Hubby and I had a "day date" to see The Hunger Games and have lunch together to kinda kick off my birthday weekend (which, actually, I don't have big plans for... hahaha!). We went to the nicest theater in our area, which offers balcony seating for ages 21 and over (and they make the BEST Lemon Drops! :-)). So, in addition to having nice leather seats and delicious refreshments, it was basically squealy teenager free. There might have been a few school-skippers below decks, but they were quiet. LOL
Speaking of squealy teenagers, The Hunger Games, while obviously popular, doesn't necessarily strike me as one of "those" movies. The overall theme is extremely serious, and yes, there are lots of nice-looking young people involved. But, hey, they're covered in mud and grime, with oozing wounds. We're not talking sparkly vampires here (which I happen to like as well :-)). This is a tough situation for these kids to deal with and potentially very thought-provoking, if viewers want to pay that much attention. I actually think some good lessons could be learned through the struggle for life, both in the starving districts and in the arena.
The mockingjay pin discrepancy mostly has to do with introducing more characters and another storyline, which most films just don't have the time for. There was one other part of the story that went along those lines, but I won't discuss it so I don't spoiler anything for anyone who hasn't read the book.
I think casting was pretty spot on. Of course, I wish we had more time in the District so we could get to know them better, particularly Gale. I haven't had time to read past the first book, but I'm guessing we get a lot more of that later on.
There aren't any crazy special effects. I mean, they have to come up with some interesting technical things for the Gamemakers and the workings of the Capitol, but the cinematography was pretty simple (good, but not flashy) and the focus is really on the characters themselves, which is great for this film.
Overall, I think one of the best book-to-film adaptations I've seen. I'm already an HG fan, so of course the story is great. Read the book--if you like the book, you will like the movie :-)...
Have a GREAT weekend!