Spoiler alert! If you haven't seen Hunger Games but are going to, I give away some plots points here. But if you've read the book, you've been spoiled anyway.
Zane took me on a date (probably our last for, I don't know, a year or so) a few weeks ago to see Hunger Games. I loved the first book, liked the second, and was highly disappointed in the third. I mean, come on, why did you kill EVERY character I liked, with the exception of Katniss and Peeta? Oh, and Gale. But I didn't really care that much about him by the end, either. And a de facto Hunger Games for the army? Lame. ANYWAY.
Overall, I really liked it. I was absolutely bawling during the reaping. Since becoming a mom, this sort of thing is so painful to watch and imagine. By "this sort of thing" I mean thinking about a child (my child) in trouble that I can't do anything about. I can shut down my imagination PDQ when NPR starts talking about a 3-year-old dying from a shrapnel wound in Homs or when I hear about the child soldiers in Uganda who are kidnapped after being forced to kill their parents, but when it's there on screen it's harder to ignore. Boy, this paragraph is a real downer. Onward!
Some people have complained that the hand-held camera that recorded the early deaths at the Cornucopia was distracting and, well, lame. I liked it, though. Who wants to see the actual deaths of these kids? Zane pointed out that it's bad enough to see adult-on-adult violence, but kids? Nope, don't want the details. Fuzzy images are more than enough.
I also liked the District 11 revolt. This was in book 2, but fits well here. I can just imagine the despair of who I assume to be Rue's father when he sees his baby girl die on the big screen. Oh, this is the other part that had me bawling. Glad I live far enough away from my students to know none of them were in the audience with me, because this was not an I'm-the-adult-in-control moment. No, it was not. I can see how Rue's death could be a spark to the rebels.
The book is written in first person, and there is a fair amount of exposition that goes on in Katniss's thoughts. That doesn't translate well to a movie. I liked how they gave you that information by showing the gamemakers and Haymitch's machinations. That worked well.
The one thing I really didn't like was how the film portrayed Cinna. He was only my favorite character in the book, or at least vying for first. But in the film he was little more than a background character, not the awesome, gifted, sympathetic man who would help create the Mockingjay. They tried, kind of, but failed.
So. I liked it. I do think anyone who hasn't read the book won't like it as much, but it was true to the spirit and text of the book, with just enough changes to make it a movie instead.