But I must admit, "The Hunger Games" surprised me. While the movie doesn't have all of the knowledge you get in the book by hearing Katniss' thoughts, all of the basic and important scenes, characters, and dialogue made the transition from book to the screen smoothly, leaving me feeling as though the book-verse and movie-verse were in harmony for this particular story.
If you've read other reviews, you know that the acting, special effects, costumes, music, ... are excellent. But I want to stress that for the length of the movie, I didn't see Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson on the screen - I saw Katniss and Peeta. I had no idea that Elizabeth Banks played Effie Trinket - I used IMDB to look up who played her because the actress became Effie. That's how good these actors are.
The movie does perform better than the book in illustrating the dichotomy between the citizens living in the Capitol and the citizens living in the Districts. The citizens of the Capitol applaud the arrival of the Hunger Games every year, either ignorant or indifferent to the suffering of the participants and their districts. The Districts treat the Hunger Games in one of two ways. Either they train their children to participate, knowing that they only have to win to live a comfortable life. Or they hope that their own children don't get chosen and support the unlucky families whose children do. In the Capitol, the masses possess such abundance of food, and money that they focus on outward appearances, contriving outrageous hairstyle, outfits, and make-up. Yet friendships, love, and loyalty mean little to them. But in the Districts, people enjoy friendships, love, and loyalty while struggling to survive on little food or money.
If you are planning on both reading the book and seeing the movie, I suggest that you read the book first. You will understand more about the situation, and yet you'll still be entertained by the move.
Overall, I give this film 10 stars (**********) out of 10.