Let me start by saying it’s good; as good as the book, if not better.  If you haven’t already read the book, this won’t be very helpful, but there aren’t any real spoilers either.  The first thing I noticed was that the guy who plays Peeta seemed way too short to me, he’s a few inches shorter than Katniss.  And soon after that I was very surprised to see Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, for some reason I was picturing an old fat guy.  But as the film went on, both actors grew on me.

Overall the movie does a great job of sticking to what happens in the book, and not leaving out anything too major.  Really my only gripe in this area is that because it’s condensed (an inevitable dilemma when turning a book into a movie), everything happens too quickly during “the games.”  Cold, hunger, thirst, and bad weather never become a factor, simply because there isn’t time for them to.  This is a little annoying because one, it’s called “The Hunger Games,” and two, they make a point of saying during the training that many of the kids will die from these conditions, rather than at the hands of each other.

What the movie gives you that the book does not is a view of things from beyond Katniss’ perspective.  Much of it is actually very reminiscent of The Truman Show.  From the fact that the games take place in a giant dome full of tiny TV cameras everywhere, to the ability of the producers to manipulate weather and daylight on a whim.  And most notably, the efforts made to force Katniss (or Truman) to turn around by creating a fire when she gets too close to the outer boundaries.  As a whole the movie puts a lot of emphasis on how the games work as a television show, something that is missing from the book.  One scene I particularly liked included a giant odds board of all the contestants and their chances of winning; i.e. “Rue: 60-1.”  Unlike the book the film also gives you insight into how much the people in charge of the games actually choose who lives and dies.  Although my friends tell me I’ll learn more about that when I read book number two.

My advice?  Read The Hunger Games first (it’s super quick) if you haven’t already, then go see the movie.  You’ll like both.

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