‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ garners mixed reviews from critics
Critics are divided on how to feel about the new ‘Hunger Games’ installation: Is it a cheap Hollywood milking of a popular franchise?
It’s been a long eight years since fans laid their eyes on a movie-theater screening of “The Hunger Games” series, which landed in theaters between 2012 and 2015.
The wildly popular young adult dystopian series experienced an intense (but short-lived) comeback this spring, when Netflix made the movies streamable for just one month. And fans took advantage of the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with Peeta, Katniss and Gale. For three consecutive weeks, the dystopian series lived on Netflix’s top 10 movies list.
Now, “The Hunger Games” is making its second comeback of the year — this time in theaters. The highly-anticipated prequel, “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” comes to theaters this weekend. Critics reviews are already pouring in. Feelings seem mixed.
In a particularly split review, IGN writes that the “prequel that has all the potent ingredients of the previous films and then some, making for an enjoyable yet thin adaptation that needs much more time to make its complex story truly compelling.”
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle boldly says “good riddance” to the original trilogy and declares the prequel to be “the best of the series.”
With a 67% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, critics are divided on how to feel about the new “Hunger Games” installation: Is it a cheap Hollywood milking of a popular franchise or a creative new take on a familiar story?
We haven’t heard from fans yet, but if the springtime resurgence of “Hunger Games” is legitimate foreshadowing, it is safe to assume fans will file into theaters to check out the prequel.
Positive critic reviews of ‘The Hunger Games’ prequel
- “The biggest reason why this movie sings is because Rachel Zegler is in it as Lucy Gray Baird,” writes IndieWire, praising the film’s leading lady and boldly claiming it is “The rare Hollywood prequel that towers over the rest of its franchise.”
- In a three-out-of-four star review, USA Today praises the film as “an enticing blend of dystopian action epic and musical drama that surpasses the previous films starring Jennifer Lawrence.”
- Variety calls the prequel a “compelling backstory,” adding, “Feels like a natural extension of the saga, balancing bloodsport, endangered young love and a heightened level of political commentary that respects the intelligence of young audiences as only Collins can.”
- “It’s a ritual worth returning to,” writes The Associated Press.
- “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is long, which means that it sometimes lags, but its cast and the well-crafted visuals keep it as entertaining as possible,” praised the Observer.
Not-so-positive reviews of ‘The Hunger Games’ prequel
- “Returning director Francis Lawrence delivers a disappointingly edge-free and largely superficial villain origin story,” pans Empire Magazine. “It has a few laughs and some stylish outfits, but this is unfortunately a shallow prequel, one which fails to breathe new life into the Hunger Games franchise.”
- AV Club compares the prequel to a “sappy” Romeo and Juliet, writing, “‘Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes’ squanders a potentially rich premise and winds up as a stock-issue Romeo and Juliet riff with nothing new for the die-hard faithful or the curious newcomers.”
- “If only there were something truly new and innovative about this chapter to fully justify resurrecting the Hunger Games franchise eight years after ‘Mockingjay — Part 2,’” writes The Hollywood Reporter.
- In a two-star rating, the Independent slams the movie as “limp,” claiming it strays from the central messages of previous “Hunger Games” films. “Francis Lawrence ... dilutes those messages beyond any practical use,” criticized the Independent.
- “This movie finally ties itself into various knots to prefigure the later world of Katniss, but the time to end the Games came long ago,” blasts The Guardian in a one-star review.
When does ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ get released in theaters?
“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” lands in theaters Friday, Nov. 17. Some showings will be available on Thursday, Nov. 16.
What’s ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ rated and why?
“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is rated PG-13 for violence and gore (the most intense of the “Hunger Games” movies, per IMDb) and some disturbing material.