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Parents' Guide to

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Standout performances in violent villain origin story.

Movie PG-13 2023 165 minutes
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Movie Poster: The characters stand together, with Coriolanus Snow at the center

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 11 parent reviews

age 15+

Too violent for kids

Reading the books and letting your imagination visualize these stories is different than seeing it depicted in movies. Suzanne Collin’s has crafted incredible stories with these books and this movie is very well done, but the brutality of violence is not for young, sensitive viewers. I would highly recommend parents watch on their own before letting children under 15 watch this one. The story is very intense and heavy.
age 12+

you must understand that the movie is dark, not violent.

This is an amazing movie with very very good acting and it is extremely similar to the novel, The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes. There is a bit more fighting in this movie then in the previous movies. But the violence is not a more. I can't think of any scenes that stand out because they were especially violent. You have to remember, the whole underlining theme of the Hunger Games is sending children to an arena to fight to the death, the movie is going to be dark. You must understand that while there is nothing in the movie that is extremely violent, the whole movie is dark. There are very few bad words and no content.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (11 ):
Kids say (35 ):

This is a faithful, well-acted adaptation that's part villain origin story, part forbidden romance, part bluegrass concert. It's always tricky to watch or read about someone who you know from the start is going to turn into a megalomaniacal dictator, a bloodthirsty criminal, or a serial killer. When done right, these stories (which aren't for the faint of heart) can humanize and provide nuance to characters we collectively hate. Suzanne Collins' book The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes managed to do that for Coriolanus Snow, while also introducing a new District 12 tribute to root for. The main problem with this adaptation is that, without all of the book's detailed inner monologue and context, the characters aren't as fully fleshed out, particularly Lucy Gray. While Coriolanus' growing narcissism and devotion to the Capitol -- not to mention his family's reputation -- is conveyed well thanks to Blyth's impressively layered performance, Zegler's role is reduced to her songbird persona. She's an amazing singer, and the movie's music is memorably good, but audiences don't get to know her (or her family) beyond her voice. And because the action is split between the Games-observing mentors and the tributes who are trying to survive, viewers likely won't have time to invest in any of the District teens save for Lucy Gray (completely unlike Katniss and Peeta's two trips to the arena).

On the plus side, fellow academy student Sejanus, as portrayed by Josh Andrés Rivera, is a classic foil for Coriolanus. He's earnest, critical of the Capitol, and almost painfully naive. But the movie's two most fascinating characters are the two central adults: Dinklage and Davis don't disappoint as they steal scenes from the younger actors. (And Jason Schwartzman provides much-needed comic relief as the first Flickerman to host the Games live on the air.) Overall, there's plenty to appreciate about the movie: the performances, the production design, Nashville producer/songwriter Dave Cobb's music supervision, and the many Easter eggs and references for Hunger Games fans. Just don't expect to feel particularly attached to the central characters, because, ultimately, we know that despite brief moments of tenderness, Coriolanus grows up to become a power-obsessed monster.

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