The Ballad Of Songbirds and Snakes movie review

Long before Katniss, there was Snow. Is the prequel worth volunteering for?

What’s it about?

More than 60 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as tribute, and decades before Coriolanus Snow became the tyrannical President of Panem. THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS & SNAKES follows a young Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) as a student struggling to keep his family afloat financially. He’s reluctantly assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), a tribute from the impoverished District 12 and his emotions clash with his pragmatic drive.

What did we think?

It’s rare that I think a movie is better than the book but the Hunger Games prequel has probably achieved that. It’s sleeker and cuts to the chase well without sacrificing the ethical questions and motivations for both the capital and the characters.

It’s entertaining, shows off shades of grey and has some good characterisation. Some very good performances – particularly from the villainous and slightly unhinged Viola Davis – underscore a melancholy story that questions what entertainment and attachment to people on-screen really means. 

Unfortunately the ending of the film – like the book – is rushed, shallow and just doesn’t quite work which takes the shine off a pretty polished and entertaining popcorn film. Hunger Games fans will lap it up.

Not a tribute
Fun and better than the book but still lacking.
Anthony has been reviewing movies for over 25 years (it may be longer now as he may have forgotten to add an extra year on). He lectures in journalism at the prestigious Queensland University of Technology and in addition to freelance writing, works with the charity Hands Across The Water. In a busy life, insomnia is his friend.
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