By: Macy Mullins

This past week the prequel to the original Hunger Games trilogy was released in movie theatres worldwide. The book explores the early life of future Panem President, Coriolanus Snow (Played by Tom Blythe). This takes place during the 10th annual Hunger Games. This year the top 24 students in class at the academy in the Capitol are assigned as mentors to the tributes chosen to fight from each district.  

The story follows Coriolanus’ strategic attempts to keep Lucy Gray Baird, the female tribute from District 12 he is assigned to, alive. Even though he had a capital upbringing, Panem had a bloody war that caused him to lose his father at a very young age. He lives with his grandmother and cousin, Tigris (Hunter Schafer). They are barely able to keep their head above water and the mentor who wins is awarded the Plinth Prize, a scholarship to a university that Coriolanus desperately needs. During their time in the games, he begins falling for Lucy Gray (Rachel Zegler) and becomes willing to do what he needs to keep her alive. Even if it means cheating.  

I thought the casting for the characters was excellent. My two biggest standouts were Jason Schwartzman as Lucky Flickerman. He provided much-needed comic relief throughout tense scenes and had the entire theatre giggling with his comments.  I think Tom Blythe did an excellent job during the third act of the movie where we really get a close glimpse of what made Snow turn into the detached cold man, he is in the trilogy. I caught myself being upset when he turned bad, even though I knew he would.  

I think it is interesting to watch this movie and then go and watch the first Hunger Games movie. The games have evolved between the 54 years we see Lucy Gray competing then Katniss Everdeen. The original arena is an old capital sports stadium. There also aren’t cameras following the tributes’ every move before the games. When the tributes got picked, they weren’t given an opportunity to train and put on a show for donors but placed in a zoo cage for Capitol children and adults to stare at like a monkey until it was time to go fight to the death.  

With that, I think one of my least favorite parts of the movie was Rachel Zegler’s fake country accent. Lucy Gray, although having been chosen as a District 12 tribute, claims she is not part of any district. She plays with her band called The Covey, and they traveled across Panem before the war was over. I understand it’s called the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes but Zegler’s random song bursts throughout the movie had me cringing at times in my seat, especially during the reaping ceremony.  

Another issue I have is how fast-paced each act felt. I noticed this in the book as well. The games aren’t very long. I know you must condense a lot for a two-hour thirty-minute movie but the games in the book went on for over a week and in the movie, it looks like two days. Even Snow and Gray’s relationship felt rushed. In the third act, we see scenes of them at a lake in flashes, but this is one of my favorite parts of the book and is crucial to their relationship development.  

My rating for this movie is 3.5/5. I think the movie should have been done in two parts. There were so many great moments in this movie, but it did not give us enough time to fully digest and appreciate them. The cast was outstanding, but I wish we were able to see the relationships and friendships throughout the movie fully form together.

Go see The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes in theaters today!

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