1. I could have done without the extremely shaky camera angles in the beginning. I get that it was a way for them to distinguish between the roughness of life in District 12 and the ease of life in the Capitol. But I get headaches easily. And I didn't appreciate it. I will say that the second time I saw the movie I was sitting higher up in the theater, which helped considerably.
2. I didn't really miss any of these things. Here's some other elements I did miss:
-Emphasis on Katniss' relationship with her dad, particularly her knowledge of plants and berries, which explains the whole nightlock business at the end.
-Katniss and Peeta's extreme thirst and search for water. When they won the games when I read the book, I was incredibly exhausted. I didn't feel that sense of exhaustion during the movie and think experiencing their water deprivation would have aided in that.
-More development of Katniss' relationship with Rue. I don't think people who haven't read the book would be very sad when she dies, whereas I cried.
Obviously I understand that the movie can't be six hours (although I immediately said I wished it was after seeing it the first time) and that they couldn't include everything, but I think these three details would have greatly improved the film. And three hours isn't too long.
3. Here's something positive that I wasn't expecting:
I loved Seneca Crane. Not only is he incredibly attractive (even with that crazy beard), but he was so likable (despite being the puppeteer of death in the arena). When I was reading the book, I knew that his character was important, but I didn't really develop an intense connection to him like I did in the movie. Loved the inclusion of the bowl of nightlock as his fateful end.
4. Despite my earlier predictions, the movie only reaffirmed my love for Gale and my annoyance with Peeta. I wish we could have seen more of him, but I know we will in the next two (or three) movies! I guess I'm just a bad-boy kind of girl.
5. Besides the credits, we didn't hear a single song from The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond. I was disappointed. But honestly, the songs are so good, they may have detracted from the movie itself. So I guess we'll all just have to buy the album.
Overall, the movie was a great adaptation of a better book. I'm just naturally critical. Because a lot of the book was composed of Katniss' innermost thoughts, the producers and director did an incredible job of articulating those thoughts in more tangible ways.
Happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor. (In my best Effie Trinket voice).