Movie Review: The Hunger Games: The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes

Review by: Kendall Davis

Director: Francis Lawrence

Rating: 3/5

The Hunger Games series has revolutionized the young adult genre since its first book in 2008. 11 years after the first movie’s release, based on the prequel book of the same name, The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes has been released. It details the backstory of the series’ main villain, President Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) as his life intertwines with that of the tribute he is mentoring for the tenth Hunger Games, the vivacious Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler).

Blyth’s dynamic acting perfectly encompassed the multifaceted character of Snow. Blyth believably portrayed chemistry with his co-star Rachel Zegler, creating moments of romance the original Hunger Games trilogy is so well known for. On the other hand, Blyth skillfully captured Snow’s descent into madness in the movie’s climax.

To contrast the character of Snow, Zegler’s performance as Lucy Gray carried the majority of the movie, as scenes not featuring Zegler often dragged or felt lacking in personality. Also notable was Zegler’s Appalachian accent and singing style which successfully rooted District 12 in Appalachian culture. The movie’s visualization of the districts before the events of the main trilogy was an electrifying blend of historical and dystopian aesthetics, making for a visually astounding film overall.

Without the spectacle created by the Capitol, The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes’ atmosphere felt much darker than that of the original movies. Providing interesting context to the original trilogy, the ominous undertones truly cemented the solemnity of the games.

Despite all this, the feat of translating such a detailed book into a movie is a difficult one. The book’s whopping 747 pages guarantee that details will be left out, but the sheer amount of differences leaves audience members who are unfamiliar with the book feeling confused at times. The length of the book also contributed to some pacing difficulties. The three segments of the movie felt unbalanced and very rapid in some points, but dull in others.

Regardless of any errors, The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes was a triumphant return to a beloved franchise. The film opened the door to potential future Hunger Games movies, but for now, it serves as an engrossing invitation to delve back into the series.