We take a look at what is being said about the latest film based on the popular book series…

The Guardian: * “For this prequel, however – taken from Collins’s 2020 novel of the same title – the interest, dramatic momentum and energy have frankly expired, and all we have are the ridiculous outfits, the hallucinatory hairstyles, the zero-suspense action sequences, the standard-issue CGI cityscapes, the non-satirical flourishes about media control and Rachel Zegler (in what is effectively the Katniss role) doing a frankly bizarre suth’n accent in an eccentrically designed country-music-star dress, in her picturesque itinerant poverty, singing her down-home ballads while strumming a guitar which looks as expensive as a Lamborghini.”

The Telegraph: ** “The Hunger Games prequel plunges us back into the futuristic empire of Panem – but fails to live up to the first films of the franchise.”

IGN.com: “And the film is a tragedy, at its heart. I will say this is maybe the first time that a Hunger Games movie has really driven the point home that these are children killing children – the stripped-down empty sports hall sits in stark contrast to the flash and pomp of the terraformed environments of future arenas, with no beautiful scenery or eye-catching wildlife to distract from the brutal violence. The spectacle feels real, but the rest doesn’t add quite enough to put on a good show.”

Empire: ** “With some darkly comic asides, Jason Schwartzman does give a scene-stealing turn as ’50s-style host Lucky Flickerman, and Viola Davis has fun, too, as diabolical Gamemaker Dr Volumnia Gaul; but Peter Dinklage never quite leaves an impression as Academy Dean Casca Highbottom. The third act gives a glimpse of the dictator Snow has to inevitably become — but for a two-hour, 38-minute character study, it’s too little, too late.”

Variety: “As reluctant tribute Lucy Gray Baird, “West Side Story” star Rachel Zegler represents a cross between Jennifer Lawrence’s selfless hero, Katniss Everdeen, from the original films; the beguiling Gypsy Esmeralda of Victor Hugo’s imagination; and a pop icon like Taylor Swift, who brings people together. Her songs are the highlight of a movie that’s half an hour too long and frustratingly unclear in the final stretch. Then again, Hollywood has long since decided that audiences like their blockbusters bloated, and “Ballad” is but the latest to overdeliver.”

The Hollywood Reporter: “Francis Lawrence, who has directed all but the 2012 feature that kicked off the series, handles the arena action with the required energy, putting DP Jo Willems’ cameras through their paces with lots of frenetic movement. But the games prove less suspenseful and visually interesting in their confined bunker-like setting than under the sprawling biodome of the chapters that come later in the chronology. More than that, the contestants just lack dimension. And Lawrence’s journeyman handling of the more character-driven drama provides sputtering momentum at best.”

The Independent: ** “We’re provided only brief relief whenever one of the film’s established stars struts on the scene: Viola Davis, as head gamemaker Dr Volumnia Gaul, is deliciously camp, in platform Dr Martens and red rubber gloves. Peter Dinklage, as games inventor Casca Highbottom, revels in ennui. Jason Schwartzman, as “weatherman and amateur magician” Lucretius Flickerman, lands some surprisingly good one-liners. Their performances hint at the true narcissism of Panem – something you’ll struggle to find in any of the limp, neutered romantics of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.”

Paste Magazine: “Yet, even with its last act problems, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is an effective return to the cautionary tale that is Panem. Through Snow’s journey, we’re reminded of the terrifying escalation that violence incites, and what we lose when apathy and power trample all.”

The Wrap.com: ” The film is immersive and entertaining in its earlier chapters when it leans into the growing closeness between the unruly and vividly dressed tribute and her kindly mentor as they jointly plant the early seeds of the kind of showy Hunger Games we came to expect in the series’ original installments. Ramshackle stages play host to these Hunger Games, and while a great Jason Schwartzman’s witty host Lucky Flickerman emcees the proceedings with zest (he is often exceedingly funny), the show itself is far from the opulent exhibition it would become later.”

The film will be released in cinemas on the 17th November.