New Hunger Games movie gets rave first reactions

Lucy-Jo Finnighan
Snow and Lucy Gray in Ballad of Songbirds and SnakesLionsgate

The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is beginning to get its first reviews, and the odds are ever in its favor.

In the early 2010s, the young adult dystopian genre was the hottest thing in town. This included The Hunger Games, a series set in a futuristic USA in which children are forced to fight to the death in an arena run by an oppressive and controlling Capitol.

The franchise expanded in 2020 when author Suzanne Collins released a prequel novel, titled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. The plot reads, “Years before he becomes the tyrannical president of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow remains the last hope for his fading lineage. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow becomes alarmed when he’s assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird from District 12. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and political savvy, they race against time to ultimately reveal who’s a songbird and who’s a snake.”

Article continues after ad

The book proved to be popular among fans, so popular in fact, that its movie adaptation is heading into cinemas very soon. And this film is also proving popular amongst critics, who have been heaping praise upon the prequel.

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a “masterpiece”

Due to a recent smaller deal made with SAG-AFTRA, the cast of Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is able to promote the movie, just before it heads into cinemas later this month.

And thankfully, so far reviews for the movie will no doubt give promotion an extra push, as every review seems to be glowing so far. As reviewer Erik Davis writes on X (formerly Twitter): “Really loved the new #HungerGames movie – right up there with Catching Fire in terms of best of the entire series, imo. Solid story, dug the twists. Great action sequences, character development & world expansion, but the real star is the cast.

Article continues after ad

“I didn’t know what to expect from #BalladOfSongbirdsAndSnakes, but shout out to all involved. This is a good, entertaining watch that works for both long-time fans of the Hunger Games and people who are brand new to the franchise. It’s a definite recommend from me!”

For those familiar with the franchise, comparing it to Catching Fire is high praise, as the 2013 movie is considered to be the best in the franchise – and has the highest ranking on Rotten Tomatoes with a 90% score.

Article continues after ad

This praise is continued by Pop Crave, who say that “The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ is an overall triumph, expanding on the incredible world-building that the franchise is famous for. Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler are great leads with very dynamic performances, and Viola Davis steals the show in a deliciously villainous role.

“The film reflects a dark and gritty tone similar to its ‘Mockingjay’ predecessors, with several frightening and intense scenes throughout. Its commentary on classism, war, and political propaganda also remains just as powerful as it was a decade ago in the first movie.”

Article continues after ad

The Atom Review is quick to call the movie a “MASTERPIECE! An emotional epic full of stunning action, great dialogue & bold imagery … Not just another Hunger Games, it’s the best book to movie ever!”

This book comparison, and overall comparison of the franchise as a whole continues with The Hashtag Show, saying that “Everything from costuming to casting is spot on. Dare we say, it’s better than the book!” Meanwhile Grace Randolph states, “I’m not a huge fan of the franchise and I was definitely entertained!”

Article continues after ad

Another writer adds, “The cast is magnificent and the movie was so well crafted, its production design, the score, everything is just so perfect. Not my favorite from the franchise but still so good.”

The casting of The Hunger Games franchise has usually been a hit performance-wise, and this film is no different. Rebecca Lewis writes “I really enjoyed the harrowing #BalladofSongBirdsandSnakes mostly thanks to Tom Blyth who made me root for his Snow, despite knowing what he would choose to become.”

Article continues after ad

As described by The Wrap’s Scott Mendelson, “Superbly constructed and exquisitely acted, it wrestles with the franchise’s complicated pop culture legacy while thriving as a “money’s on the screen” Imax blockbuster. Zegler gives a full-on movie star turn and Davis is a macabre hoot.”

The Hollywood Handle also describes Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes as “a magnificent movie that enriches the original franchise. The cast is outstanding, Pete Dinklage, Rachel Zegler, Viola Davis and Tom Blyth are STANDOUTS. Production design and score being also highlights.”

Article continues after ad

Ultimately, this prequel movie is seeming to capture the magic that the original series did. To quote one writer from Buzzfeed, “as a long-time obsessive of #TheHungerGames , oh boy, the ballad of songbirds and snakes really delivered for me. watching this made me feel the magic I felt when I saw the first movie as a 14-year-old – I literally cannot wait to see it again when it comes out.”

So check out the trailer below, and get ready for the games once more. May the odds be ever in your favor:

Article continues after ad

Check out more of our Hunger Games coverage here.

Related Topics

About The Author

Lucy-Jo is a Movies and TV Writer at Dexerto, and has previously written for Screen Rant and Girls on Tops. After earning a Master's Degree in Film and Literature, Lucy-Jo now loves covering films, TV shows, and anime, especially if it's something by Mike Flanagan, or anything drenched in camp. You can contact her at lucyjo.finnighan@dexerto.com