I'm not going to say The Hunger Games is the best film ever but what they have done, is create a film for the readers. It doesn't deviate from the plot or cut out great swathes, if anything, maybe they tried to cram a bit too much of the actual book in. There's a long build up to the games only to rush through some of the scenes in the arena later on.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the film. It was rather ruined by the whispering of teenagers in the cinema and at one point where someone started laughing and started everyone else off (except me). If you're over 20, I suggest going to see a late showing!
Jennifer Lawrence was excellent as Katniss, confident in her natural environment but slightly awkward when faced with the glamourous world of show biz. It's a quiet performance, which echoes the introspective feel of the book. It must be hard to adapt first person narrative onto the big screen successfully but I think they've done a good job even if some of the relationships seemed to develop out of nowhere. The commentators were used to explain things that wouldn't work as dialogue in the arena.
I do wonder if the film works for those not familiar with the book. I didn't get any feeling of the abject poverty that those outside the Capitol were living in. Nothing really covered how desperate families were or the real impact of Peeta giving Katniss bread. He saved her life and she owes him...instead there isn't anything but the crush to bind them together. None of the reasoning behind the games (other than a quick propaganda video at the reaping) and swapping entries for food. The opulence of the rich was obvious but the gap between them not so much.
The action is filmed with fast camera movements in the hope no one will see anything violent happening. In the UK, blood splashes were digitally removed from the final cut, though how anyone is going to believe you can kill someone without getting blood on your knife, I don't know. It has been sanitised for a younger audience and somehow loses the brutal quality of the novel. I personally think it rather defeats the object of having a film about a fight to the death for the entertainment of the rich, in order to oppress the masses, if you're going to go around pretending it's not really happening. But that is another discussion altogether.