The great thing about the The Hunger Games movie: it is indeed the hunger games as we know it. As a book reader of The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, I find it amazing how most of the scenes matched those in my imagination.
But the movie is a bit lacking in terms of acting probably because of the poor casting. For someone who have not read the book, it would seem impossible to understand who's who and what they mean to the story. The movie failed to establish relationships among characters and introduce those who were important in the story.
Jennifer Lawrence played the characteristics of Katniss perfectly, but the onscreen Katniss and Peeta lacked the chemistry that was clearly elaborated in the book. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson did not click as a pair and the movie did not focus much on the buildup of their love story in the arena. Lawrence looked more mature and definitely taller than Hutcherson. There was no feeling of "butterflies in the stomach" whenever there were Katniss-Peeta moments onscreen.
On a more positive note, the fashion styles during the parade and interviews of Tributes from District 12 are great. Thanks to Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. Effie Trinket and Haymitch Abernathy was also perfectly portrayed just as readers would imagine them. The camerawork during the tracker jacker attack is so effective in making viewers feel like they've been in that situation as well.
In terms of futuristic locations, the Capitol is not a typical place. Aside from the weird fashion sense, the modern technology and the colorful interiors, their idea of monitoring and manipulating a nationwide survival game for randomly chosen teenagers is just brutal.
To sum up, the book is a whole lot better than the movie. Viewers should read it first or read it after watching the film to fully understand and grasp the idea of The Hunger Games as well as its characters.