The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes sings out of tune

Tue. November 14, 2023 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes doesn't sing or slither like it should.

For those living under a rock, The Hunger Games is a story set in the future where people battle publicly to the death in an arena. The original novels by Suzanne Collins were made into very successful films, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, split into two parts.

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is set 64 years before the first novel and follows the journey of Coriolanus Snow who mentors a new competitor named Lucy Gray Baird to make money for his education.

Ballad is a big-budget, beautifully shot film with some outstanding costumes. The script is the problem. The concept seems written by a fifth grader and by the end, even the most loyal of fans will be ready to leave the theater as quickly as possible. The exhaustive and unnecessary running time of 157 minutes has the storyline separated by chapters similar to the author's previous endeavors. Chapter three could have been told in five minutes but is instead dragged out to a bitter end. Many of the final plot points are so predictable that somehow this snake moves even slower.

Across the board, the cast doesn't seem inspired. West Side Story's Rachel Ziegler is playing a one-note doe-eyed hillbilly named Lucy Gray Baird with an accent that fades in and out.

Trans actress Hunter Schafer who is unforgettable in the television show Euphoria isn't given much to do but sit on the sidelines as Tigris Snow.

Jason Schwartzman wants to channel Stanley Tucci but emulating this cartoon character never is funny enough to inject the much-needed humor that this Ballad needs.

Viola Davis and Peter Dinklage are both there for a paycheck, although Davis has some fabulous costumes. Her makeup and stink eye don't add to the character coming off as fake as those snakes. Davis herself is not a fake person and she displayed that from the premiere's red carpet that was beamed in and a silly question was asked.

The Harry Potter book series is the only franchise to compete on the same level as The Hunger Games. The fans are the ones who are caught in the crossbowfire as the creative teams make prequels and struggle for ideas on how to cash in on the material.

While some diehards continue to hunger for more, others are looking for sustenance elsewhere.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes slinks into theaters November 17, 2023.