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  • Writer's pictureIsabella Delgado

Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Review

On November 17, 2023, the new Hunger Games movie based on the 2020 book by Suzanne Collins was released. The book, bearing the same name, is a prequel to the original series and acts as an origin story for Coriolanus Snow, who goes on to become the President of Panam that we see in the trilogy. So, with this movie, there’s two different audiences: those who read the book prior and those who didn’t. I have not read the book, so when writing this review, I wanted to make sure both audiences were being represented. Because of this, my peer and friend Ely Nesper will be helping to give a well rounded review. SPOILERS AHEAD!

My Review: Book not read before watching film

Going into the movie, I knew nothing about this specific story, only what I had learned in the original trilogy. Even then, I was extremely excited to see a Hunger Games movie on the big screen again. The first thing that really caught my entire attention were the performances from the entire cast. Every single actor really pulled their weight and the chemistry between them was incredible. There is not enough kudos I can give to the cast.

Moving forward, the movie is two and a half hours long (which normally would be a struggle for me to sit through) however, this film keeps the audience engaged throughout, making it not feel anywhere near the actual run time. The structure is extremely well thought out, most likely courtesy of Collins. The story was told very well, the only complaint I hold is that some things felt underdeveloped. I’m sure that much character development had to be cut for time sake and it was somewhat felt.

Despite this, Coriolanus’ arc is very clear, the moment that he begins to act in his own self interest can be pinpointed. Tom Blyth, who plays Snow, gives a stellar performance and makes it easy for audiences to imagine how the young boy can grow to be the inhumane ruler we see in sixty years time. Overall, this new installment to the Hunger Games Cinematic Universe has taken audiences by complete surprise and has definitely filled the shoes that it had to!

Ely’s Review: Book read before watching film

I went into the movie with high expectations as the book is one of my favorites. And to say I was entirely disappointed would be a lie. I enjoyed the movie for what it was and thought the performances were phenomenal and the quality of the film was fantastic. However, I was missing the relationships that Coriolanus made along the way. In the novel, we get to know the Covey (Lucy Gray’s band) as their own unique characters. But in the movie, they felt more like an afterthought and they were barely introduced. It was also lacking in Coriolanus’ relationship with Sejanus. In the novel, the two were practically brothers. Their bond was inseparable and I was missing that nuance between them because it made the betrayal much more impactful.

I believe that the writers should have considered splitting the novel into two movies: the first one with Part I and II. And the second movie with Part III, to allow those relationships and worldbuilding to shine through and show the reality of Snow's character. As expected, the movie also did not represent Snow's inner thoughts. From the start of the novel, we got the perception that Snow was always calculating and cruel. He was relentlessly aware of his image and was constantly scheming about how to move up in the world, which gave the reader the perception that he was always evil, he just hid it better in the start.

Although this is all true, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Rachel Zegler, Tom Blyth, Hunter Schafer, and many more gave an amazing performance and I loved seeing my favorite novel come to life. I watched the movie knowing that it would not be the same as the book, but that it could be great nonetheless.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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