The Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: Mark Kermode’s movie review (video).

Our man of many movies, Mark Kermode, sits down to review The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, the movie that dared to ask, “What if we took a beloved dystopian franchise and sprinkled it with a bit of prequel magic?” Directed by Francis Lawrence, who, by the way, is no stranger to the Hunger Games universe, this 2023 film serves as a delightful time machine taking us back to the good old days of Panem, 64 years before Katniss decided to volunteer as tribute.

So, let’s dive into the world of young Coriolanus Snow, played by Tom Blyth. Coryo, before he became the charming yet tyrannical leader we all love to hate. This movie shows him in his salad days, when he was a mentor in the 10th Hunger Games. And let me tell you, the fashion choices of young Snow? Absolute gold. He’s like a peacock in a world of pigeons. Then there’s Lucy Gray Baird, portrayed by Rachel Zegler. Lucy Gray is the District 12 tribute with a voice of an angel and the cunning of a fox. She sings, she snares, she surprises – basically, she’s the triple S threat of the Hunger Games. Her relationship with Coryo is like watching a game of chess where both players are convinced they’re the king.

The film also features Peter Dinklage as Casca Highbottom, the man with a name so grand it belongs on a bottle of expensive brandy. He plays the dean who’s got more secrets than the Capitol has wigs. And let’s not forget Hunter Schafer as Tigris Snow, Coriolanus’s cousin who knows more about survival than anyone else, and Viola Davis as Dr. Volumnia Gaul, the head gamemaker who makes Machiavelli look like a kindergarten teacher.

The plot? Oh, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions with a side of popcorn. We’ve got rebel bombs, sneaky snakes, and a sponsorship scheme that would make any reality TV show jealous. The Games themselves? They’re like a cross between a gladiator fight and a bad day at the zoo. And the finale – oh, the finale is like watching someone try to solve a Rubik’s Cube while riding a unicycle.

Critics? They had a field day. Some called it a cinematic masterpiece, others a snoozefest. Screen Rant mentioned it was “overstuffed narratively,” which is a polite way of saying there’s more going on here than in a season of soap operas. Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic threw numbers around like they were on sale, while IndieWire and USA Today praised it like it was the second coming of cinematic Christ. The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is like that one relative at family gatherings – you’re not sure if you love them or if they just make things more interesting. It’s a trip down memory lane where the memories are part musical, part Hunger Games, and all parts bizarre. And if you’re wondering whether it’s worth the watch, let’s just say it’s like eating a mystery-flavored jelly bean – you won’t know if you’ll get peach or barf, but it’s worth the risk.


Colonel Frog is a long time science fiction and fantasy fan. He loves reading novels in the field, and he also enjoys watching movies (as well as reading lots of other genre books).

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