Before I say anything, I want to make it clear that I don’t expect screenplays to mimic their book counterparts exactly. It’s just not possible to get every single detail from a book into a two hour screenplay. They are two entirely different mediums that have their own strengths and weaknesses.
First I want to say that I did enjoy the movie – it did a good job capturing the important points of the first book, with some special effects that only a movie can do.
In The Hunger Games books I pictured everyone being younger and more innocent. This will only be more evident to me in the sequel and third movie, as the core actors are not getting any younger. Yet, as Hollywood screenplays tend to do, the characters become larger than life, so this is to be expected. I also agree with the cast choices for the roles of Katniss, Peeta, and Gale – that is almost 99% how I pictured them in the books before the first movie even released the cast names.
I did not picture Effie Trinket to be so scary looking and pale. Where did that come from? I might have pictured her to be blond and overly nice, but who decided she should look like a clown? Negatives aside, I think Elizabeth Banks did a great job in that role, seeing how it turned out.
When Primrose was called on reaping day, I thought the emotions were a little bit dry. Katniss and Primrose’s mother just kind of stood there like it was a normal thing for her daughter to be called into a slaughter. Katniss also seemed like she almost expected Prim to be called – not even going through any emotions (you’d think she’d be shocked and sad first), but immediately she went into defense mode.
I completely forgot about Seneca Crane in the books (played by Wes Bentley in the movie). Either I read the first book too fast, or they made Seneca’s role much larger in the movie.
I did not really get a strong sense of how impoverished Katniss (and other District 12 residents) were. They jumped right into the reaping, and then it was on to the capitol.
That being said, overall the character exploration was weak, but that’s to be expected from a movie versus a book.