Before I begin, let me make one thing clear: I have never read the books. I understand that there is a lot of hoopla over how accurate/inaccurate this film was compared to the novel. I have no such source of reference and make my observations solely on what I saw on-screen.
How much more predictable can an ending be? I had this film figured out the second I learned who the tributes were.
So, having figured out what was going to happen long before the climax, my attention became very focused on the little things. I have to say, I was pretty darned impressed with the production design on this film. I can only imagine how much fun the wardrobe department had when coming up with formal attire for the residents of the Capital City.
The acting was believable, even if the story was predictable. I did like the variety of the characters, and I was certainly rooting for some of them to drop like flies once the game began. To be honest, I was a little surprised by how brutal the game was, given the PG rating. (Maybe I'm just used to hearing the ratings board chopping block stories from films that didn't have a major studio backing them.)
I can certainly see why there was a lot of yammering about how The Hunger Games could easily be compared to Battle Royale, and if it weren't for the former dedicating well over an hour into character development before the starting gun, I would have agreed. But I find that it would be like comparing the two versions of Halloween... one is more character-based while the other is far more action-driven. it's really not fair to try to put them on the same playing field.
Would I watch it again? Probably not, although I did think about it. It just runs a little too long for my taste... by say, an hour or so. I believe they were trying to cram too much detail from the book into the film, and so it did get tedious for a while. It shouldn't take 70 minutes to establish that the lead character is a good shot with less than admirable social charm.
Would I recommend it? Sure. It is a visually beautiful film, however predictable. The game itself is suspenseful when it finally plays out, and it's really not a bad story. Of course, you might disagree if you've actually read the book.
Film information: The Hunger Games