venia, and Flavius. I don't know that they even show all three, but they only show any of them for a couple of seconds. They're some of my favorite characters in the books, they're around through all three in the series, and I think play a pretty big role. One of my favorite moments in the second book is when Octavia and Flavius have to quit before the Quarter Quell, and one of my favorite moments in the third book is with Octavia. Well, to build up to that, they would have to actually introduce them and let us get to know them. I'm sure they're going to be glossed over for the entire trilogy, and that's pretty unforgivable to me.
Ok, enough with picking apart the details. Let's talk about Katniss. She's so smart, she's feisty, she can play people and act a part when she has to... in the book. The Katniss portrayed in the movie seems half-retarded most of the time. She only has a personality when something terrible happens. Now, in the books she has tons of internal monologue. I get that that's difficult to portray in a movie without having cheesy voice-overs or something. But then have her talk to herself once in awhile, or act out what she's thinking/feeling. Any time she's in public, she pulls it together and smiles and wins people over... in the book. In the movie she just sits with her mouth agape, unable to speak intelligently, looking like a special child. I don't know if it was an acting problem or a directing problem, but I like the movie Katniss a lot less than the book version of the character.
I'll admit, I do want to see it again, to try and separate the movie from the book in my head. This time around, I had been reading the book just hours before I saw the movie, and every little thing that was changed or left out offended me on a personal level. If I give it some time and distance, I might be able to tolerate, if not like the movie. On that note, let's talk about some things that were done right.
Effie Trinket. The movie version could not have fit the book version better if they'd tried. She was perfect. Some of her little one-liners and comments that weren't in the books may have even made her better. Good job on that one, movie people. Cinna. When I heard Lenny Kravitz was playing Cinna, I cried on the inside. Well, I was very pleasantly surprised. He embodied Cinna very well, and it turned out to be a fantastic casting decision. Rue. I think I like Rue better than even the main characters, in the book. The first time I read it, I sobbed for a solid 10 minutes when she died. The movie definitely did her justice, and that death scene was spot-on. Kudos.
I'm still not sure how I felt about Haymitch. When I saw Woody Harrelson cast in the part, I didn't know how to react. I like Woody Harrelson, but I just couldn't see him as Haymitch. He still doesn't fit the book version in my head, but I didn't hate him, either. He definitely did the character justice. He could have/should have been drunker, and I'm sad they didn't show him molesting Effie and falling off the stage at the Reaping, but that wasn't his fault.
Well, I've gone on long enough. To sum up, I didn't like the movie. That might change with more viewings, and if I'm able to think about the book and film as two separate entities. (The only franchise that I've been able to do that with is Harry Potter. If I didn't think of the movies completely independent of the books, I wouldn't love them like I do.) They did get some stuff right, and if I hadn't read the books at all, I probably would have loved it. Heck, I didn't even like the Golden Compass movie after reading it, and they were pretty much completely true to the book other than changing around the order of events a little. I'm super picky when it comes to book-to-movie films. I just don't understand why they change every little detail when it would take no extra time or effort to stay true to the book. On an A-F scale, I give it a C. I can't go lower than that because it didn't suck as a movie. I also can't go any higher than that because they left too much out, and made too many changes. I'm sure I'm going to make people mad because I didn't love it, but it's just my opinion. You're entitled to yours, and I'm entitled to mine. If you loved it, great! You didn't experience the crushing disappointment that I did. :-P