Everyone remembers the Iconic Mockingjay whistle. The Hunger Games jumpstarted as a new franchise in the early-mid 2010s that was part of the YA genre. During the midst of Superhero Movies, Twilight, and Harry Potter, the name Katniss Everdeen and the Hunger Games made it’s mark on the world. Based on the 4 books by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games premise is a group of 2 teenagers are taken from 12 districts to embark in a battle royale to the death. A game where one contestant is left standing. Some familiar faces have resurfaced as the previous director for all 3 movies, Francis Lawrence & composer James Newton Howard to help adapt one more movie into the franchise. A talented cast was brought in, such as Peter Dinklage, Viola Davis, Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer, Tom Blyth, and many others to perform this new work.
This movie is an origin story based on the main villain of the story, President Coriolanus Snow. The movie delves into his philosophy, motivations, and circumstances as how he transformed into the iconic, cold, manipulative, and frightening monster in the series. The story starts as Snow is 18 years old at the Prestigious Capitol Academy. His lineage is fading into obscurity. He has to protect & preserve his family and legacy. The Hunger Games have been going on for 10 years. The Capitol’s audience has started to become desensitized & unsettled to watch the games anymore. Snow has to find a way to preserve and create new opportunities for the event. For the first time in the Games, the candidates from each district have a host. Snow has to host a very eccentric female resident known as Lucy Gray. She’s coincidently from District 12 as well and played by Rachel Zegler. Although the actress has been through some controversies this past year, she shines in this movie. Lucy Gray is a singer, troublemaker, and a person that’s desperate to survive. Rachel has several occurrences where she sings and it will be hit or miss depending on your perspective for singing during movies. However, her voice is angelic along with frightening and incredible lyrics on survival, being your own person, and being in love.
The movie really shines when Zegler and Blyth show their chemistry on screen. Both characters show that they’re both genuine and considerate towards each other despite their differences & backgrounds. Before the Games started, there was a war between the Districts and the Capitol. The Games started as a punishment and a reminder to the Districts of who’s truly in power. The hostility towards the candidates and the people are very present and explicit during the movie. There are many controversial events that happen before the Games begin. If you’ve all watched the Hunger Games films, you’ll notice many differences on The Capitol’s treatment of the candidates & games during this movie & the later ones.
Some top performances are from Pete Dinklage (Casca Highbottom) & Viola Davis (Dr. Volumnia Gaul). Casca is a Dean at the Academy and holds a strong grudge against Snow & his family. He’s one of the creators of the Games and holds high standards for the event & his students. Dr. Volumnia Gaul is one of the Gamemakers and has a demented mind. She’s intelligent, sadistic, & over the top. Gaul has many questionable methods on making all the candidates suffer. Both characters are a stepping stone for Snow as they challenge, change, & improve his character emotionally and philosophical as a man & future leader.
One of the main issues in the film is the development of Snow as a villain. The film paints him as someone with a good will. He’s torn between selfish and selfless actions during the film. He risks his life, reputation, & dignity with some of his actions. It almost paints him as a hero. However, the film shows some explicit and implicit cues with his reactions & decisions in the film. The writing and development leave Snow character ambiguous until the last few moments where we see the Villain we all recognize.
Despite that, The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes is a treat for newcomers & older fans of this beloved series with great action, top performances, a fantastic score, and some fanservice references to keep track of.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes releases in theaters on November 17.