Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
- The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes tells an ambitious story in a relatively short period of time, successfully exploring the early life of Coriolanus Snow.
- Despite being the longest film in the franchise, it doesn’t have enough time to develop many characters, leaving some interesting characters underdeveloped.
- The film’s pacing is a bit uneven, with the second act being the strongest and most exciting, but the third act being less exciting and more of an epilogue. Overall, the story would benefit from being adapted as a TV show.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes tells the ambitious story of a complex figure, young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), in the world The Hunger Games, but perhaps this story would be better suited to the television format. This doesn’t mean that The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes it’s a lousy film in need of a radical restructuring. Far from it The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes a great movie. However, it could have been an even better TV 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 young Coriolanus (Tom Blyth)—the last hope of the once-proud Snow family—who is reluctantly assigned as mentor to Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), a nod from impoverished District 12 for the 10th Hunger Games. Snow sets out on a race against time to survive and find out whether he will become a songbird or a snake.
- Date of issue
- November 17, 2023
- Francis Lawrence
- Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer, Viola Davis, Tom Blyth, Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, Burn Gorman, Fionnula Flanagan
- lead time
- 165 minutes
- Sci-Fi, Drama, Thriller
- Michael Lesslie, Michael Arndt, Suzanne Collins
- Manufacturing company
- Color Power, The Good Universe, Lionsgate
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes has achieved a lot in a relatively short period.
The prequel deserves credit where it’s due because The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes allows you to achieve great results in a relatively short period of time. The epic story still follows the classic three-act structure, clocking in at two hours and 37 minutes. This makes it the longest film in the history of the franchise. In a three-chapter story, it fits in pretty decently, depicting three important events in the early life of Coriolanus Snow before he becomes the deadly leader of Panem, fighting against Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence).
First chapter The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes sees young Coriolanus as a student about to earn a life-changing cash prize, which can only be obtained by turning an unwitting participant in the titular Hunger Games into a real spectacle. Coriolanus is assigned a young singer from District 12 named Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), and although he really wants the prize, he also begins to develop feelings for Lucy Gray. The second chapter introduces the main event: the 10th annual Hunger Games. Ultimately, Lucy Gray comes out on top, but thanks in part to the deceptive intervention of Coriolanus. This deception did not go unnoticed by Coriolanus’s rival superior, Dean Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage), who sends a young man to become a peacekeeper in the 12th district. Thus, in the third chapter, Coriolanus is reunited with Lucy Gray, but their happy reunion ends in tragedy.
The biggest problem with The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the pacing
History in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes well said. And against the backdrop of so-so stories about villains like Maleficent And CruellaThe film masterfully shows how young Coriolanus became the disgusting President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in the original series. However, one of its biggest problems is its pacing, especially in the third act. The first act does a good job of establishing what Coriolanus wants and needs, as well as his motivations. The second act, which mainly introduces the main game, is by far the strongest part of the film, showing a thrilling and primal look at the infamous gladiator fights. However, the thrilling thrill introduced in the second act is something of a double-edged sword, as it makes the rest of the film feel a little anticlimactic.
The third act, detailing the inevitable degradation of Coriolanus and Lucy Gray’s relationship, is a vital and key part of the protagonist’s journey. It’s not even poorly executed, but it’s nowhere near as exciting and tense as the action that preceded it. So this whole sequence feels less like a third act and more like an epilogue. If the plot and characters had been given a little more breathing room, then perhaps this necessary conclusion would have had more weight and relevance.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes doesn’t have enough time to develop compelling characters
Even though this is the longest film in the history of the franchise, it still has just about enough time. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes develop your huge cast of characters. The most important character to focus on is undoubtedly Coriolanus, and he constantly feels the center of attention. However, some of these characters are so fascinating and different from characters we’ve seen before, but developing them thoroughly over a feature-length time period is impossible.
Of course, the characters that should have received more attention are Tribute, who was chosen for The Hunger Games. Admittedly, the film does a great job of showcasing the personalities of these characters in a subtle and visual way, but their implied stories sound too interesting to ignore. For example, Reaper (Dmitry Abold) is initially depicted as an emotionless killer, but his sympathy for the sickly Dill (Luna Steeples), and the remaining fallen Tributes are showcased in games. There is also a companion, Lucy Gray Jessup (Nick Benson), about whom we know little except that he cared enough about Lucy Gray to protect her from rabid bats. Even the main antagonist of the second act, Coral (Mackenzie Lansing), appears to be more than just a heartless killer, as she shows real fear and heartache in her final moments.
The characters from the life of Coriolanus should also have been given more attention. Members of his family in the Capitol Tiger (Hunter Shafer) and grandmother (Fionnula Flanagan), get surprisingly little screen time, so we don’t learn much about them. The film tells that Sejanus Plinth (Josh Andres Rivera) and Coriolanus are close friends, but they do not interact with each other often enough to justify such a connection. Finally, the revelation that Dean Casca Highbottom is deeply haunted as the creator of the Hunger Games (with Coriolanus’ father being the direct cause) is so fascinating that it would even be worthy of its own TV episode with flashbacks to young Highbottom.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes would be better on TV
That is why The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes would have been more suitable for a television release than a feature film. Of course, the most glaring argument against the prequel becoming a TV show is the impressive box office receipts, surpassing Miracles for place number one. However, there are so many interesting characters to explore and compelling stories to tell, beyond Coriolanus Snow’s (admittedly) very interesting backstory. Concerns about splitting the film into two parts are understandable, especially considering the franchise already had the requisite two-parter with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. In the case of the prequel, there was a lot of potential here that the film didn’t even have the chance to explore.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is now in cinemas. The Hunger Games the films are available to stream on Peacock.
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