Based on the Suzanne Collins book of the same name, “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes,” a prequel to the other “The Hunger Games” films, was released in theaters on Nov. 17.
The film takes place during the 10th annual Hunger Games, following Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) as he mentors District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) in an attempt to win a scholarship.
Prior to the events of the film, the scholarship, known as the Plinth Prize, was awarded to the academy student with the highest grades. In an attempt to get more viewers to tune into the 10th Hunger Games, the scholarship’s rules are changed to implement a mentorship program. With these new rules, whichever student does the best job mentoring their tribute will receive the scholarship.
During the reaping ceremony to determine who from each district will compete in the Hunger Games, Snow is assigned to mentor Baird, a singer from District 12 and a member of the Covey.
Initially, Snow gets to know Baird in an attempt to turn her into a spectacle and win the prize, but upon growing closer to her, his motivations begin to change.
Though the runtime of 157 minutes may seem daunting to some, the film moves very quickly and doesn’t seem that lengthy. It’s incredibly fast-paced and filled with lots of twists, surprises and action.
The film also incorporates a prominent musical element, showcasing Zegler’s incredible vocal talents. Baird has multiple musical performances throughout the movie, including the franchise’s hit song, “The Hanging Tree.” It also provides an origin story for the song, showing the actual tree and the events that occurred.
Hunter Schafer’s performance as Tigris is yet another standout. The “Euphoria” star plays a prominent role as Snow’s cousin and biggest supporter. She’s a great addition to the franchise and the perfect choice for the character.
As a fan of Olivia Rodrigo and her music, it was disappointing that her original song for the movie, “Can’t Catch Me Now,” wasn’t present within the actual film. It was only utilized for the credits, as opposed to within the duration of the movie itself.
Other than that, the soundtrack for the film is amazing. Every song is well-written and fits perfectly, helping to tell the story. Music is incorporated at the perfect times, allowing for it to enhance what is happening on screen.
There are also some fun references to the other films within the franchise, such as the inclusion of mockingjays and the katniss plant. The presence of “The Hanging Tree” is a great callback for fans, as well.
What makes the film interesting is how it focuses on Snow, a main antagonist of the franchise, as he becomes a villain. It’s fascinating to look at the story through his eyes, and see who he was prior to becoming President of Panem.
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The film is an incredible addition to “The Hunger Games” series and the perfect prequel. It’s arguably one of the best films in the franchise — if not the best overall. It’s a must-see for any fans of the series, but it’s also an enjoyable watch for anyone, regardless of prior knowledge.