Leander High School's online student-run newspaper

The Roar

Leander High School's online student-run newspaper

The Roar

Leander High School's online student-run newspaper

The Roar

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May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

A “Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” Movie Review
May+the+Odds+Be+Ever+in+Your+Favor
Tristan Murillo

“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” was released exclusively in theaters on November 17, 2023. The movie follows a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), the tyrannical president of Panem and main antagonist of the original Hunger Games trilogy, as he struggles to bring back the wealth his family lost in the war against the districts 64 years before the original trilogy.  Coriolanus becomes a mentor in the 10th Annual Hunger Games and has to keep his mentee, Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), alive, both to save his family and because he is falling in love with her.

I read the book this movie is based on, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins, a few weeks before the movie was released and loved it, so I walked into the theater with high expectations. Overall, while the movie did omit many of the book’s early plotlines, it’s still an incredibly faithful adaptation.

First of all, let’s talk about the casting. Tom Blyth is incredible as a young Snow and manages to make you root for the character even while revealing exactly how he becomes the villain we see in the original trilogy. Rachel Zegler is also great, and her voice perfectly carries the lyrics of all the songs Lucy Gray sings. The chemistry between the two of them was also very clear and the eventual romance worked.

Similarly, the side characters are brilliantly casted. Peter Dinklage perfectly conveys Dean Casca Highbottom’s persona and makes you dislike his character from his first scene. Viola Davis is incredible as Dr. Volumnia Gaul and I could immediately feel the unsettling air that surrounds the character. I could go on, but really, there were very few characters that I thought could have been casted better.

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The music is also incredible. A big part of Lucy Gray’s character is her family, the Covey, a group of musicians that used to travel throughout the districts before the war. Throughout the movie, all the songs Lucy Gray sings come directly from the books. Seeing how the movie adapted these songs and created music to match them was incredibly enjoyable.

In addition, the costuming throughout the movie perfectly matched the tone of the book. Tigris’ (Hunter Schafer) outfits were incredible (despite the Snows’ lack of wealth) and reflected her future as a costumer for the Games. The suit Lucky Flickerman (Jason Schwartzman) wears while he narrates the Games also increases in detail in each of his appearances as the Games grow in popularity, and he is eventually wearing a full suit with tails. This symbolizes his increased investment in narrating the Games as a career choice to the point where the announcer during the main trilogy is likely his son.

Finally, the easter eggs dropped throughout the movie for long-time fans are incredibly satisfying. For example, when Lucy Gray writes “The Hanging Tree,” which becomes an anthem of the rebels in the trilogy, when Lucy Gray and her family dig up katniss plants to eat, calling back to Katniss Everdeen or the way nearly all the characters from the Capitol have the same last names as Capitol characters in the trilogy. Searching for these hints makes watching the movie all the more fun.

But there were some negative aspects of the movie. Like always, the book is better than the movie, and this book was nearly 200 words longer than the other books in the series. Adapting this into a movie meant cutting out a lot of plotlines from the beginning of the book. Losing all those scenes made it much harder to see how Lucy Gray and Coriolanus actually fell in love, and meant that you don’t really see how Coriolanus wasn’t a great person from the beginning. Instead, their romance, despite the leads’ chemistry, feels forced and Snow’s descent doesn’t seem nearly as inevitable as it was in the book.

And while I love that some lines came directly from the book, some lines don’t always transfer well from text to screen. Often in the beginning of the movie, those lines felt wooden. This got better as the movie went on, but some of the early lines didn’t sound believable.

Overall, I’d give this movie 8/10 stars. I’d recommend it to anyone who watched the original “Hunger Games” movies or read the books, or anyone who likes dystopian fiction. But I would say that watching the movie before reading the book makes for a better experience.

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About the Contributor
Payal Mugunda, Co-editor in chief
Payal is a senior and a third-year reporter. In addition to being a co-editor of The Roar, she is also a member of the school choir. She enjoys writing about interesting events and discoveries at school as well from around the world. She hopes to attend UT after graduation and major in physics. Her hobbies include reading anything and everything and baking.