Let me preface this by saying, yes, I read the books. In fact my entire book club read all three books in one month. (We're crazy like that.) Because I discussed the books with my book club, I know them fairly well. I am not completely obsessed though. I have not read them multiple times, I do not write fan fiction, I did not wear a Team Gale or Team Peeta shirt to the premiere and I certainly did not put my hair up in a Katniss-style braid.
It's not long enough.
Without any further ado (but probably many more side-comments,) here are my thoughts about The Hunger Games.
Oh, yeah. There are probably spoilers. Don't read if you are just going to get mad at me about it.
1. I felt differently about the three main characters after watching the movie. Peeta has always been my favorite. He is protective, strong, kind, big-hearted and has great people-skills. I felt like the movie portrayed him as wimpier than he was in the book. I have never seen Peeta's self-sacrifice as wimpiness. (I know others disagree. Feel free to tell me I am wrong in the comments.) When I read the book, I didn't really care for Gale. He seemed a little too self-serving for my taste. I really felt for him in the movie. I was never a fan of Katniss in the books. Wait, let me re-word that. I admired her grit, but never actually liked her in the books. She never seemed to be herself. I felt like she was both manipulated and manipulative and only did and said things if they benefited her. I realize this is a survival skill, but it bothered me. She felt more complete to me in the movie.
2. I must be getting old, because that shaky hand-held camera work about pushed me over the edge. There were times when it was effective in showing the absolute chaos, but damn. Sometimes I just wanted to FOCUS on something. On the other hand, I LOVED how at times the outside noises would be overpowered by the noises in Katniss' head and we could really know how overwhelmed she was feeling.
3. Ceasar Flickerman is one smarmy S.O.B. Great job with that character!
4. I loved Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. I had pictured Haymitch as a little softer and bald, but I like this casting choice.
5. It was really neat to see how the Gamemakers controlled the games.
6. I did expect the Capitol fashions to be more over-the-top. The Capitol felt a little bit like The Emerald City.
7. I would love to have Lenny Kravitz be my designer, you know, if I had a designer.
8. I was disappointed in the Chariots/Tribute Parade. I had imagined way more stylized costumes showcasing the different districts. They just looked like different colored gladiator costumes to me. Peeta and Katniss' costumes looked like something out of Star Trek. That being said, Katniss' "Girl on Fire" dress was pretty awesome. I'll take one of those.
9. I had imagined President Snow much frailer and ickier...Donald Sutherland's version was much more complex. We got to hear his thoughts about Katniss. I liked that. Nothing in this world is black and white.
10. I would give it 4/5. I enjoyed the hell out of it. I was on the edge of my seat (and completely jumped out of my skin at one point in time.) When Katniss was ascending in the tube, my heart was pounding. I laughed. I cried. Is it out of the park? No, but it's definitely a triple. See it in the theater.
For those of you who want to know if you should take your kids: I took KJ and three of his 6th grade friends. They had all read it (that was my rule) and they knew what to expect. Between the four of them, they gave it an average of 9.5/5 stars. (4/5, 4/5, 5/5 and 25/5.) I would not take my 4th grade daughter. I have not let her read it either. The subject matter is just plain dark. The scenes are not too gory, but it is intense. The scenes between Katniss and Peeta are chaste...crap, all of the ED commercials on TV are way worse than this. Some of the scenes are quite emotionally wrenching.
Bottom line: You need to know your kid. Can they handle a story about kids being forced to kill other kids on live TV?