The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird and Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Photo Credit: Murray Close.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the newest addition to The Hunger Games franchise and the film is dreadfully long.

The film runs just over two and a half hours, which means sitting nearly three hours in a theater when one factors in trailers. Does such a film need to be this long? Hardly. By the time the film went beyond the 2 hour mark, I was beginning to feel my bladder again. They could have easily trimmed the story down by a good 10-15 minutes. Cut a few things out here and there.

Unlike the original franchise, I did not read the new book, which takes place 64 years before the initial film. It’s an interesting choice to once again focus on a District 12 tribute. In a way, it serves as an origin story to some of what we see in the original films. And at times, not. Following an all-too-brief prologue, we find Panem preparing for the 10th annual Hunger Games. It’s here where Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) is the last hope for family redemption. There are new changes going into the games so the winning mentor doesn’t win a huge prize. Snow is so desperate for the prize money and it shows. In any event, he draws District 12’s female tribute, Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), and it’s an uphill climb from the start.

Much of the formula is the same–where does this film’s love story go is something that brings up more questions. There are some changes from the original franchise formula but the film thematically connects to them. I do not know right now if Suzanne Collins is going to write a trilogy of books, mostly because I’ve stayed away from interviews going into the film. What I will say is that I think I’ve seen enough of Coriolanus Snow to know why he is such a tyrannical president over sixty years later. Plus, do we really need another dystopian film where children kill other children as a way of punishing the districts for rising up against the Capitol?

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place 64 years earlier but offers more of the same, for better or worse.

DIRECTOR: Francis Lawrence
SCREENWRITERS: Michael Lesslie and Michael Arndt
CAST: Tom Blyth, Rachel Zegler, Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, Hunter Schafer, Josh Andrés Rivera, and Viola Davis

Lionsgate will release The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes in theaters on November 17, 2023. Grade: 2.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.