Man, I haven't been in a movie theater in ages, let alone for an opening night. But yesterday I found out that The Hunger Games was playing within walking distance of my workplace about a half hour after I got out of said workplace, and decided I would give myself an adventure. When I got there I stood around for a while in a crowd of approximately ten kajillion teenagers, because I couldn't see where tickets were being sold nor even if they were available without pre-order, and then one of the teenagers scalped me one so I stood around a bit longer until it became clear that I was in the right line. I even had a sandwich with me. And a book to read while waiting for the lights to go down. I must have looked rather odd but I had a good time.
Part of the reason I was excited for this adaptation was that I thought there was a lot about the story that would actually work better in this medium, and I feel I was right. The sets were fantastic and the special effects seamless as far as I could see, and the action was extremely actiony. The top thing the movie had going for it, though, was Jennifer Lawrence: gorgeous, talented, and absolutely perfect as Katniss. Points also for the casting of Peeta, Gale, Rue, Effie, Foxface and practically everyone. The only ones who countered my mental image at all were Haymitch and Cinna, but I got used to them quickly and I like what they did with their parts.
So here's my obligatory list of what I wish they hadn't left out:
• Peeta punching Haymitch.
• Any of the conversations between Rue and Katniss about their districts and themselves.
• Any reference to "girl on fire" after Katniss gets set on fire.
• Katniss screaming Peeta's name after the announcement that they can both win.
• An actual appearance of a mockingjay, or the explanation of what they are.
• Cato flipping out when the supplies are blown up.
And here's my less obligatory list of what I'm glad they did change:
• The muttations - the dead-tributes-cum-werewolves would not have translated well, and I always thought they were pretty silly anyway.
• The execution of the Head Gamemaker (what was his name?) being implied already.
• Haymitch's notes in the gifts.
• Seeing the Gamemakers at work, the talk show discussions, and the reactions of the audience. That was actually what I anticipated most, and it delivered, even though I had to laugh every time Katniss and Peeta kissed and then it cut to Gale. The riot in District 11 was breathtaking.
• The pin being an exchange between Katniss and Prim. I missed Madge, but she really wasn't necessary.
• The bad logic of the Capitol's style of oppression was actually addressed a little? It wasn't 100% satisfactory, but I like that they tried.
And my list of things that stayed the same in a yay manner:
• So glad they didn't hold back with Capitol fashions. This must have been a costume designer's dream job.
• That said, also glad they didn't do anything with Snow's lips, because I couldn't picture that and every time I tried it grossed me out.
• Every time Katniss shot an arrow I felt like that alone was worth the price of admission.
• When you read the books, it comes as a shock when the teenagers start brutally murdering each other even though you know it's coming - it worked the same way in the movie, and I could hear it in the reactions of my fellow viewers.
• Peeta's interview with Caesar. Just a fantastic, believable scene, with a lot going on beneath the surface.
Short spoiler-free version: I do recommend it!