The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes takes audiences back to dystopian Panem in a bleak and distressingly violent prequel. The origin of villain Coriolanus Snow is a dark journey of desperate ambition evolving to utter ruthlessness. Cunning and deception become vital tools for survival in a murderous hellscape of fiendish oppressors. Where glimmers of love, mercy, and kindness are easily snuffed by systematic barbarism. The film enthralls until losing considerable steam in a prolonged third act. It never regains climactic footing while trying to explore a deeper relationship between wary protagonists.
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