The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes revie…

Coriolanus Snow and Lucy Gray stand near a fence in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

“Though it goes on a bit long, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a satisfying prequel to a franchise that many believed was dead and gone.”


  • Performances by Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage and Jason Schwartzman

  • An entertaining, inspiring second act.

  • Francis Lawrence’s visually impressive directorial approach


  • extremely complex final third

  • Unnecessary, unsatisfying romantic subplot between its two protagonists

  • A runtime that’s about 20 minutes too long

it’s been eight years The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 was released, and a lot has changed in the intervening years. That film, which was considered at the time to be the final installment of its franchise, was the product of the dystopian YA craze that partially defined 2010s Hollywood. Nowadays, Hollywood is more reticent than it was in 2012 to try its hand at adapting popular YA book series, and most adaptations that do premiere as TV shows on streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+.

This fact hasn’t stopped Lionsgate from trying to rekindle audience interest in its once-popular YA franchise with its release. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes This week. Is there still a place for The Hunger Games in today’s world? The answer may vary from person to person, even The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Proves that the franchise’s core ideas about the ever-present threat of totalitarianism are more relevant than they once were.

The film, an adaptation of Suzanne Collins’s 2020 novel of the same name, is a prequel that focuses its attention on the series’ central villain, Coriolanus Snow, and explores how the seeds of his rule over the fictional, dystopian nation of Panem Were planted first. Directed by series veteran Francis Lawrence, the film is an overlong, often compelling dystopian drama. Over the course of its 157-minute runtime, the prequel takes its franchise to greater visual heights than ever before, but it ultimately adds little to the series’ already elaborate treatise on the devastating cost of fascism.

Dr. Gaul standing near Coriolanus Snow in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Murray Close/Lionsgate

Set approximately 60 years before the events of the original Hunger Games films, songbirds and snakes song He becomes friends with Snow (Tom Blythe), not when he was a powerful politician, but from much earlier in his life, when he was the driven, poor young head of a noble family. When the audience meets him at the beginning of the film, he is determined to reclaim the wealth and power that his family had before his father’s death during the war between the Capitol and the outlying districts of Panem. However, his mission to climb up the social ladder of his country is interrupted when he and his fellow students are told that the winner of their potentially life-changing classroom award will not be determined by their academic scores, but by Who among them can do this? My biggest take on the current batch of Hunger Games tributes.

To his surprise and initial disappointment, Snow is assigned to mentor District 12 (the same district that produced Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen), the newest female tribute, Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Ziegler). Intent on turning her into a star, Snow advises her to not only perform for the citizens of the Capitol as often as possible, but also to use her knowledge of the year’s Hunger Games arena to survive the brutal battle royale. Also advised. The more time they spend together, the more attracted they become to each other. At the same time, Snow finds herself increasingly willing and able to use the ruthless structure of Panem’s authoritarian society to her advantage.

Thus, songbirds and snakes song It’s the origin story of the Hunger Games’ greatest villain and an exploration of how easily one’s ambition can become an instrument of evil. For most of its runtime, the film succeeds at both of those things. However, as it moves into its second half, it begins to lose its grip on its story and pace, relying on some needlessly complicated twists from Collins’ original novel. The film stretches about 20 minutes long, and its screenplay, written by Michael Leslie and Michael Arndt, holds tightly to the framework set by its source material. In its final third, the film gets so lost in the complexity of its plot that the thematic weight of its climax is slightly diminished by the circuitous path it took to get there.

Casca Highbottom stands among a crowd of Capitol students in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Murray Close/Lionsgate

songbirds and snakes song This isn’t the first Hunger Games film to suffer from excessive attachment to its source material. Fortunately, like the franchise’s first four installments, which were elevated by notable supporting performances from accomplished stars like Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, the prequel is also anchored by a lively, well-cast series of older characters. Get benefit. widows And suicide squad Star Viola Davis gives a great performance as Dr. Volumnia Gaul, the Willy Wonka-esque chief organizer and gamesmaker for the Hunger Games, while Peter Dinklage steals several scenes as Casca Highbottom, the games’ enigmatic creator. , Jason Schwartzman also brings some much-needed, darkly comedic lightness to the film as Lucretius Flickerman, a meteorologist determined to turn the Hunger Games into a veritable spectacle.

In contrast, Blythe and Ziegler bring genuine charisma to their dueling performance. However, their scenes lack chemistry between the two stars, making the romantic subplot involving their characters feel even more unnecessary. In its efforts to avoid painting Blythe’s would-be dictator in an overly rosy image, the film never fully commits to their relationship one way or the other. Is he legitimately attracted to her? Or is he just using her for his own benefit? songbirds and snakes song attempts to answer those questions as vaguely as possible, but it never takes the audience deep enough into Snow’s mind for it to work. The result is a complicated story involving young, easily corrupted love that doesn’t hit as hard as the rest of the film’s more acidic moments and ideas.

Coriolanus Snow and Lucy Gray look to the sky together in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Murray Close/Lionsgate

Behind the camera, Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence and his cinematographer, Joe Willems, shot the entire songbirds and snakes song With a mix of ultrawide lenses and full-frame IMAX cameras. In doing so, the pair present each of the film’s characters as larger than life, which seems appropriate for a film that is concerned not only with the insidiousness of totalitarianism, but also with the propaganda that it generates. Does. This is the most visually stunning Hunger Games movie ever made – surpassing Lawrence catch fireHowever, it never delivers as satisfying a moment as that film’s now-iconic IMAX transition.

It protects from various defects songbirds and snakes song It had the potential to become a truly great blockbuster. It doesn’t miss the mark of greatness so wide as to be completely dismissed. In the vast scope of the Hunger Games franchise, it sits comfortably below catch fire As the second best film of the series so far. Whether or not this provides a satisfactory enough reason for its existence may be entirely up to you, but that doesn’t give anyone any excuse to be offended when it does.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Now running in theatres.

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