Hunger Games

what worked (4)

The prequel to the highly-rated Hunger Games trilogy, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, has been eagerly anticipated by fans worldwide, myself included. This is because we get to perceive Coriolanus Snow before he becomes the villainous president of Panem, as shown in the original Hunger Games films. First seen on the big screen in New Zealand on the 16th of November, 2023, this film, like the others in the franchise, is based on the book by Suzanne Collins. Having read the book myself, both when it was published and after I watched the film, I noticed both the book and film were significantly alike, unlike a lot of book-to-screen adaptations.


The film is set 64 years before the first Hunger Games film with Katniss and Peeta, just ten years after the end of the war. Coriolanus Snow is an intelligent student whose family is struggling to survive. His school runs a program to be the first-ever mentors to the tributes who fight to survive in the Hunger Games. He gets assigned to District Twelve’s Lucy Gray Baird, a feisty girl who isn’t afraid to be herself. He starts to fall for her, vowing that he will help her win no matter what, which alters his life forever.

(art by Annabelle Waters)

I loved this movie. Of course, I’m a little biased as I’ve been a Hunger Games fan since the age of 12, but I genuinely believe it was a great watch. It was such a suspenseful film. It had me on the edge of the cinema seat for almost the entire 2 hours and 40 minutes. In two of the other Hunger Games movies, the Games is almost the entire movie, whereas, with The Ballad, it was just a little part of the film, with there being three main ‘chapters’ in the whole film. Although I do feel like the film could have been longer to get more in-depth about some of the storylines, particularly after The Games, as the story sometimes felt a little rushed, I think it would have put a lot of people off watching it, especially because it was already almost three hours long.


I believe Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth were the perfect casting for Lucy Gray Baird and Coriolanus Snow. They were almost exactly what the fans envisioned when they envisioned those two characters. As well as this, I was very impressed with the acting of the two and the insane chemistry they had with each other, as they weren’t very well known at the time and had never worked together before. I will admit I was a bit worried about Rachel Zegler as one of the main characters in the film because of the Snow White controversy earlier in the year, but I believe she redeemed herself with her performance of Lucy Gray Baird. I was very impressed with how Rachel played the character. Her performance of Lucy Gray tugged at my emotions; she made me sympathise with Lucy Gray while simultaneously making me want to be like her, strong, feisty, yet kind-hearted and compassionate. Rachel’s voice is also stunning, and I believe that improved Lucy Gray's performance even more. 

Tom Blyth definitely deserves to be the internet’s latest heart-throb. His execution of the role of Coriolanus Snow was incredible. The way he played Coriolanus made me like him and even support him, all the while knowing what he did in the years after the movie; this was conflicting and made me continue to think about the film days after I watched it. Tom cleverly showed the change in Coriolanus’s mindset, not subtle enough to miss easily but not obvious enough to be glaring. That takes skill, and from a practically unknown actor, he deserves the fame he’s getting. 

Of course, everyone who acted in the film was amazing. Still, I have to highlight the acting of Hunter Schafer as Tigris Snow, Viola Davis as Dr. Volumina Gaul, Peter Dinklage as Casca Highbottom, Josh Rivera as Sejanus Plinth, and Jason Schwartzman as Lucretius ‘Lucky’ Flickerman. All of these actors stole the show in each and every scene they were in, and I loved it!


Another thing I was impressed with was the special effects and cinematography. Myself, and I think most other Hunger Games fans, had very high expectations for the special effects and cinematography in this film, because, in the original films, both were done very well. And because it has been over ten years since the first film was released and technology has advanced since then, fans hoped the special effects would be even better than before. And all that hoping paid off. It certainly was not a low-budget movie. Although you could tell it wasn’t real in places, I was satisfied that it looked real for the most part. This is especially important because this film is so action-packed that all the effects must look as real as possible. I believe watching a film with bad special effects can, at times, dull the spirit of it. The cinematography, I think, added to the spirit of it as it went well with the storyline; if the characters were dancing and having fun or in danger and scared, it showed that in a way that made you feel as though you were there with them.


Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It was exciting, suspenseful, and dramatic. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the Hunger Games films/books or to anyone who likes the dystopian genre in general.