Basically, even though we were there well in advance, a bunch of teenagers snagged rows of seats and kept others from sitting there, so we had to sit in the third row from the screen -- which was awful! It took more than half the movie before I was used to being that close. In addition, the idiots kept laughing EVERY SINGLE TIME there was anything hinting at romance. Katniss kissing Peeta on the cheek? Laughter. Gale reacting to Katniss kissing Peeta on the cheek? Laughter. The full-on Katniss/Peeta kiss? Laughter. Peeta lightly brushing the end of Katniss' braid (my single favorite Katniss/Peeta moment)? Laughter. (My single favorite Katniss/Peeta moment almost ruined. Grrr.)
The movie itself was really well-done. They captured the spirit of the books beautifully, and all of the changes from the book, all cut from the book (but one thing) worked perfectly. Bullet points --
- The one thing cut I missed was District 11 giving Katniss the bread.
- The scenes with Seneca and Snow were pure gold. Especially the first in the garden where Snow talks about Seneca needing to contain Katniss' spark, and the last where Seneca came upon a bowl of nightlock berries. That last touch there was just sheer perfection.
- I really liked how they got around the memories in Katniss' head about her father, and Peeta giving her bread by using flashbacks, woven in the story, and Cesar as host to explain aspects (like the tracker-jackers).
- The very brief interaction between Katniss and Buttercup (Prim's cat) perfectly detailed their relationship, although Buttercup was not even remotely hideous. They also nailed the history of Katniss and her mother in the goodbye scene with just a few lines and excellent acting from Jennifer Lawrence and Paula Malcolmson.
- When I knew this was going to be right was after Peeta talked to Katniss on the train about Haymitch being their mentor and they needed to learn from him, then Haymitch comes in and is a drunken ass. When he turned and walked out, Peeta looked at Katniss, and a lesser movie that did not get the book, would have had her respond sarcastically about him mentoring them. I actually braced myself for it. Nope, didn't happen. Her response was quiet and perfectly in character.
- Rue and Prim were both beautifully cast. Stanley Tucci as Cesar was stupendous. All of the casting was very well done. Although, yes, I will say it, as good as Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss was, I didn't buy her as a 16-year old for a second. Oh well. Of the three "leads," despite being the one I worried the most about, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta was my favorite. He nailed Peeta. NAILED HIM! Everything about him, his sweetness, his optimism paired with realism, his charm, his charisma, his determination, his love for Katniss ... he was perfection. And the blond hair looked natural.
I put "leads" in quotes because despite reports that they were pumping up the triangle to appeal to the Twilight crowd, such was not the case. Other than a few reaction shots, we got no more of Gale in the movie than we did in the book. And Liam Hemsworth was good with what we had.
- Heh, Elizabeth Banks was fabulous as Effie (her "manners!" cracked me up), as was Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, and if they weren't even kinda shipped after the books, I'm sure that their interaction in the film will lead more down that road, LOL!
- The Capitol was bright and flamboyant, but it did look a bit cheap to me. The costumes were good, and while neither of Katniss's on-fire stuff played out like I imagined when I read the books, they worked.
- I did think that Lawrence and Hutcherson had chemistry, but honestly, it was dampened by the oh-so-irritating crowd. You just couldn't get into the moments because of their tittering and giggling. I expect to much more enjoy their scenes when I see the film again without the teen-age crowd of annoyance.
- Gary Ross did an EXCELLENT job at showing us without showing us the violence of the games. Any of the violent interaction was done in fast close-ups, or blurs, or cross-cuts in a way that made you feel the horror, but not witness it enough to get an R-rating.
Overall, it felt like the book, the acting, the writing, the direction was fantastic. I was quite, quite happy with it. :)