Spoilers for all three books abound!! You have been warned
And it was awesome in general too, but there were things I didn't like. I've seen it once (going to see it again today) and the first time around, I couldn't help but be fixated by all the little things that weren't there.
I was okay with Madge not being there, but I missed seeing Peeta's dad give Katniss cookies, I missed getting to know Rue, I missed Peeta saying "come to finish me off, sweetheart," I missed more time in the cave, I missed the Mutts being the dead tributes, I missed Katniss and Haymitch right after the games, and a hundred other little details that weren't there.
The movie is over 2 hours long, and it needs to be. Despite how faithful the movie is to the book, I couldn't help but wish we had more time with the characters. The cave scene with Katniss and Peeta didn't do it for me the way I wished it would. In fact, I never felt the Katniss/Peeta relationship start to develop. That little feeling Katniss gets when she kisses Peeta didn't come across to me. :(
I have hope that it will get stronger with Catching Fire though!
But I still loved the movie. I loved how it stood apart from the book as a fast-paced, exciting movie, while still staying true to the overall story and characters. I loved the tone the movie set, I loved the score, I loved Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, and I (surprisingly) loved Lenny Kravitz as Cinna.
Getting to see some of the things Katniss can only imagine intensified the movie, as well. So much so that I actually liked Seneca Crane and felt bad because I knew how things would end for him. The special effects were awesome too. And the acting! The acting was perfect!! I can't tell you how many times I teared up while watching it and I'm never really much of a movie cryer.
All in all, The Hunger Games was fantastic and I have a feeling my second go around will be even better. I think those who read the book prior to seeing the movie, may just need to see it a second time, to get past all the little details and really enjoy it.
*UPDATED with second time viewing thoughts*
So I've seen The Hunger Games movie twice now and I liked it a lot more the second time around. I still miss the little things, but I enjoyed the film more as a whole this time. Most of the changes work well and condense this complex story into a cohesive and enjoyable film.
Would I still liked to have seen a lot of things? Absolutely. But for the most part, the film works without them.
One thing that got me more the second time around was the mockingjay pin. I'm okay with it not coming from Madge, but the symbolism behind it is lost when Katniss just picks it up at the Hob. It's a meaningless, pretty token to her. Then it becomes a sweet gift from Prim and a secret token to bring into the arena. Its meaning is lost on Katniss, as is its power to the districts.
The emotional pull was still strong though. I felt it the first time, no doubt, but I had goosebumps when Katniss volunteers and again when Rue dies and we see the beginnings of an uprising in District 11.
That's another thing I've seen complaints about that I actually enjoyed. Seeing the immediate affects of what Katniss is doing is important to the audience, especially those who haven't read the book. Katniss isn't just some girl fighting to make it home to her sister. Without all of her internal monologue, the audience doesn't get to know her as well, but seeing her affect on others will keep the audience rooting for her. She's fighting to the death, but also maintains the integrity that Peeta says he's desperate to keep.
Katniss stays true to Katniss and despite her prickly demeanor, she's someone who others can rally behind because she's kind and loving deep down.
The Katniss/Peeta relationship felt stronger to me this time around too. Still not so much from the cave scenes, but I had that feeling when Clove eats the berries and Katniss thinks Peeta has died. I loved how she just throws herself into Peeta's arms and you can tell that she really would have been devastated if he had died.
And about Seneca again...I think I love him. He comes across as such a genuine person, despite the fact that he's kind of masterminding the deaths of kids.
Oh, and I liked movie Gale so much more than book Gale.
Please make me eat those words in Catching Fire, Peeta!!