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FILM REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS & SNAKES (12A)ESP RATING: 3/5


Up until the final act this was arguably the ‘third best’ The Hunger Games film in the franchise – behind the stellar first two entries.

When you factor that in, it’s about on par with the final split Mockingjay parts, which puts this into competent – if a little safe – prequel territory.

This is based many years before the Jennifer Lawrence-led four-movie series (which started with the 74th iteration), with a floundering, struggling for viewership, tenth annual Hunger Games – before Donald Sutherland’s tyrannical President of Panem ruled all the districts with an iron fist.

A far younger version of Sutherland’s Coriolanus ‘Coryo’ Snow (up-and-coming British actor Tom Blyth) mentors feisty District 12 tribute, Lucy Gray Baird (played by West Side Story’s Golden Globe-winning Best Actress Rachel Zegler).

To reinstate his family’s honour and prosperity – his father died during the first rebellion of the districts some thirteen years before – he must make a ‘spectacle’ out of his student to earn a scholarship known as the Plinth Prize, assessed by Peter Dinklage’s (The Game of Thrones) Academy Dean, Casca Highbottom, and Viola Davis’ Head Gamemaker, Volumnia Gaul.


But when he starts to get feelings for ‘songbird’ Lucy, he encourages her to use her strong singing voice to ‘woo’ potential sponsors – to bring water and supplies to the arena – and in turn devises a few strategic measures to try and keep her alive during the battle-to-the-death event.

And if the movie – which was split into three with The Mentor, The Prize and The Peacekeeper – actually ended at around the hour fifty (ish) mark after the first and middle parts, it would have undoubtedly rated better.

Let’s be fair, the last two films suffered due to the lack of an actual Hunger Games.

So, when this goes off at a trajectory – to basically validate Coryo’s slivery transition to what we saw in the original films – it forgoes a little momentum. Maybe hampered with it being a standalone film that ‘may or may not’ have had its own sequel.

But despite the finale closing the film on a more ‘plodding’ note – this is still an enjoyably noteworthy addition to Hunger Games lore.

And Blyth and Zegler – in particular – simply shine on this blockbuster stage.


ESP Rating: 3/5


Gavin Miller



SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: TOM BLYTH, RACHEL ZEGLER, VIOLA DAVIS, JOSH ANDRES RIVERA, PETER DINKLAGE, JASON SCHWARTZMAN, HUNTER SCHALER, MACKENZIE LANSING, BURN GORMAN & FIONNULA FLANAGAN

RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 37 MINS

DIRECTOR: FRANCIS LAWRENCE


Go to www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for all the latest film information & showtimes at Peterborough’s Showcase Cinema De Lux

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