Click HERE to read Lisa's movie review in the 3/29/12 issue of Entertainment Weekly. Click HERE to read my reviews of all three books in the trilogy.
This comparison is NOT a microscopic analysis of every single discrepancy between the movie and the book. As we all know, a book's transformation into a movie requires certain adjustments. Film makers are forced to make compromises that frequently alter or eliminate certain details—even characters and scenes—as they write their screenplay. Keep in mind that Suzanne Collins was one of the screenwriters, so she approved, or at least consented to, all of the changes. Still, a reader/viewer is entitled to a divergent opinion. The points that I make here are ONLY those that seemed most important to me as I watched the movie.
Each of the pink links below will take you to the appropriate page on the Hunger Games Wiki.
Director Gary Ross wanted to keep this a PG-13 film, so he filmed the violence in an impressionistic way. There are no lingering, slow-motion shots of heads falling off shoulders or blood dripping down arms and faces. Sword slashes are seen as seconds-long flashes. You see blood, but the images are thrown at you so fast that you get just a horrific impression of the violence. For me, the initial Arena scene conveys the brutality in manner that is blood-curdling perfect.
The Capitol itself is stunning with its minimalist architecture and sweeping lines, and it fit with my mental image from the book.
I admit that I doubted that the filmmakers could successfully portray the coal-fire chariot suits and Katniss' fiery interview dress, but the costume designers are apparently just as good as Cinna because the flaming costumes looked terrific.
The story in the book has much more detail than a movie could ever include, so I strongly recommend that you read the book before seeing the film. Two areas that would have enhanced the film if they had been emphasized more are the scenes in the Hob with Greasy Sae and the scenes between Katniss and Rue. (Although, I must admit that teenage girls sitting near me were sobbing during the flowery death scene.) The mutts are handled differently in the movie than in the book, where they were dog-like apparitions of the dead tributes. That connection isn't made in the film, and that totally changes the meaning of the scene, making it a plain vanilla horror experience when it should have had a much deeper, and even more horrible, significance to the characters and the viewers alike.