On Friday, Nov. 17, the highly anticipated Hunger Games prequel had its theatrical release. In this film adaptation of the novel by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows a young Coriolanus Snow, who fans know from the original series as President Snow. The story takes place during the tenth annual Hunger Games, with Snow providing his mentorship to one of the tributes, Lucy Gray Baird from District 12. This film dives into Snow’s “villain origin story.”
After falling prey to the power of the Capitol, Snow betrays his friends, family and his tribute in order to gain status and power. For those who are fans of the original Hunger Games trilogy, there’s no question that this will inevitably fill the void of where those stories left viewers back in 2015.
Because there is so much lore surrounding The Hunger Games universe, this story provides viewers with the backstory we have been waiting for. So many questions are answered in this story, such as certain aspects of how the games started and how certain rules were formed. This prequel also provides insight into why President Snow had such a vendetta against the protagonist of the original trilogy, Katniss Everdeen.
This film is complete with a star-studded cast, including Viola Davis playing Dr. Gaul, Peter Dinklage as Casca Highbottom, and Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird. Playing Coriolanus Snow is Tom Blyth, a relative newcomer who is sure to stun the audience with his portrayal of the famous villain in this film. While all of the performances are standouts, Blyth encapsulates the journey of a character the audience knows so well at a completely different stage of life. Zegler, known mostly for her work in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story, completely knocks it out of the park as Lucy Gray Baird. Much like Lucy Gray, Zegler is a natural-born performer and steals every scene she is in.
Creating a book-to-screen adaptation that the audience will be pleased with is a task in itself, but reviews are showing the audience score is beating out the four original Hunger Games films, coming in at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, with just one point over The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Having read the prequel and now seeing the film, I can say that the story was told in the most honest way possible. While there were missed plot points and moments from the book I wish were included, there is simply no way to translate a story that is 541 pages into a 2.5-hour movie. Wherever one may stand in the debate as to whether the book is better than the film adaptation of a story, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes encapsulates the weight of the story, provides context to viewers who have not read the book, and allows the cast to discover their characters' motives and intentions.
Creating a prequel for a beloved fan base such as The Hunger Games definitely caught the attention of new and old fans alike. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ranked #1 opening weekend according to The Numbers and continues to hit record numbers in the box office. The film’s soundtrack is also gaining traction, with Oliva Rodrigo’s featured song reaching the Billboard Top 100 list according to Billboard. New and old fans of the franchise alike are able to embrace the resurgence of the books and films, and The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes could potentially become a cult classic alongside the original trilogy.
By Haileigh West, Associate Editor
Graphic by Shae-Lynn Henderson, EIC