First Hunger Games prequel reactions call the film better than the originals

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
(Image credit: Lionsgate)

The first reactions to Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes are here – and they're pretty much unanimously blown away, with some even going as far as saying the prequel is better than the original movies. 

The film, which tells the story of Coriolanus Snow long before he was ruler of Panem, stars Rachel Zegler, Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, Hunter Schafer, and Tom Blyth. 

"I really enjoyed the harrowing #BalladofSongBirdsandSnakes mostly thanks to Tom Blyth who made me root for his Snow, despite knowing what he would choose to become," says Hello's Rebecca Lewis

"As a longtime obsessive of #TheHungerGames, oh boy, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes really delivered for me. Watching this made me feel the magic I felt when I saw the first movie as a 14-year-old – I literally cannot wait to see it again when it comes out," says Buzzfeed's Lauren Garafano

"#TheHungerGames: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is an epic return to the world of Panem. The production design & world building are excellent. With a bare-bones Capitol & games still finding their identity, the stakes are raised & immensely felt. Fans of the book will be happy," says Lauren LaMagna

"#TheHungerGames is a FEAST in terms of visuals + storyline + character arcs + tension. One of the best production of the whole year," is the verdict of Brit and Co.'s Chloe Williams

"#TheBalladOfSongbirdsAndSnakes is one of the best #TheHungerGames films. Coriolanus Snow’s 'rise to power' story is well executed by [director] F. Lawrence in this colder, twistier & more interesting prequel. Tom Blyth impresses, Rachel Zegler shines bright & Jason Schwartzman is hilarious," says critic Fico Cangiano

getFANDOM'S Eric Goldman is slightly more reserved: "#TheHungerGames The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is very good. The depiction of the games is terrific and really captures this scaled down and arguably more intensely brutal version of what we see in the future. However, don’t think the ending captures the impact the book did." 

Collider's Perri Nemiroff has similar thoughts: "Big #TheHungerGames fan over here and LOVED #TheBalladOfSongbirdsAndSnakes book, so I am *very* happy to report that the new movie is quite good! In fact, the first 2/3 is excellent. While I understand why they didn’t split the book into two movies, it is quite noticeable that the first 2/3 is stellar and the last 1/3 is so-so – underserved and rushed, but works just well enough"

"THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES is the best #HungerGames movie yet. It's darker, more of a character study than anything, but always genuinely entertaining. With high stakes, solid action, and killer performances, it's a thrilling return to Panem," says Next Best Picture's Daniel Howat

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes hits theaters this November 17. In the meantime, check out our guide to all the upcoming major movie release dates for everything else 2023 has in store. 

Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.