The author of The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins, helped write the screenplay. Which is always encouraged. However, the movie could have used more character connections, especially where Peeta was involved. Spoiler - We never got the moment where Katniss realized Peeta's love wasn't a strategy. And that was, in the book, a very moving part of the story.
Although, the movie really did follow the books almost to a T. Unlike the Harry Potter movies, and the Twilight movies, the acting was phenomenal on all accounts. I wasn't sure about Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, but, it turns out, he fit the role excellently.
A few nights before we saw The Hunger Games, we, my husband and I, re-watched Jack and Jill. Afterwards we had a discussion about Katie Holmes' acting, especially her acting in Batman Begins where she tries to act scared. She needs to study from Jennifer Lawrence; this Katniss has got it down.
Mostly I felt like I was watching the book, yet the problem with any book-made-movie is that when you read a book you LIVE it, and when you watch the movie... you watch it. It's two different experiences for the same story; one is generally always going to be better, and that is usually the book experience. You NEED to get The Hunger Games book experience and not live off of movie alone.
It's a fine movie, but a Hunger Games movie is almost unnecessary. I almost want it to be completely different. What I would like is if all we saw were what the districts and capital audiences saw and none of the background stuff. Let's see what's going on for the other tributes while they have their interviews, and deaths. Let's go for a completely different experience all together, since we cannot get the same experience from a movie that we do from a book.
All in all, I was not disappointed in the least, and if you're of strong constitution, you should see this movie. I loved their coal costumes, but we have GOT to do away with shaky-cam.