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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

CineHawk review: ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’

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GRAPHIC: SADIE HENZES ’24/THE HAWK

The odds were ever in the favor of “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” a book-to-screen adaptation of author Suzanne Collins’ prequel to the original “Hunger Games” trilogy.

Directed by Francis Lawrence, the director of the original four movies, and co-written by Collins, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” tells the story of “Hunger Games” antagonist President Coriolanus Snow’s life 64 years prior to Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark’s story.

Snow, played by Tom Blyth, is willing to do whatever it takes to secure his future in the face of financial difficulties while living in the luxurious Capitol. As a result, he becomes a mentor to the District 12 female tribute, Lucy Gray Baird, played by Rachel Zegler, in the 10th annual Hunger Games, a battle to the death between 24 children from the 13 districts.

The movie fits over 500 pages into a two-and-a-half hour movie, making for a fast-paced and action-packed experience. Broken up into three parts, the movie does not feel as long as it is, and the tension keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

Turning a novel this long and dense into a film any viewer will be able to follow, even without any previous knowledge, is no small feat. Book purists will be upset to know that there are several changes between the film and the novel, but the changes keep the film going at a fast-pace, and allow for elements with deeper lore to be easily understood.

The film also faced the challenge of having to live up to high expectations of the beloved original movies. They currently hold the record for highest grossing post-apocalypse movies, with “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” in the No. 1 spot, and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” falling into the No. 2 and 4 spots, respectively. But the new film has fared well, holding the spot of No. 1 movie in the world since its release.

In a prequel about a franchise’s antagonist, Collins wrote and Lawrence directed the film in a way that has viewers rooting for Snow before following along his descent into the villain we know him as.

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