The smash Hunger Games franchise returns with “The Hunger Games: The
Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes” which gives audiences a look at the early days of the games when there was general apathy towards them and their
future was very much in question.
Based on the novel of the same name; the film is set sixty-four years before the original series and follows young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth)
who in his pre-presidential form is an ambitious young cadet eager to restore his family name following a series of hardships after the war.
Snow lives with his Grandmother and Cousin Tigris (Hunter Schafer), and goes to great lengths to hide his financial hardships from his professors
and fellow classmates. His friend Sejanus (Josh Andres Rivera), is a son of District 2 whose father has become wealthy but is disdained due to their buying their way into the Capitol.
Snow is convinced that Professor Highbottom (Peter Dinklage), despises him but is convinced he will win an academic prize that will allow him and his
family the financial security that they need.
When it is learned that there will not be a prize but that the students will be assigned to mentor a Tribute in the upcoming 10th Hunger Games and that the prize will be awarded based on how well they do as mentors, Snow
eagerly sees this as an opportunity.
Snow is assigned a Tribute from District 12 named Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Ziegler), who is selected after being set up by a jealous rival,.
Defiant from the start; Lucy captivates the televised audience with her singing voice and Snow looks at her as his chance to get ahead.
As he mentors Lucy and finds himself drawn to her; the line between his job and his feelings becomes blurry as he navigates conflicting emotions to
prepare her to fight in the arena,
There is general apathy to the games and desperate to drive viewers up, Gamesmaker Gaul (Viola Davis), looks to drum up interest in what she and
her cruel personal see as a necessary way to keep the social order and remind the Districts of the cost of defiance.
The story cleverly does not focus on the games as the climax of the film but rather a turning point as the aftermath sees Snow assigned as a Peacekeeper where he begins to build a relationship with Lucy.
What follows is a compelling look at the social and political complexity of Panem but one that does so with the connections between the characters
and is captivating from start to finish.
When I read the book I spent most of it wondering how a person who seemed so decent could become the evil President Snow from the original series
and the film does a great job of capturing the book and showing how circumstances can change and twist a person with noble intentions and that surviving Panem is not just for those in the arena and districts as the
political games can be just as deadly.
With a great cast and performances all around and a compelling story; I hope we will get another tale of Panem in the near future.
4.5 stars out of 5