Let's start with the casting. I think that Jennifer Lawrence does a terrific job as Katniss Everdeen, and I can't really imagine anyone else paying her. Similarly, I thought that Liam Hemsworth was good as Gale with the little screen time that he had. Stanley Tucci was awesome as the TV host of The Hunger Games - all teeth and hair and smarmy charm. Woody Harrelson was good as the drunken mentor, Haymitch, and bought a little lightness to some of the scenes that was necessary. I can't remember where but somewhere, someone said that Lenny Kravitz as Cinna was really just Lenny Kravitz without his trademark sunnies, and that is possibly a fair assessment, but that limitation didn't detrimentally affect the scenes that he was in.
Did I mention that I recently went to see Lenny perform at an early morning freebie performance in the city. The man is like the ultimate rock god! Yum! Anyway...got a bit distracted there.
There are, of course, limitations between the depth of storytelling that you get when you read the book compared to watching the movie but in order to bring the movie at a reasonable length, cuts had to be made. I think that we missed the explanations of things like why Peeta started out in the alliance, we missed District 11 sending a package to Katniss, and the true face of the terror of the creation of the wolves at the end, and I think that the true oppression of the Capitol on the districts didn't come across as well on the screen as it did in the book.
I did think that there were a couple of really good additions that weren't in the book. I really liked that we got to see Haymitch beginning to campaign on behalf of his tributes, and I thought that the control room where the game was run from was really great too!
I am not a huge fan of shaky camera work and I did think that there was way too much of it in the first half of the movie. I expected that kind of thing during the actual games itself, but not before hand. I did also think that the pacing was a bit slow in parts and that it was possibly a fraction too long, but for the most part those are the worst things I can say about it.
I am trying to encourage my non-reader son to read the book. If I didn't think that it would send the wrong message, and if I didn't have dozens of other books to read, I would seriously consider a reread of The Hunger Games about now!
I guess the litmus test of your reaction to a movie is would you watch it again. For me, I would definitely watch this again, either on the big screen or most likely when it is on cable or DVD. The ending definitely left plenty of scope for the sequel. Maybe we will all be anxiously waiting for the release of Catching Fire in 18 months or so.
Speaking of anxiously waiting for a movie, I was pleased to see the first trailer for the movie of Stephenie Meyer's The Host came out at the end of last week. It doesn't have any of the movie in it and won't be out for another year, but I still had to send it to my friend who I know loved the book too. Maybe the next announcement will be a release date for the follow up book that we have been waiting for for so long!
Earthly Delights, the first book in the Corinna Chapman series by Kerry Greenwood, Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter, Thief of Lives by Lucy Sussex.
Either The Island by Victoria Hislop or Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown.