In The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, Francis Lawrence, the returning director of the franchise, takes us back 64 years before the original film to explore the formative years of the future president of Panem, Coriolanus Snow, portrayed by Tom Blyth.
The prequel begins with Snow, hungry and strategic, navigating his way through the 10th Hunger Games, seeking to convince his peers of his Capitol-worthy status and boost the blood bath’s ratings. Assigned the task of coaching a sacrificial tribute, Lucy Gray Baird (played by Rachel Zegler), Snow’s journey unfolds with a mix of calculated decisions and grand gestures.
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Release Date: 11/17/2023
Director: Francis Lawrence
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Where to Watch: In Theaters
The film’s early musical elements, introduced through Lucy Gray’s shanty, provide a surprising twist, with Zegler’s expressive Appalachian twang bringing a unique charm
While some scenes, such as the first kiss between Snow and Lucy Gray, lack convincing depth, others delve into the fragile alliance between the characters. Although reminiscent of the first movie, the gladiatorial sequences present a low-budget prototype that adds a layer of humor.
As the narrative progresses, the film gains momentum in its shrewd and gripping third act, where the complexities of Suzanne Collins’s novels prove challenging to adapt. The child-on-child brutality is tempered to fit a PG-13 rating, while political cynicism weaves through the story, challenging the typical narrative of Chosen One savior. The film depicts a world where the Capitol, portrayed as a totalitarian dictatorship expanse, echoes our own reality, prompting reflection on contemporary headlines and the generational cycle of anger and fear.
In the most compelling aspects of the film, the focus shifts from the Hunger Games themselves to the evolution of Coriolanus Snow
Tom Blyth’s star-making performance captures Snow’s transformation from a moneyed pretty boy to a clear-eyed manipulator, revealing the subtlety of this supervillain origin story. The script, crafted by Michael Lesslie and Michael Arndt, emphasizes Snow’s increasing control through calculated decisions, adding a layer of unsettling complexity.
The film’s third chapter takes a bold departure, moving away from the Capitol’s austerity into a pastoral forest setting. Here, the dynamic between Snow and Lucy Gray becomes more fraught, and the depth of Snow’s dark side fully reveals itself. The kills feel more brutal, and the film slows down, allowing for exquisite tension between the characters who dared to trust each other.
The prequel’s suspenseful narrative revolves around the question of how Snow’s credo, “Snow always lands on top,” will play out, making The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes a surprisingly gripping addition to The Hunger Games franchise.
About our Admit One Author
Anika Chapman is an artist and writer from the small town of Basalt, Colorado. She is currently immersed in her academic journey at Savannah College of Art and Design, situated in the city of Savannah, Georgia. As she navigates the diverse realms of creativity, Anika is diligently working towards completing her educational pursuits, with an anticipated graduation in the upcoming spring of 2023. Her chosen field of study is Art History and Museum Studies, where she delves into the rich tapestry of artistic evolution and the nuanced curation of cultural heritage.