By Liv Dunleavy
“Another ‘Hunger Games’? It’s not even about Katniss! This movie has nothing to do with ‘The Hunger Games’ I knew as a kid!” These were some of many complaints made when the trailer for “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” was released.
I don’t know about you, but as soon as I saw the trailer, I was hooked. As a Gen Z youth who grew up on the original trilogy books and movies, I was intrigued immediately. The early games - how it all began? Yes please.
This time the story focuses on our beloved President Snow - well, pre-president Snow, also known as Coriolanus. His lore, if you will. Which - by the way - is insane. I mean, I feel like we should have all expected someone as wicked as him would have a whacko backstory.
Coriolanus Snow’s complicated life is intertwined with many others, and this movie shows us how his character developed. If you’ve watched the original trilogy or read the books you would know that he’s not the “nice guy” in the story.
The film is focused around the 10th annual Hunger Games, a live televised fight to the death between 24 tributes from the 12 districts of Panem. They are chosen at random and have no choice but to participate, and only one tribute can win.
The “game” this time is different, though, as the students at Coriolanus’ academy are selected to mentor the tributes in hope of winning to retrieve the Plinth Prize Scholarship, which will guarantee a free ride to the university.
The creator of the games, Dr. Volumina Gaul, a flamboyant and Effie-esque character, lays down the laws of the contest. The show is not only centered around winning - it is also centered around attention. The games are losing their viewers, and without viewers, the Hunger Games can no longer prosper or continue.
When the tributes are pulled, Coriolanus is assigned as a mentor to the girl tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird, our songbird.
Lucy Gray is a mystery, self proclaimed, though I feel like I can feel her walls breaking down and building up throughout the film to reveal her true self. She draws her crowd with her humanity and musical talent.
The movie shows a side of Coriolanus that the audience, if they’d watched the original trilogy, could never have imagined him to have. A soft, caring, and human side. One that has empathy and a heart.
Snow’s best friend in the movie, Sejanus, was such a refreshing character to see come out of the Capitol. He’s the only character to come from the Capitol with an ounce of respect for the districts.
His character spends the whole film standing on the side of the tributes, doing what he can to help them. It is even more appreciable due to the fact he is the son of the wealthy Plinth family, who award the Plinth Prize.
As for the plot, it is broken up into three parts, but it’s easy enough to follow, and doesn’t make the intertwining storylines too complicated. I really enjoyed every second of this film, and it brought me back to my middle school days.
Overall, I think this movie did the original trilogy justice. Not that it was trying to in any way, but I feel as if lots of people felt offended in some way that this wasn’t a continuation of the original story.
I actually like that it wasn’t - we didn’t need anymore of that story. I think we had enough. This was refreshing, showed so much more to the Capitol that we never knew, and is still as gut clenching as the first three games.
Too many snakes, not enough birds