I mentioned that my wife and I managed to go out on Friday, missing the Caps game against the Jets. We were going to see The Artist, but my wife decided she couldn't sit through a silent movie. So we ended up going to The Hunger Games. (It being opening night, I was surprised we didn't have trouble getting tickets (or seats), but I think that was just because we went to such and early show. There were already lines for later shows when we got to the theater.)
And, to my surprise, my wife, who went into it knowing, "that she [Katniss] did something to help her sister". I didn't think it was her style, plus she knew nothing of it, so I wasn't at all sure she'd be happy with it. But she liked it quite a bit.
They did some very interesting things in the adaptation. Instead of staying totally in Kat's perspective, they cut away to a cut-from-whole-cloth control room during parts of the Games sequences. They made things a little confusing in at least one way, with the dogs at the end, but it was a cool thing to see. They also showed President Snow pushing his weight around a bit behind the scenes (my guess is that Donald Sutherland insisted on having more screen time). The rule changes also seemed much more abrupt and capricious.
My main disappointments with the movie were the removal of Madge, making the Mockingjay pin a gift from someone (Greasy Sae?) in the Hob (I know the woman next to me read the book, because when this happened, I let slip a "What?", and she said, "I know" in an agreeing tone). Prim was also even weaker than in the book. And the entrance of the "Girl on Fire" was pretty lame. It just did nothing for me, at all.
One thing that really hit me was the difference in appearance of Kat's behavior, when you didn't have her thoughts to go along with her actions. Her behavior towards Peeta seemed really terrible, and mercenary. I think that was not an accident (nor do I necessarily think it was "wrong"), but it felt a whole lot different.
A smaller one that I had mixed feelings about was when Kat was judged for "deadliness" just before the start of the games. She got back to her apartment, and everyone knew what she had done. Haymitch's reaction, as well as Effie's, were both good, and played on each other well. But I liked it better where they asked what she had done and she just said something like, "I got their attention". Perhaps that would have been too hard to do without knowing her thoughts on the matter, though.
We also only got to see some of the baggage between Peeta and Kat. My guess, though, is that that was just a matter of screen time. It was interesting, the way they did it, but a little weird, too. Because not only did we not see all of the situation, but what we did see was spread out a bit as well.
The last thing that felt missing was the explanation for the mockingjay. They said what the pin was, but didn't touch on its significance. I imagine they'll have to do that in the second movie. Certainly, they'll need to before they get too far into the third.
Overall, I thought it was very good. Not perfect, but very good. I don't think I'll go see it again in the theater, but I'll certainly buy it on blu-ray, when the time comes.