I loved the Hunger Games book trilogy so much I've been both nervous and excited to see the movie. I've been planning to see it, and on opening weekend, since I started reading the books. But, as the time drew near, I kept getting more nervous. After I had purchased my tickets a couple of days in advance, I found myself really nervous. I generally do not like movies about books I love and this could have been a very violent and graphic movie.
I was pleasantly surprised. Although no movie is exactly like the book, this one is very close. There were some parts left out and even some minor characters left out, but the overall story wasn't changed. The characters were amazing and had you falling in love with the right people from the beginning. Plus, knowing what is coming, the characterization of some characters will make it easy to despise them in the future.
One of the best parts of the movie was seeing the creation of costumes and the crazy attire, food, etc. of the capital. I enjoy imagining scenes from books in my mind and often filmmakers can't come close. The imaginations of the filmmakers in this movie far outdid anything my imagination could come up with. The movie was a visual feast for the eyes.
If you have read the Hunger Games or even a plot synopsis, you should expect a lot of violence. It is impossible to have a "game" where 24 tributes enter and fight to the death for 1 victor without a lot of violence and death. I am pleased to say there was not as much blood and graphic violence as I was afraid there might be. There is death and you do see some blood, but much of the actual violence is off-screen and left to your imagination. The cinematography during the initial rush to the cornucopia to get supplies was hard for me to watch. It was very choppy and in constant movement. It was hard for my eyes to focus and I had to close my eyes to avoid a headache.
I do have to say it was helpful to have read the books ahead of time. Although the movie does stand alone, it was helpful to have read the history and have more information than they had time to give in the movie. I'm already waiting for Catching Fire to come out.