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The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

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“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” (Movie Review)

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Paul Tointigh
Christian Booth is excited to see “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” during its opening weekend.

I grew up watching “The Hunger Games” and found myself falling in love with the franchise. It was only natural when the news was announced that Susanne Collins’ “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” was being adapted into a movie, I became very excited to see it. Waiting months for the release weekend, I found myself in the movie theater ready to see this prequel to the original series.

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” was released Friday, Nov. 17 and made $5.75 million from Thursday night previews alone. The film was directed by Francis Lawerence and produced by Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson, with music by James Newton Howard (who produced the score for the original series). The runtime is 157 minutes.

The movie follows a young Coriolanus Snow (played by Tom Blyth) during the events of the 10th annual Hunger Games. Snow is a mentor for that year’s Hunger Games, and is tasked in mentoring Lucy Grey Baird (played by Rachel Zegler), the female tribute from District 12.

The events of this movie take place not too long after the Dark Days, the war between the Capitol and the Districts that set the Hunger Games into motion (We even get a glimpse of the war itself during the opening scene). We see the country of Panem rebuilding, and the gamemakers of the Hunger Games trying to get more people to watch them. We see Snow as he descends down the path of power, and during the movie he learns things and commits acts that will stay with him for the rest of his life. This film does a great job at giving us the backstory of the future President of Panem and the dictator that Snow would eventually become.

Going into the movie, I kept the fact that film adaptations of books can vary wildly in their accuracy to their source material (the Harry Potter series is a great example of this, in my opinion). However, the film kept portraying events from the book time and time again in an accurate manner. I was very surprised as the film seemed to take the book out of my mind and put it onto the big screen. I can tell a lot of care was taken in portraying pages onto the screen.

I loved the attention to details in this film. Taking place 64 years before the events of the original series, the technology was portrayed as much older, reminiscent of an early 20th century level of technology in a futuristic dystopian setting. It adds a sense of real-world progression to the country of Panem, as during the events of the original series, technology is much more advanced and surpasses what we have now.

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” offers foreshadowing, parallels, and references to the original series that takes an attention to detail to notice. Grey’s entire character is a parallel and foreshadowing of Katniss, even offering the same bow during her reaping that Katniss gives to the gamemakers in the original series. The announcer for the games is a possible ancestor of the announcer during the original series, with the same funny attitude offering a sort of comic relief while the violence of the games occurs. The detail goes down to the last name of characters that fans of the original series might recognize, such as “Crane” and “Heavensbee.” In one scene, Grey picks a katniss plant (more commonly called an arrow-head) as a nod to the protagonist of the original series.

Just as the original series does, we as the audience question the morality of Panem and the hosting of death games in which children participate. We see the brutality of a dystopian, totalitarian dictatorship as a warning of what our society could become if we allow ourselves to go down that path. Hope was a theme of the original series, but this film does away with that theme in exchange for a darker tone of a capitol boy turned future dictator.

While the film receives mixed reviews from critics during its opening weekend, I enjoyed the film immensely. I appreciate that it was so accurate to the source material, and I loved seeing how the country of Panem looked before the events of the original series. I would highly recommend this film for anyone who is a fan of The Hunger Games franchise. The odds are in favor of this movie.

 

Paul Tointigh is a fourth-year communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

Ray Thomas-Lapham
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About the Contributor
Paul Tointigh, Senior Writer
Paul is a fourth-year communication major, having obtained his associate’s degree in Arts from Redlands Community College. Paul transferred to USAO and became a member of The Trend in the fall of 2022. He recently began a job at Viridian and is an active member of the BCM, serving on the leadership team. When he isn’t attending to his many duties, Paul can be found at the gym, attending campus ministries, or spending time playing his guitar. Experience with The Trend: Senior Writer: Jan. 2024 - present Managing Editor: Dec. 2022 - Dec. 2023 Contributing Writer: Aug. 2022 - Dec. 2022