To be honest, this movie was a tad disappointing. Maybe my expectations were a little too high, or maybe this movie was a bit overrated. It's hard to give an honest review since I read the books but I'll try my best.
The acting in this movie was great with the exception of Lenny Kravitz. His performance was very dull and he didn't fit Cinna so well. Jennifer Lawrence was wonderful and fit the role of Katniss perfectly. She has proven that she can carry a film, I adored her even if her cheeks were way too puffy/big. Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci were wonderful as well, they both nailed the characters. Even little Willow Shields did a great job as Primrose. The Rest of the cast was good but not as good as the people I mentioned.
They captured the story and plot well, not surprised at all since the Author was a screenwriter. They managed to stay true to the book with some minor exceptions here and there(Madge ehem!? Avox Girl?! Prep team?!). I like how they actually added more stuff that wasn't in the book which was President snow having conversations with Seneca.
For the first hour, the events preceding the games I think they nailed perfectly. The Set-up to the games was perfect. with an exception here and there(I was disappointed by the flaming capes, they looked so fake. That was a great opportunity to do something amazing and really WOW the audience but they blew it, my reaction just ended up being Meh.).
While the first hour was perfect, the same cannot be said for the games themselves which was everything after the first hour. The games are suppose to be this exciting, special event but they failed to capture any of this well enough. The game itself wasn't tense like it was in the book, they failed to capture any of that. They should have given Rue more screen time with Katniss during the game. I only felt what I did that moment with Rue was because I read the book. For people who didn't read the book I bet probably didn't care or feel that much. Had the games been as tense and suspenseful like it was in the book, it would have made everything more exciting, entertaining, and better.
I understand that if this film was rated R, this movie would have lost a ton of money as a huge portion of their fan base consists of teenagers. However, had they been truly faithful to the source material this would have been rated R, and it would have added a lot more. It probably would have made the movie better, it would have added more tension and suspense to the games.
The other problem I had with this movie was the shaky cam. I get why he did it, to show everything from Katniss's point of view because the in the book it's told from mostly katniss's thoughts. Had there been voice overs this would have completely ruined the film, so I think what Gary ross did was the right thing. However, he went overboard with the shaking. It makes sense for the games, but there was no need to jerk the camera around while she was walking down a street or having a conversation with someone.
The last thing that bothered me was the chemistry between Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. I know in the book the romance between them was fake but there was at least some chemistry. In the movie, there was hardly any chemistry which is a problem if we're suppose to buy into the romance.
Last thing, the visuals. Thankfully this movie wasn't in 3D. The visuals, while great, weren't anything first rate or spectacular. The best examples would be the fire capes, and the mutts which they ruined. I also forgot to mention the costume design and art direction. Both were great and deserve recognition when it comes to Oscar time. They managed to do a good job at capturing the wacky styles of the capitol that they described in the book.
Conclusion: Lenny Kravitz was a miscast, his performance was dull. The games weren't as tense or thrilling as they should have been, had it been rated R and they were fully faithful to the book it would have made a difference. The shaky cam was too much at times, they jerked the camera around at moments when it was not necessary too. There wasn't that much chemistry between the leads. Finally while the visuals were good, they were still a notch below first rate. Now to the good stuff. The performances were great with the exception of Kravitz. The first hour leading up to the games was perfect. They managed not to butcher the story and plot. I liked the first person point of view style, it was a good decision rather than having to constantly listen to voice overs, and inner monologues. I also forgot to mention that I thought it was very creative of them to make Caesar Flickerman and Claudius Templesmith do commentary during the games to explain things that Katniss would try and figure out in her head. The Costume designs and art direction were great. this is a great movie and hopefully the next movie will be just as good as this one.