So, late to the party, I got to see the Hunger Games! I enjoyed it, but coming home, I’ve now heard a flurry of complaints about the adaptation that I found incredible. And no, I don’t mean the crowd of fans complaining about Cinna and Rue’s race.

This still makes me cringe. . .

As for the movie, I was impressed, overall. The movie carried the major themes of the book quite well. The cast was spectacular, and Cinna was absolutely brilliantly portrayed by Lenny Kravitz.

Totally crushing on Cinna, I don't care what anyone says!

Beyond the story, which didn’t break far enough from the book for me to worry about it, I absolutely loved the cinematography. A thing about the Hunger Games books is the amount of introspection that’s present. Katniss is often alone, and she spends a lot of time thinking. The movie was able to capture this in the specific shots they chose to portray key scenes, like the pyramid of food.

One scene I absolutely loved was Seneca Crane’s final scene in the movie. With no dialogue, we’re treated to Seneca coming to realize what the cost of failure is in the Capitol.

If you haven’t seen this one yet, definitely go out and do so when you have the chance!

Now, the review out of the way, I want to talk about adaptations in general. When it comes to book-to-movie adaptations, I’m a stickler. But it’s not the point to point remakes I look for (Though I did once upon a time). The key thing for me when evaluating a book-to-movie adaptation is the spirit of the story.

Let’s start with an adaptation I didn’t like. I did not like The Lord of the Rings. I feel a lot of the emotion that drove the book was missing, in favor of many more ‘kick-ass’ scenes. This may have been good for the movie goers, and when I shut off the critical side of my brain, I can enjoy the trilogy. But it never rang as a true adaptation.

But then we have the Hunger Games and the Golden Compass. I felt both of these movies were true to their source material, even if the latter diverged wildly in plot elements. The sense of despair and hope that was the key to the Hunger Games (And pointed out by President Snow) is still there, and much more immediate to the audience, since we don’t have to follow Katniss’s ever-calculating mind through the games. The Golden Compass kept that sense of wonder, and eventually, terror, that made the first His Dark Materials book so grabbing.

So when I say a movie adaptation of a book was good, I don’t mean to not read the book, I mean the movie stands on its own as a spectacular presentation of the story. I hope more people start looking at them the same way.