The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 271, January/February 2024

WSR Score3.5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
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Strong violent content and disturbing material
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-100)
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Francis Lawrence
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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"The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes" is set 64 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as tribute, and decades before Coriotanus Snow became the tyrannical President of Panem. The story follows a young Coriolanus as he unites with Lucy Gray Baird in the 10th Hunger Games, and battles his instincts for both good and evil. (Gary Reber)

Special features include commentary with Producer-Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jackson, the eight-part documentary "Predator Or Prey: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes" (HD 02:30:43), "The Hanging Tree" song by Rachel Zegler (HD 02:26), a letter to the fans, theatrical trailers, and a digital copy.

The 2.39:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 4K Ultra HD HDR10 picture, reviewed on a VIZIO Quantum X P85QX-JI UHD/HDR display, was photographed digitally using the Arri Alexa Mini LF IMAX camera system and sourced from a 4K Digital Intermediate. The color palette exhibits rich and warm colors with excellent depth and nuanced hue shading. The color palette shifts between near sepia hues and cooler blue tones with splashes of strong color. The tributes' maroon reddish attire is a standout as well as Lucy Gray's colorful dress, and the greenish peacekeeper uniforms. Much of the imagery is on the grayish side of the spectrum except for the realistic earthy colors displayed in the countryside of District 12. Flesh tones appear natural and exhibit realistic complexion variations. Production design is creatively compelling as well as the superb costume designs. HDR contrast is excellent. Dark shadow shadings and black levels are realistically delineated. This is indicative of the bits of particulate matter that crumble after an explosion and during the very dimly lit tunnels. White levels are perfectly natural. Resolution is superb, especially during closeups of facial features, clothing fabrics and object textures. Facial features exhibit fine detail in skin pores, lines, impacted dirt, hair and beards. Clothing fabrics reveal textural compositions and objects such as concrete pieces, buildings and interiors are realistically exhibited. This is a very cinematic presentation that exhibits excellent cinematography, color fidelity and resolution. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is dynamic and quite immersively enveloping.James Newton Howard's orchestral/choral score is dimensionally sweeping with a very wide and deep soundstage with excellent side channel and surround extension providing dynamic dimensionality. The concert in District 12 delivers excellent spatially and naturalness. Ambient environmental atmospherics are realistic sounding. Sound effects are powerful and directionalized and are enhanced with deep bass that can extend to sub-25 Hz frequencies. Gunshots are powerful and realistic as well as combat moments. Dialogue is intelligible with generally good spatial integration. In a forestry scene, Lucy Gray's voice can be heard panned between channels.

The Immersive Sound element is comprised of an aggressive extension of the orchestral/choral score, some dialogue extension, numerous sound effects such as thunder, crowd batter, a coin toss, explosions, falling debris, bell ring, some Foley effects, Hilarius Heavensbee's announcer voice, buzzer, a hovercraft lifting Volumnia's huge cylinder of snakes, concert, forest atmospherics, din, wind, water splashing, thunder and rain, panned Lucy Gray's voice, bird chirps and other minor sonics. This all makes for a very effective height layer, which enhances the wonderful spatial dimensionality of this soundtrack. Other filmmakers should adopt this sound design approach.

This is a wonderful holosonic® spherical surround soundtrack with a terrific layered and dimensional sound design. (Gary Reber)