Confession up front. I haven't read the novel by Suzanne Collins, and indeed had never heard of this series of books until the advance publicity for the film started surfacing. I like science fiction, I like fantasy, and after reading the reviews I decided this was one to see on a large screen, although having seen it I think it will also be effective as a DVD to watch on my laptop some time down the line.
I found the film to be quite entertaining, and I was totally blown away by Jennifer Lawrence's performance in the lead role. Woody Harrelson is another highlight for me. He is just excellent in every film, as he disappears right into the role. It hadn't registered with me in advance that he was in this, and it wasn't until towards the end that I figured out it was Harrelson playing the "mentor" to the District 12 kids. (The wig certainly had me fooled.) Donald Sutherland seems to pop up in so many different movies these days – just brief roles, but very effective, and true to form in this one.
Gary Ross's direction of this big ensemble is superb, and novelist Collins led a team of script-writers in what most reviews I've seen have described as a very faithful adaptation of her novel, ending with a set-up for sequels. I'd go to them. I can understand why this has hit big with movie-goers. For once we are getting a chronological story with interesting characters who really come to mean something to the viewers by the end, and the entire thing is also a delightful spoof of the "reality television" trend. I could wish it were in 3D, but on a normal big screen it was fine. The only major complaint I've seen registered is with the hand-held camera that results in some jerkiness from time to time in the visuals, but I adjusted to that pretty quickly and didn't even notice it after a while.
So I would highly recommend this one.