The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & SnakesThe Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Year: 2023
Rating: PG-13
Length: 157 minutes / 2.61 hours

I think it’s hard to appreciate how The Hunger Games movies did a decent job of adapting the source material for the big screen while not evolving into a behemoth of a franchise. That Suzanne Collins made it clear that there was only the three books, and she didn’t want to do anything else until she was ready was a welcome change from an entertainment industry that likes to squeeze as much money out of popular things as fast as possible. With this in mind, I can applaud The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (2023) for being respectful of the original trilogy while also trying to expand the narrative in prequel form.

While not a completely necessary prequel, it was still interesting to see how early versions of the Hunger Games were run. Of course, our knowledge of how they eventually evolve into something worse is only staved off by seeing just how Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) “lives long enough to become the villain.” Having not read this book yet, the over 2.5-hour length of this movie felt a bit much a times as they tried to cram everything into it.

Still, through an ironic twist of fate, movies about the Hunger Games are still entertaining for the same reasons the Hunger Games are entertaining. These characters are bizarre, but interesting. Rachel Zegler was the best choice for the role of Lucy Gray, which should come as no surprise for anyone who saw West Side Story (2021). Even the famous actors (like Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, and Jason Schwartzman) add the gravitas needed to make The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes not just another prequel cash grab.

The Hunger Games prequel that deserved to be made, I give The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes 4.0 stars out of 5.

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