Rent The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023)

3.2 of 5 from 121 ratings
2h 31min
Rent The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (aka The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes) Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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  • Available formats
Synopsis:
In this prequel to 'The Hunger Games', a young Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) is the last hope for the once-proud Snow family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. Snow reluctantly takes an assignment to mentor Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), a tribute from the impoverished District 12. But after Lucy Gray's charm captivates Panem's audience, Snow unites with Lucy Gray to turn the odds in their favour. Battling his instincts for both good and evil, Snow races against time to survive and reveals if he will ultimately become a songbird or a snake.
Actors:
, , , , Rosa Gotzler, , , , , , Joshua Kantara, , , Florian Burgkart, , Aaron Finn Schultz, , , , Yalany Marschner
Directors:
Producers:
Nina Jacobson, Francis Lawrence, Brad Simpson
Writers:
Michael Lesslie, Michael Arndt, Suzanne Collins
Aka:
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Studio:
Lionsgate Films
Genres:
Action & Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Thrillers
Collections:
10 Films to Watch if You Like: Elf, Films to Watch If You Like...
BBFC:
Release Date:
26/02/2024
Run Time:
151 minutes
Languages:
English Audio Description, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.39:1
Colour:
Colour
Bonus:
  • Audio Commentary with Producer-Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson
  • "The Hanging Tree" Song by Rachel Zegler
  • A Letter to the Fans
  • Welcome Back to Panem
  • The Music of 'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'
  • The Costumes of 'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'
  • The Casting of 'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'
BBFC:
Release Date:
26/02/2024
Run Time:
157 minutes
Languages:
English Audio Description, English Dolby Atmos, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing, French, Spanish
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.39:1
Colour:
Colour
BLU-RAY Regions:
B
Bonus:
  • Audio Commentary with Producer-Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson
  • "Predator or Prey: Making The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" 8-Part Documentary
  • "The Hanging Tree" Song by Rachel Zegler
  • A Letter to the Fans
BBFC:
Release Date:
26/02/2024
Run Time:
157 minutes
Languages:
English Audio Description, English Dolby Atmos, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing, French, Spanish
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.39:1
Colour:
Colour
BLU-RAY Regions:
B
Bonus:
  • Audio Commentary with Producer-Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson
  • "Predator or Prey: Making The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" 8-Part Documentary
  • "The Hanging Tree" Song by Rachel Zegler
  • A Letter to the Fans
  • Theatrical Trailers

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Critic review

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (aka The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso

The Hunger Games series never really did anything for me, perhaps because I’d seen similar/better narratives of the concept (Battle Royale, The Running Man). I wasn’t in the demographic of young adults who consumed these books and likely have not seen the aforementioned films. That said, I was intrigued to see how The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes attempts to weave a prequel saga out of this book/movie series. After all, Battle Royale-style movies focus on the fallout, not the events leading to a gruesome dystopia. Thankfully, this film becomes an entirely different beast and easily one of the best Hunger Games films I’ve ever seen.

Taking place in the early years of Panem’s Hunger Games, the young Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) has risen to a point in his studies where he will be a mentor for a district player in the Games. Her protege is District 12 female tribute Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), a woman who quickly becomes someone the public roots for with her singing displays presented at the pre-Games talent show. The conspiring forces want to ensure the games are entertaining and dehumanizing to the districts battling it out for the right to resources. This includes the sinister snake-wielding gamemaker Dr. Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis), the Games creator and hard-drinking Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage), and the scene-stealing announcer Lucky (Jason Schwartzman).

As the Games proceed, the hypocrisy becomes apparent quickly. Drones are used to send water for the players during the brutal battle, but since the drones are old and malfunctioning, they end up causing more damage than sending water. Coriolanus becomes disillusioned with the orderly nature of the games while Lucy struggles to keep her few friends in the games alive. While the game itself is intense and perfectly highlights how willing a dystopian society is to accept entertaining displays of death, the more intriguing aspect of this film is what follows the game. The entire fourth act follows Coriolanus and Lucy as they try to move on from the Games in different ways. While they later reconnect, they also grow more distrustful of the corrupt society that has built them both up to be highly suspect people. Even when they seem to be on the same page of staging a revolution against the Games and their inhumanity, there’s a fear of being wronged again that can’t be shaken.

There’s an intensity to the film, even if you know for certain that nothing will happen to Coriolanus as he appears later in the Hunger Games story. The violence is vicious and shocking, especially for the surprises unleashed on the unsuspecting tributes in the form of terrorist bombings and rigged components of the games. The performances are incredibly strong, with Viola Davis being such a highlight that it’s surprising that she isn’t constantly cast as a villain. Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler have great chemistry as they struggle to understand the world from different perspectives, witnessing the atrocities that formed the classes they’ve been born into. There are also lots of nice touches to better build the world of Panem, from the zoo-style holding pens of the players to the echoing hanging tree that lets the cries of the executed ring out for many seconds after death.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is more compelling than any past Hunger Games movies. It’s hard to say if a sequel could sustain this intrigue and action, but it may be worth a shot. After all, the recent Planet of the Apes prequel films were incredible displays of the franchise at its best. At any rate, The Hunger Games has risen from its young-adult tomb to become something greater than it ever was before.

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