top of page
Search

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (2023)

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

When the capitol decides to shake things up for the tenth annual Hunger Games, future president Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) takes the stage as the mentor of District 12 tribute, Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler). Together they must determine what is most important and whether or not the Hunger Games should go on. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is emotionally charged from start to finish, and Coriolanus and Lucy Gray are in the spotlight.


The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is the film adaptation of the novel of the same name. According to reports (of which I can neither confirm nor deny–as I haven’t read the book) this film is a faithful adaptation. With that being said, it appears that Writer Suzanne Collins picked up right where she left off, developing a narrative that is riveting, creating compelling characters that run the gamut of emotion and effectively appeal to viewers along the way. That’s the best part of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, the story. From the opening moments of the film I was floored by the narrative, by the series of stories being told throughout the course of the film–and while the screenplay was written by Michael Lesslie and Michael Arndt, it’s Collins’ novel that is the heart and soul of this film.


I was skeptical going into this film, worried that this prequel wouldn’t be able to live up to the success of the The Hunger Games trilogy(ish) that came before. My fears were unwarranted, and the fact of the matter is that The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is just as good as those films that preceded it. This film, however, may be even more mature than the others, dealing with similar themes, but bolstering them and making them more accessible and relevant.


The character development competes with the story for the most impressive aspect of the entire film, and with that I was able to become invested in those characters–particularly Coriolanus. The combination of Collins, Lesslie, and Arndt create a multidimensional character that continues to evolve throughout the course of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. Viewers are never entirely sure of what he will do next, but nothing ever feels forced or unnatural. Rather, his every move feels warranted and welcome–regardless of his motivation or the result of those actions. One of my biggest concerns was how Coriolanus would develop from a potential protagonist to the harsh, jaded man played by Donald Sutherland in the previous film franchise. The potential holes are quickly addressed, and all that I could have hoped to come from the important character ultimately comes to be.


When I saw the runtime of nearly two-and-a-half hours, I was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough content to fill the entirety of the film (I know, I know–I sound like a negative nancy). Regardless of my beliefs going into The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, however, it doesn’t feel like it’s this long, as every second of the film is full of riveting content that helps to propel the film forward at the best possible rate. Broken up into three distinct sections, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes brilliantly moves along, and the film thrives in each of those parts of the film.


I honestly feel that my biggest issue with The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is the use of CGI (computer generated images). I don’t believe that this film can come to life without using CGI, but the reality is that there are moments when the use of CGI is so apparent that the film feels hyperreal, separate from the world in which we live. While the film certainly doesn’t exist within the confines of our world, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes should be able to mirror our world and create a connection with viewers. Emotionally I was invested, and just about every other aspect of the film brilliantly pulls viewers in, but the CGI creates a separation, a disconnect really. Time and time again I spotted something that appeared out of place, and time and time again I was frustrated with the set design as a result of the CGI.


The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes thrives as a result of its characters and its story. Moving forward at just the right pace and creating multidimensional characters (particularly with Coriolanus), viewers are able to connect with the film in a multitude of ways. What I believed would pale in comparison to the films of the franchise that came before manages to be just as good as a whole, and even better in some respects. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is a pleasant surprise, and one of the more fun experiences that I’ve had in a movie theater in recent memory.


Directed by Francis Lawrence.


Written by Michael Lesslie, Michael Arndt, & Suzanne Collins.


Starring Tom Blyth, Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer, Jason Schwartzman, Josh Andrés Rivera, Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, etc.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐½/10


0 comments

Comments


bottom of page