The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is truly a cultural reset (shhh, I do not say that about every movie). I have started braiding my hair to one side again, fantasizing about how good I’d be at murdering other teens (FBI, it’s a joke), it saved Rachel Zegler from being canceled for *checks notes* saying the original Snow White was a little outdated, and it brought back this Josh Hutcherson meme — and I had to look it up on knowyourmeme.com like an old person, so truly a time to be alive.
For all of you asking: No this isn’t a continuation of The Hunger Games franchise and it is not a shameless money grab. The film and the novel it is inspired by are a prequel to The Hunger Games that we know and love. It takes place during the 10th Hunger Games, where Coriolanus “Coryo” Snow is a student in The Capital helping to devise a way to make The Hunger Games more entertaining. He is also vying for the chance to earn a scholarship to attend university because he is shamefully too poor to afford college without one. He gets paired with the incomparable, incomprehensibly musical Lucy Gray Baird from District 12 (but really a member of the covey) as a mentor for the games.
As he begins to catch feelings for her, he becomes all the more desperate to do whatever it takes to win. It is a story with cloudy motivations and cutthroat tensions that kept my eyes glued to the screen.
Review By the Numbers:
Humor — 2/10
It’s not meant to be funny. I mean, I am all for laughter, but this was a dramatic movie. That being said, I think I recall a few humorous quips thrown in, so a two it gets.
Acting — 8/10
The acting was incredible. I was not once in doubt about the reality of what the characters were going through. Rachel Zegler I had previously seen in West Side Story and she did not disappoint. Breakout stars (at least to me) Tom Blyth and Josh Andrés Rivera were tantalizing, and with a strong supporting cast of seasoned actors Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, and Hunter Schafer this movie’s star power was off the charts and it showed.
Storyline — 8/10
Another 8/10! This was for sure my favorite of The Hunger Games films. The story felt fresh and exciting throughout and despite its length I felt incredibly engaged. I did have to give it a slightly lower score because, I mean it was long, but I’m just grateful they did not make it a two-parter, I was just nervous my dad would fall asleep.
Jewishness — 2/10
After scouring the actors’ early life sections of their Wikipedia pages, I was really starting to think that the odds were not in this movie’s favor (sorry for the bad pun) for getting a good score in Jewishness. Right when I was about to give hope I found that Jason Schwartzman has described his ancestry as being “half-Polish Jewish and half-Italian,” and I am sure there must be another Jewish person involved somewhere so 2/10 it is!
Emotions — 7/10
I felt fear and sadness a lot, but the happiness was in short supply. Again, this is just the plight of a movie in The Hunger Games franchise, but since the category is emotions and I only felt part of the full emotion spectrum, this film has to settle for a 7. The emotions I did feel I felt strongly which is why the score is not lower.
The Soundtrack — 9/10
You read that right, a 9/10 for an awe-inspiring soundtrack that I am still listening to on repeat. This movie is musical without being a musical and each song felt perfectly refreshing. Every song performed by Lucy Gray and the rest of the Covey was wonderfully done and perfect for the plot. The icing on the cake is of course Can’t Catch Me Now by Olivia Rodrigo which is the most beautiful song ever and encompasses the exact plot of the movie in the most poetic way possible. Stop reading this and go listen to the song now!
How Much It Made Me Feel Like I Was Back in 2014 (In a Good Way) — 6/10
I am older and more mature now and don’t think we should forgive Snow just because he’s hot. Don’t ask me what 14-year-old me would’ve said. However, I am strongly considering buying a Mockingjay pin because I can’t find my one from middle school.
A very respectable score for a great movie! So are you waiting for? Go put on your coolest, rainbow tulle skirt, tie your hair in a single braid, and go see The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes before you scroll past anymore spoilers and fan theories on TikTok!