Tuesday, November 14, 2023

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes - Movie Review

The Movie: The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Director: Francis Lawrence

The Cast: Tom Blyth, Rachel Zegler, Peter Dinklage, Hunter Schafer, Josh Andrés Rivera, Viola Davis

The Story: Coriolanus Snow mentors and develops feelings for the female District 12 tribute during the 10th Hunger Games.

The Review:
The Hunger Games, which featued the rise of mega star Jennifer Lawrence to the top of Hollywood ranks, was a super successful franchise that featured a compelling love story with a political backdrop that posed a lot of questions about humanity, democracy, and what our actual future might hold. Returning to this world would no doubt be a tall order and especially when digging into the history of the story and all the things that led up to what we saw in the intial installments.

Suzanne Collins, the author of the book series the movies are based on, chose to give us a look at the early life of Coriolanus Snow who was the antagonist of her first novel trilogy (the third was split into two movies). Telling a backstory can always be difficult because the creators have to stick within certain parameters because the audience mostly already knows how things will play out while also creating something new and compelling.

Director Francis Lawrence, who helmed the second, third, and fourth installments of the series, once again takes the reigns along with cinematographer Jo Willems. The duo created a very strong and distinct look for their films and that carries over into this new installment. There are so many beautiful shots with all the dramatic, hero style lighting you could ever ask for and everything looks polished but without being obvious CGI which is impressive because a large portion of the film had to be very CGI heavy.

The story overall is solid as a reverse engineered origin story for the man who would become President Snow although I did feel like it dragged on a bit too long and most of the events that happen after the actual Hunger Games tournament seem a bit anticlimactic. I would have preferred the movie to finish with the games and then pick up the rest as the first act of a second movie which could then build from there. Tom Blyth was good in the lead role although I didn't really feel a great chemistry between his character and Rachel Zegler's Lucy Gray Baird character.

With a love story that is more fizzle than sizzle, the movie really needed to hit a home run elsewhere and, for the most part it did, especially when you have people like Viola Davis and Peter Dinklage on board. Each of them are really fantastic in their roles and they do a great job of setting things up for possible future installments as well. Oh, and I also have to mention Hunter Schafer who looks absolutely stunning in the movie and takes full advantage of the limited amount of time she has on screen. I really hope she gets to come back to this world, I'd really like to see even more of Tigris Snow.

The Verdict:
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a good movie that falls just short of great thanks to an overly long run time and a lackluster love story. Otherwise, this movie is definitely worth a look and I feel like franchise fans will be all in with this deep dive into Coriolanus Snow's early rise to power.

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