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MOVIE REVIEW: "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes"

Posted at 12:49 PM, Nov 17, 2023

Now comes the origin story of Coriolanus Snow" who mentors -- and falls for -- the Tribute from District 12 during the 10th Hunger Games in... "The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes."

Although officially billed as everything from an Action/Adventure to a War Drama, it's also a bit of a Musical (it is a Ballad after all, right)?
But when you have Rachel Zegler from "West Side Story" in it, you're gonna let her sing! A lot. But the real drinking game is to take a shot every time someone says her character's full name of Lucy Gray in this three-part, 2 hour and 37 minute, surprisingly violent for a PG-13 flick, although much of it is implied violence and not necessarily shown; but still pretty strong, warts and all.

Sure, Tom Blyth's "Coriolanus Snow" and Zegler's "Lucy Gray" speak of hooking up practically in their first chance meeting, and the logic behind the Games is ironically dissected by Viola Davis' "Dr. Volumnia Gaul" early on, but largely the film is strong in its first two Parts, interestingly setting up much of what we know will come to be by the time Katniss shows up in the 74th annual Hunger Games.

But then comes Part Three which is rushed & oddly cut, undermining much of what came before. Our young lovers are suddenly on the outs, District 12 is actually hiding a secret paradise that no one moves to, and characters are dispatched without much of a reason why. Even without being a fan, "Ballads had me watching with interest during its first two hours, but then it had me shaking my head for its last 37 minutes. Viola Davis and Jason Schwartzman are highlights throughout, though.

But those first two hours may outweigh its disjointed ending. I guess we'll see if there will be other prequels considering two more are planned but not green-lit as the Hunger Games becomes the Waiting Game to see how people respond to this one. But Metacritics are so far not as pleased as I was, and even I didn't love it, but I was surprised by its for at least it's first two hours.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Release Date: Nov 17, 2023

MPAA: PG-13

Running Time: 2 hr 37 min

Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller, War