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‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’: Fans Still Starving for More

Movie Review
photo Lionsgate Publicity

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆

“The Hunger Games” is a series of dystopian films that brought audiences to a world of oppression, survival and rebellion. They were adapted into films from Suzanne Collin’s best dystopian trilogy, “The Hunger Games.”

The story takes place in Panem, the only surviving civilization in the “The Hunger Games” universe. Panem is divided into 12 districts all under the control of “The Capitol.” The games require a boy and a girl participant, referred to as “tributes” from each district, to compete in a life-or-death battle on television until only one person is left standing.

The newest film of this series: “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” was released on Nov. 17, 2023 is a prequel to the other films. The plot focuses on the young and ambitious Coriolanus Snow, played by Tom Blyth, who is shown in this prequel as a fascinating figure long before he transforms into the frightening President Snow.

Despite the amazing and spectacular costumes and performances, this movie wasn’t my favorite of the series. The performers chosen to play the main leads were perfectly cast. Tom Blyth’s expressiveness and unique style made him an ideal choice for portraying a young Corionalus Snow; he brought the role to life. Additionally, Rachel Zegler was the perfect actor to play Lucy Gray; her stunning singing voice brought tears to viewers eyes.

Snow deals with the complexities of power, manipulation, and survival. In this society, snow suffered from oppression, poverty, and uncertainty as the mentor in the tenth annual Hunger Games.

Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow and Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird in “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.” (Murray Close/Lionsgate)

Snow becomes the mentor of District 12’s tribute, Lucy Gray, a vibrant and mysterious young woman whose presence makes him question his values and beliefs.

The film gives fans some clarity as to why Snow was so fixated on Katniss Everdeen, the Mockingjay from the previous films, and why he was so cruel. But the movie failed to show who the creator was and the mastermind behind the brutal Hunger Games.

Lucy Gray’s voice represented the start of her rebellious journey. She stood out in the film because of the unique, bright outfits she wore. Only those in the Capitol would dress colorfully, everyone else in the districts were extremely poor and usually dressed in brown or dull clothes.

As villains, Viola Davis’ Dr. Volumnia Gaul and Peter Dinklage’s Casca Highbottom were perfectly bad. Viola Davis is considered one of the baddest actors and this role did not disappoint, she was nasty and cruel, even better than what I had imagined. Peter Dinklage played the role of the dean of the hunger games academy perfectly. He personally oversaw the creation of the mentor program.

However, the other characters were unmemorable. In the earlier films of the series, every character had a unique personality that the audience adored, and they were all colorful. This film rushed through the emotional weight of the story, and didn’t allow the audience to connect with the characters.

The film, set 65 years before the first Hunger Games, was significantly different from the first books and films which was released from 2012-15. It was meant to show the tributes as helpless and distressed, as it did, but as soon as they entered the arena, they were all prepared for battle and the blood bath. However, in the book, everyone dispersed and remained with the person from their district due to fear.

Overall the film was a solid three stars out of five. The actors made the film a captivating emotional rollercoaster that was enjoyable, but the film itself could have been improved. We the fans have waited eight years to fully understand the games and were disappointed by what we received.

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About the Contributor
Kushba Rimi
Kushba Rimi, People of Pace Editor
Kushba Rimi, a sophomore, is a member of the Pacer NYC staff. She is also the representative of the tenth grade SGO. She enjoys exploring the city and hanging out with her friends.

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