I'd heard a lot of good things from friends who had seen it before me (some had read it, some hadn't) and I have to say I was genuinely looking forward to watching it, without the usual feeling of something you love about to be slaughtered. There were a lot of good things about the film, and I feel in terms of adaptation, it was as well adapted as the Harry Potter films were from their originals: not perfect, but enjoyable none the less. I didn't walk away feeling anything had been sacrificed for special effects (something that usually gripes me!) or that the edits were unfounded. In fact, I would probably recommend the film to people.
However, I can't ignore the fact that I have read the book. And on this level, I guess I have been quite substantially disappointed.
I want to do a bit of a "good/bad/ugly" thing here, because there's a lot of good I do want to say about the film (suprisingly!) I just can't ignore a few things I feel the book is worth reading for - even if you have seen the film 4 times and think you know it inside out.
Jennifer Lawrence. I've no idea what the "community" out there is saying about her (though I've heard some saddening rumours) as I've pretty much avoided all media until being able to see it for myself and form my own opinions, but I thought she was an excellent Katniss. She had a quietness that was perfect, and I believed in her character.
Effie Trinkett. They kept her character spot. on.
District 12. The first 30 minutes of the film were great. Disrict 12 had the ghost-town eerieness it should have had. It was muddy, earthy, wooden and the people were rugged. The city hall was suitably concrete and imposing.
The Games as entertainment. I think this was the most reinforced point of the film, and one that aided in understanding the Capitol where other "traits" were forgotten (see next section).
The Capitol. Don't get me wrong, I think the film did a great job of getting across the stark contrast and ridiculousness of the Capitol when compared with 12. But there was no underlying threat to the place. No depravity to Snow and his oppression of other districts. Did that even came across at all?! (it's hard to tell, having info from the book already in your head...) It seemed the Capitol was used as comic relief because the people looked "funny"...
The lack of District-ness. So, we saw Rue's district for all of 30 seconds... but what do we know about them besides that they once started to rebel? why did they rebel? whats wrong with the other districts? 12 looks rough but the Capitol doesn't, aren't any more like that?... (asks an audience, having not read the book)
Plus, the snippet of District 4 looked exactly like District 12. It seems the "industries" of the Districts were bypassed.
Peeta's leg. He still has it. Need I say more?
Cinna (and his designs!) Lenny Kravitz was great, but his character was devoid of any flair. Even his dress designs - a feature of the book - and his so-called "transformation" of Katniss were entirely uncommentable. Yes she wore flames, but why did the cinema audience care? It looked shoe-horned in and gimmicky. I would have cut it...
The Games itself. Biggest disappointment this one. The Capitol went all Star Trek on us with a touch-screen sci-fi spectacular control centre... the introduction of "muttations" was contrived and unexplained. (Apparently the Capitol can create creatures for the Games at whim now?) - It kind of felt like "and now theres some JabberJays coz shes stuck in a tree", "and now theres a Mockingjay because she needs to communicate". Also, the rule changes didn't stem from a Capitol's urgency to retain control over the districts as Katniss defied them, but seemed petty and unreasonable for the wrong reasons.
Just look at it O_O it's not even gold!