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  • Madelynn Lockwood

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”: Movie Review

By: Maddy Lockwood, Features Editor

As a teenage girl in her twenties, I of course have been obsessed with the “Hunger Games” series since my tween era (arguably too young to be watching the movies, but let's blame that on my parents). The first time I watched the original “Hunger Games” movies, I watched it at home, and I can remember the feeling of my heart pounding significantly faster from the reaping scene until they raised into the arena for the first time. It’s safe to say that I experienced that again as this group of tributes in the “Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” entered the arena for the 10th annual Hunger Games.

This “Hunger Games” prequel serves as President Snow’s villain origin story and gives some much-needed backstory on the games themselves. The movie opens with Coriolanus Snow and his cousin Tigress scavenging for food during the rebellion. This war becomes the justification for the games, and they are created as a way to punish the districts for their uprising. 

We then jump forward to Coriolanus Snow’s final year of schooling in the Capitol, where he hopes to earn the Plinth Prize. This prize is the Snow family’s last chance to sustain their capitol lifestyle, and maintain their long standing reputation. Unfortunately, with a change in rules and many changes to the games in general, Snow now must mentor a tribute, Lucy Gray, in the games for a chance at the prize. This spirals into a conflicting storyline of Snow navigating his own selfish motivations for her to win, romantic feelings for Lucy and walking the line of Capitol compliance or self-serving rule breaking.

After reading the book pretty soon after its release back in 2020, I was sucked back into the universe and was patiently awaiting the movie’s arrival. I am happy to report that I thought the movie was fantastic, despite the two-and-a-half–year difference between my experience with each, the book and movie.

With any book-to-movie adaptation, there are changes that are made, and I am going to be that guy and say it: the book was better. But to be fair, I feel that way with all of the books in the series. Suzanne Collins, the books’ author, writes with such haunting detail and horrifyingly beautiful imagery that a lot of it just cannot be carried over into a movie of reasonable length. With that, there were some significant cuts made, similar to all of her other movies. What I think is a standout from the other movies, though, is that I felt that the changes or missing parts of the storyline did not take away from any parts of the story, like they did in other movies. 

I loved the movie; that being said, it was not without its faults. I felt that the movie pretty heavily relied on previous knowledge of the setting and atmosphere set by the previous editions of the series, and while this was fun for the more fanatic followers of the series, it was difficult for those who were not as entrenched in the lore that existed on social media during the original trilogy to follow along. There was always something happening in the movie that held significance as either a nod to one of the previous books or to something that will later reveal parts of the story, so this is not a movie that you have to pay too much attention to. 

Without giving too many spoilers from the book or giving away the many twists and storylines that the movie and book both follow, I implore you to go see the movie and delve back into the Hunger Games craze that gripped the mid-2010s. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

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