The Hunger Games - The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes Movie Review: In The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, Peter Dinklage's character enters the scene with a drink, reminiscent of Game of Thrones. Viola Davis embodies a character who revels in control, coercing people to act against their morals, akin to the manipulative elements in Suicide Squad movies. Rachel Zegler portrays a songbird whose melodious voice elevates poignant moments in the film, entwined in a forbidden love story reminiscent of the star-crossed lovers in West Side Story. Additionally, in this prequel, we encounter a villain's origin story that echoes the complexities of Anakin Skywalker. The antagonist is shadowed by a prophesied legacy, drawing him toward the dark side, fueled further by a doomed romance that propels his descent. The Hunger Games–The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes Review: Early Reactions Call Rachel Zegler, Tom Blyth-Starrer a ‘Magnificent Movie’.

Familiar elements entwine in this Hunger Games prequel, crafting an engaging saga that, in my opinion, surpasses nearly two-thirds of the original trilogy. Suzanne Collins' prequel book sets the stage for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, delving into the youthful Coriolanus Snow and the origins of the infamous Hunger Games. Previously played effectively by veteran Donald Sutherland, the character now finds portrayal in the hands of Tom Blyth, known for his role in Billy The Kid.

A Still From The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Hailing from a once-influential Panem Capitol family, the young Coriolanus, barely out of his teens, joins the initial group of 'mentors' responsible for training the unfortunate 'tributes' selected from various districts for the tenth Edition of the Hunger Games. Dr Volumnia Gaul (played by Viola Davis), the present game-maker, strives to perpetuate these games despite waning interest.

Lucy Grey Baird (portrayed by Rachel Zegler), the tribute Coriolanus mentors, hails from District 12, the future arena of Katniss Everdeen, even though Katniss is not yet born during these events. A nomadic singer, Lucy's unpredictable behavior and powerful voice make her an enigma not only for Coriolanus but also for the Hunger Games audience. Coriolanus must prove himself as the best mentor to secure a prize and salvage his family from financial ruin while also safeguarding Lucy, entwining personal and professional stakes.

Watch the Trailer of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes:

The first film's allure lay in Jennifer Lawrence's compelling protagonist and the dynamics of the titular Hunger Games. However, the subsequent two films, although rich in characters and political commentary, lacked the essence that made the first movie impactful, despite Lawrence's strong performance. With the prequel, the storyline strips down elements to focus on the Games' core, still devoid of the grandeur seen later, rendering them raw and intense, accompanied by a love story that resonates more deeply. As much as I admired Katniss, her love triangle across three films involving Peeta and Gale fell flat. Rachel Zegler Reveals She Bonded With Jennifer Lawrence on the Sets of The Hunger Games–The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.

A Still From The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

In this narrative, the attraction between Coriolanus and Lucy feels more authentic. Coriolanus, with a white saviour complex blended with an ambition not yet ruthless, is drawn to Lucy, an alluring rebel who isn't a conventional fighter. The chemistry between Blyth and Zegler is remarkable, their performances shining in this gloomy atmospheric setting that complements the story's mood. The narrative is enhanced by impressive cinematography and a haunting score, featuring powerful moments like Lucy's introduction and a tribute's gesture honouring fallen competitors. The supporting cast, including Peter Dinklage, Viola Davis, and Jason Schwartzman, delivers notable performances, enriching the storytelling.

A Still From The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is divided into three parts, with the first two focusing on Snow's mentorship, his encounter with Lucy, and the brutal Games. However, it's the third part that stands out, going beyond the games and delving deeper into the love story, personal conflicts, and betrayal. While this section is quite challenging as a narrative catering to its audience, it is also where the movie finds its wobbling. The pacing suffers, rushing through crucial developments, notably Snow's betrayals that feel hurried. The ambiguous fate of a certain main character also left me with mixed feelings. I know it is honest to the nature of the novel, but the exit felt confounding.

Final Thoughts

Despite pacing hiccups and a wobbling third act, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes shines in its portrayal of a gripping love story and the intricate web of motivations that shape its characters. In fact, narrative-wise and in its impact of its character-driven arcs, I would rate The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes better than the original trilogy, aided by mesmerising performances from Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler.


(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Nov 13, 2023 02:24 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website