It’s been eight years since Katniss Everdeen’s story came to an end in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. Now, we’ll get a chance to witness some of the events that created the world she lived in with the prequel The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. This book-to-screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins' work, which will hit theaters November 17, stars Tom Blyth as a young Coriolanus Snow and Rachel Zegler as a District 12 tribute for the 10th Hunger Games. The movie has screened ahead of its release, and people are hitting social media with their first reactions.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is essentially an origin story for the man who we know will grow up to be the villainous president of Panem (portrayed in the OG franchise movies by Donald Sutherland). At 18 years old, Coriolanus is assigned to mentor Rachel Zegler’s Lucy Gray Baird, the female tribute from District 12 (and possible distant relative of one Katniss Everdeen). Let’s see what people are saying about what transpires between the two.
Perri Nemiroff raves about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ stacked cast, in multiple posts on X, specifically shouting out the two leads and Viola Davis. It does sound like it was a struggle to include all of the events from the book, though, as Nemiroff notes:
Big The Hunger Games fan over here and LOVED The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes book, so I am *very* happy to report that the new movie is quite good! In fact, the first 2/3 is excellent. While I understand why they didn’t split the book into two movies, it is quite noticeable that the first 2/3 is stellar and the last 1/3 is so-so — underserved and rushed, but works just well enough.
Daniel Howat of Next Best Picture also says he had a “great time” with the prequel. Howat mentioned the movie’s surprisingly long runtime of 2 hours and 37 minutes but said it doesn’t drag. The critic continues:
THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES is the best Hunger Games movie yet. It’s darker, more of a character study than anything, but always genuinely entertaining. With high stakes, solid action, and killer performances, it’s a thrilling return to Panem.
Stephanie Ramirez also calls this her favorite Hunger Games movie, saying in an X thread that Tom Blyth feels like he was born for this role. The film stays true to the source material, the portrayal of Panem from the page to the screen is perfect, and the chemistry between the lead actors is “flawless,” according to Ramirez, who continues:
Let's talk about the chemistry between Coriolanus Snow and Lucy Gray Baird. I can happily say that both Blyth and Zegler did a FANTASTIC job in displaying it on screen. Their chemistry was flawless and heartbreakingly beautiful to witness. A perfect casting for the roles.
Lauren Garafano of Buzzfeed writes that she LOVES this movie and already can’t wait for a repeat viewing once it hits theaters. Tom Blyth’s transformation into the tyrant fans have long known is “spot-on,” she says. In her words:
Also, having read the book and knowing how President Snow is, Tom Blyth was so spot on with his performance — like he totally *got* the nuance of playing a character who wasn’t born evil but is a result of his own choices. There’s SUCH a shift in tone when Coryo becomes Snow. And of course I fell in love with Rachel Zegler’s Lucy Gray, because literally how could you not??? Rachel’s portrayal has hints of Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss, but at the same time is totally her own. also I could listen to ‘The Hanging Tree’ forever it’s so good.
Tessa Smith has the same takeaway, calling Tom Blyth’s portrayal “the performance of a lifetime.” She writes on X:
The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes perfectly delivers the downward spiral of who will become President Coriolanus Snow that fans love to hate. The entire cast is phenomenal. Tom Blyth gives the performance of a lifetime!
It sounds like people are really fired up about The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, especially established fans of the series. The leading actors are garnering a lot of praise from those who were able to catch an early screening, so hopefully their opinions will help you decide whether or not this will be a part of your plans upon the movie’s release.
If you want to refamiliarize yourself with the world of Panem before the prequel hits theaters on Friday, November 17, all four of the Hunger Games movies (which we've ranked) are available to stream with a Peacock subscription. Also be sure to check out the schedule of 2023 new movie releases to see what’s coming up now through the end of the year.