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“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” Critical Review

A young Coriolanus Snow and District 12 tribute, Lucy Gray, takes on the 10th annual Hunger Games set 64 years ago before the popular franchise displaying a harsh dystopian theme in the early Hunger Games.

Before Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark came there was Coriolanus Snow and Lucy Gray Baird as one of the first Hunger Games duo. The Hunger Games movies are based on the popular book series by Suzanne Collin, who first released the first book in 2008. Fast forward to 2023, her latest book, “The Hunger Games, the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”, released in 2020, has now been adapted as a movie that released Nov. 17, 2023.

Like the previous Hunger Games movie, this movie follows the same concept of tributes being randomly picked for the annual Hunger Games and competing. However, this time viewers and fans are given insight and perspective from a young Coriolanus Snow before he was president, who is a mentor at that time of the games.

The cinematography and visuals are so well done, with shots of Snow’s home, the fancy school that he attends, and a laboratory that questions what goes on behind closed doors. Along with one of the first arenas in the games that at first look dull and small but later turned into a dystopian cage for battle.

The colors associated with different characters and overall in the film also stand out. Minor characters or extras in the background are also detailed so perfectly that it makes viewers think about what the old games were like and the progression of the “newer” games. Overall, the film visually makes viewers feel like they are also there, watching and experiencing the games themselves.

Tom Blyth, who played Coriolanus Snow, played the role so well and fitting from facial expressions in scenes where Snow had nothing but panic and fury in his eyes, to easily transition to a composed and refined man. It also made it easy for viewers to fall for Rachel Zegler’s character, Lucy Gray, as her acting was on point, too. Her character, portrayed as a songbird who occasionally jumped into a singing note, was also poised to be a stubborn yet quick-witted hopeful girl from District 12.

Throughout the film, viewers see Snow and Lucy Gray take on the games together, mainly for Snow’s benefit to keep his family’s status and wealth above ground. While in the previous films, Snow is the president of Panem who lives in luxury, and those around him at his commend.

In this prequel film, he is fighting for his life, where, at one point, he is thrown into the games to save his friend Sejanus Plinth. Throughout the film, Snow puts on a mask that he is self-possessed. There are even scenes where he hides food to eat later on. This may be a small thing to point out, but the movie franchise is called The Hunger Games. Snow was at one point starving, too, like other Districts.

This parallel to previous films shows a different side of Snow, making viewers feel sympathetic to him and his life of poverty and struggle. However, mentioned throughout the movie by his sister (Tigris Snow) and Snow himself to keep himself going he reminds himself that, “Snow lands on top”.

Overall the film was visually pleasing, the plot was different than other films in the franchise as it is a prequel. I think it was done in a way that shows why Snow is the way he is in the franchise. This is a movie I recommend watching, especially for fans of The Hunger Games.

It is captivating with the different plot twists and suspense of Snow’s actions. With scenes to merit previous films and honorable mentions, like the song “Hanging Tree.” Although it is not like the originals, it is a movie on its own that tells the story of the 10th annual Hunger Games.

Corrections: A previous version of the story featured a typo of “district” as “distract.” This has been corrected.

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