The Hunger Games : The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

November 16, 202340/1006 min
Starring
Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer, Tom Blyth
Written by
Michael Lessile and Michael Arndt ( screenplay by). Suzanne Collins ( based on the novel by)
Directed by
Francis Lawrence
Run Time
2h 45min
Release Date
November 17th, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

When it comes to film series, we’ve had a pretty good run over the last twenty years or so. We’ve had the Harry Potter series, Star Wars, Marvel, and The Hunger Games, all with a sizable fandom. For studios, the goal is always to feed that fandom, and the only way to do that is to bring out something new. This has worked out with varying degrees, with most of the new content attracting new fans but not necessarily pleasing the old ones. Now, The Hunger Games hopes to succeed where others have not, but for me, it continues the trend that has become the new normal.

In this story, Katniss is not even a thought but instead a name that represents a certain flower near one of the districts. It’s time for the tenth Hunger Games, and with dwindling interest, the powers-that-be have decided to inject something new into the games. This new element is the use of mentors, and one of those mentors is Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), who will one day become a not-so-good leader. Today, though, he is just a guy trying to regain his family’s prestige, and he has been given Lucy Gray (Rachel Zegler) as his tribute. Snow seems to take a liking to Lucy right away and gives her food to help her out before the games start. When the games do start, he gives her a little help, but you soon start to question if he is helping her or himself. Written by Michael Lesslie and Michael Arndt from Suzanne Collins’s book of the same name, Songbirds & Snakes has echoes of the things fans loved about the original trilogy but lacks the magic it had. With a runtime of just over two and a half hours, you would think very little would be neglected, but that is not the case.

We are given very little in the way of characters outside Snow and Gray as at times even they don’t have much to do. Despite the impressive supporting cast of Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, and Viola Davis, only the latter leaves any impression on you. It’s not just the characters, though, that lack energy; it is also the surrounding storylines. I think the level of enjoyment of Songbirds & Snakes will depend on your knowledge of all the little things from The Hunger Games world. For those like me, with little or no knowledge, the foundation being laid out in front of you doesn’t hold as much weight.

For me, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is a lesson in mediocrity and overstays its welcome with its overlong runtime. While I did enjoy Blyth’s performance as he battles his moral dilemmas, he and Davis are the only two acting roles this thing has going for it. Zegler does get to show off her amazing singing voice, but her accent choice leaves you wishing she didn’t make that decision. There are a couple of decent action scenes, and I do prefer these games to the others, as it is confined to one location, but neither of those facts lifted this movie out of just being ‘okay’. As a non-fan of this series, Songbirds & Snakes didn’t do anything for me, but I hope you Hunger Games fans out there enjoy it. Since they will probably make more wether we like it or not.

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