Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.”
The big picture
- The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes tells an ambitious story in a relatively short space of time and successfully explores the early life of Coriolanus Snow.
- Despite being the longest film in the series, the film does not have enough time to develop its large cast of characters, leaving some intriguing characters underdeveloped.
- The pace of the film is somewhat uneven, with the second act being the strongest and most exciting, while the third act feels less exciting and feels more like an epilogue. Overall, the story would have benefited from being adapted as a television show.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes tells an ambitious story about a complex character, a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), in the world of The hunger Games, but perhaps it’s a story that would have been better suited to a television format. That’s not to say The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a lousy film that needs a drastic restructuring. Far from it, eh The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a great film. However, it could have been an even better television show that delved deeper into the story of the prequel.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows a young Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) – the last hope for the once proud Snow family – who is reluctantly assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), a tribute from the impoverished District 12 for the 10th Hunger Games. Snow embarks on a race against time to survive and find out whether he will become a songbird or a snake.
- Release date
- November 17, 2023
- Francis Lawrence
- Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer, Viola Davis, Tom Blyth, Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, Burn Gorman, Fionnula Flanagan
- 165 minutes
- Science fiction, drama, thriller
- Michael Lesslie, Michael Arndt, Suzanne Collins
- Production company
- Color Force, Good Universe, Lionsgate
“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” accomplishes a lot in a relatively short amount of time
The prequel deserves credit where credit is due The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes accomplishes a lot in a relatively short period of time. The epic tale still follows a classic three-act structure with a running time of two hours and 37 minutes. This makes it the longest film in the franchise’s history. The three-chapter story is powerful, chronicling three key events in Coriolanus Snow’s early life before he becomes Panem’s deadly leader and takes on Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence).
The first chapter of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes sees young Coriolanus as a student on the verge of winning a life-changing cash prize that can only be achieved by turning an unwilling participant in the titular Hunger Games into a veritable spectacle. Assigned to Coriolanus is a young singer from District 12 named Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), and although he desperately wants the prize, he also develops feelings for Lucy Gray. The second chapter introduces the main event: the 10th Annual Hunger Games. Ultimately, Lucy Gray has the upper hand, albeit partly through the deceptive intervention of Coriolanus. This deception does not go unnoticed by Coriolanus’ rival superior, Dean Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage), who sends the young man to District 12 as a peacekeeper. Coriolanus meets Lucy Gray again in the third chapter, but their happy reunion ends in tragedy.
The biggest problem with The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the pacing
The story in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is well told. And in the midst of mediocre villain stories like Maleficent And CruellaThe film skillfully shows how the young Coriolanus became the repulsive President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in the original series. However, one of the biggest problems is the pacing, especially in the third act. The first act does a good job of establishing what Coriolanus wants and needs and what his motivations are. The second act, which focuses primarily on the titular game, is by far the strongest part of the film, offering a captivating and original take on the infamous gladiator fights. However, the exhilarating rush presented in the second act is something of a double-edged sword, as it makes the remainder of the film seem somewhat disappointing.
The third act, which details the inevitable deterioration of the relationship between Coriolanus and Lucy Gray, is an important and central part of the protagonist’s journey. It’s not even poorly executed, but it’s just not nearly as exciting or suspenseful as the act before it. So this whole sequence feels less like a third act and more like an epilogue. If the plot and characters had had a little more breathing room, perhaps this necessary conclusion would have had more weight and urgency.
“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” doesn’t have enough time to develop compelling characters
Even though it is the longest film in the history of the franchise, there is still almost enough time for it The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes developing its huge cast of characters. The most important character to focus on is undoubtedly Coriolanus, and he always feels like he’s the center of attention. However, some of these characters are so fascinating and different from the characters we have seen before, but it is not feasible to develop them thoroughly in a feature film period.
The characters that should receive far more attention are the tributes chosen for The Hunger Games. The film admittedly does a great job of portraying these characters’ personalities in a subtle and visual way, but their implied stories sound too interesting to ignore. For example, Reaper (Dimitri Abold) is initially portrayed as a callous murderer, but his empathy for the sickly Dill (Luna church towers) and the rest of the fallen tributes are presented in the games. There’s also Lucy Gray’s companion Jessup (Nick Benson), who we don’t learn much about except that he loved Lucy Gray so much that he protected her from rabid bats. Even the main antagonist of the second act, Coral (Mackenzie Lansing), appears to be more than a heartless murderer, as she shows true fear and grief in her final moments.
The characters in Coriolanus’ life could also have used more attention. His family members in the Capitol, Tigris (Hunter Shepherd) and Grandma’am (Fionnula Flanagan), get surprisingly little screen time, so we don’t learn much about them. The film tells us that Sejanus Plinth (Josh Andres Rivera) and Coriolanus are close friends, but they don’t interact with each other nearly enough to warrant such a bond. Finally, the revelation that Dean Casca Highbottom is deeply persecuted as the creator of the Hunger Games (with Coriolanus’ father being a direct cause of this) is so fascinating that it would even be worthy of its own TV episode with flashbacks to the younger Highbottom.
“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” would have played better on television
That’s why The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes would have been better suited to a television release than a feature film. Of course, the most prominent argument for the prequel being a TV show is its impressive box office performance so far The wonders for first place. However, there are so many interesting characters to discover and fascinating stories to tell that go beyond the (admittedly) very interesting backstory of Coriolanus Snow. The fears of splitting the film into two parts are understandable, especially considering there was already a necessary two-parter in this franchise The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. In the case of the prequel, there was a lot of potential here that the film didn’t even manage to exploit.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is now in the cinema. The hunger Games Movies can be streamed on Peacock.