Movie and TV Reviews

Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes Evaluation: Grim Prequel to a Currently Dark Story

No Jennifer Lawrence here, however this thrilling prequel may make you fall for West Side Story star Rachel Zegler if you have not currently.


  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is an interesting prequel to The Appetite Games franchise with a stacked cast and a memorable soundtrack.
  • Tom Blyth provides a standout efficiency as young Coriolanus Snow, and the shaved head contributes to his character’s advancement.
  • The movie includes outstanding efficiencies from Viola Davis and Peter Dinklage, however might have gained from more screen time for these skilled stars.

As a fan of the books and very first number of films, I was delighted to review The Hunger Games franchise with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, particularly after finding out that Oscar-winning film writer Michael Arndt ( Igniting, Little Miss Sunlight, Toy Story 3) was back to aid with the script. And it reveals, though absolutely nothing beats the very first Jennifer Lawrence installations. The web is currently aflame with reactions to the prequel detailing the notorious bad guy Snow’s increase to power. Including a stacked cast and soundtrack with songs from Olivia Rodrigo and more, returning franchise director Francis Lawrence’s brand-new prequel is absolutely something for devoted fans and possibly even those merely trying to find an intro to see what the franchise has to do with. And at a massive 165 minutes, it will absolutely bring you into its world.

The Appetite Games Before Katniss

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Release Date
November 17, 2023

Francis Lawrence

Hunter Schafer, Peter Dinklage, Viola Davis, Rachel Zegler, Jason Schwartzman

Main Category

64 years before Katniss Everdeen offered for the Games on behalf of her lowly district, there was young Coriolanus Snow, later on considered the king, and had fun with supreme conniving sleaze by Oscar winner Donald Sutherland in the well-known 2012 movie. In the current installation, the more youthful variation is played by Tom Blyth ( Billy the Kid), whose efficiency improves as the movie advances. Perhaps it’s the shaved head that assists. You’ll see.

Snow is the last hope for his down-and-out household that has actually fallen from grace in the post-war Capitol. He plays the part at school of a fortunate youth who will simply pay university tuition if he does not win the scholarship cash and the chances “aren’t ever in his favor.” The daunting Dean Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage), nevertheless, sees right through Snow’s makeshift attire as he reveals brand-new guidelines on how to win the leading reward: Each trainee, Snow consisted of, will be designated a homage from any among the districts and need to train them to eliminate the others to the death. The dean is an atrocious character that Dinklage ( Video Game of Thrones) can play in his sleep, however why not? He’s dependably excellent; if just this 165-minute movie included more of him …

Ecstasy breakout star Hunter Schafer likewise does not appear much here, despite the fact that she’s third-billed amongst the primary cast. She plays Snow’s cousin back home, who sometimes FaceTimes to see how he’s doing. That has to do with it, however, however I wager she’ll get plenty more screen time if a follow up (to this prequel) pertains to fulfillment.

Get In Viola Davis and Rachel Zegler

Another cakewalk-type efficiency here is EGOT winner Viola Davis, sinking her teeth with ease into the terrifyingly sexy function of Dr. Volumnia Gaul, a head honcho together with the dean to supervise this brand-new sort of Appetite Games competition. Simply checking out her eyes– among which is a glossed-over light blue shade– will send out chills down your spinal column. Enjoy, for instance, as she terrifies Snow’s troublemaking schoolmate buddy Clemensia Dovecote (Ashley Liao) in the school’s science laboratory filled with wriggling snakes that can easily remember your aroma. This nail-biting series is simply one emphasize that assists keep the exceptionally long movie moving. Is three hours the new norm for Hollywood hits? Ideally not.

Related: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Cast: Other Roles You’ve Seen the Actors Play

However back to the competition, which has actually tossed the covertly impoverished Snow for a loop. Will he still have the ability to win the gold and go into college on a complete trip, considered that the scenarios have significantly altered? Get In Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) from District 12, however do not let the impoverished nature of her neighborhood fool you. Lucy Gray is captivating, courageous, and strong, and it’s a function the West Side Story starlet was born to play. You’ll fall for her all over once again– and she sings! No, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes does not end up being a musical, however her tunes are memorable sufficient and will undoubtedly be widely valued amongst fans.

Could Songbirds and Snakes Have Been 2 Parts?

Rachel Zegler in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023)

In Lucy Gray’s different skills, Snow sees star power and a chance to win over the crowds. He motivates her to utilize her fury to sustain the drive to vanquish the others. That, naturally, suggests making it through and possibly even eliminating in the competitors, such as the difficult existence that is Coral (Mackenzie Lansing, likewise a handful in HBO’s Mare of Easttown). As they fight to the death, the competition is naturally telecasted, and here comes a dash of comic relief– provided to excellence by the television host played by Jason Schwartzman ( Asteroid City). To ruin any of his laugh-out-loud one-liners here would be a criminal offense. You simply need to experience his personality firsthand in the theater. His ambiance is infectious.

Related: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: Why The Hunger Games Prequel Is Actually a Good Idea

This all transpires simply in the very first half of the movie, with Snow eventually taking a trip to a completely brand-new district after the competition to find the love of his life. He takes a task as a guard together with schoolmate Sejanus Plinth (Josh Andrés Rivera, reuniting with Zegler after West Side Story). Rivera is a star in the making, providing a layered efficiency here as an abundant kid who declines to be ruined and rather wishes to assist those less lucky. If that suggests taking extreme steps, then so be it, and Snow exists to attempt and keep him in check. It’s the 2nd half of the movie where Blyth’s efficiency sparkles a bit more. In truth, there’s a bargain of stylistic and narrative distinction in between the very first and 2nd halves here, and with the length of this Appetite Games prequel, one questions if splitting the movie into 2 would have been more effective.

Compared to the gritty portable camerawork that assisted make the very first Appetite Games motion picture such a success– even for those who weren’t even well-informed of the franchise in the very first location– The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes a more suppressed technique to visual design, howeverthe world-building is first-rate As earlier discussed, it would not be unexpected if a follow-up is quickly greenlit, though that might wind up depending upon author Suzanne Collins’ prepare for the future ofher Hunger Games universe In the meantime, while The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes does not precisely determine up to those very first number of movies from a years back, it needs to experience industrial success at package workplace and a moderate quantity of vital honor. The star power of Zegler, Dinklage, Davis, and Schwartzman definitely assists.

From Lionsgate, The Appetite Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & & Snakes will remain in theaters November 17. You can see the trailer listed below:


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