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| 20 November 2023 | Reply

Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring Rachel Zegler, Tom Blyth, Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage
Reviewed by Tia Pinnegar

The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes (from here on referred to as TBOSAS) is the fifth movie in the Hunger Games series. This prequel is set 64 years before our beloved Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are reaped for the 74th annual Hunger Games.

Rachel Zegler stars as Lucy Grey Baird, the District 12 tribute for the games, with Tom Blyth appearing as a young Coriolanus Snow (the character made famous by Donald Sutherland in the original movies), and they share an amazing chemistry on screen. Together, they and director Francis Lawrence serve the franchise’s fans well with this stunning prequel featuring beautiful cinematography and on point casting.

TBOSAS shows how barbaric the games began as, highlighting that Katniss & Peeta’s games decades later were – for lack of a better word – nicer, despite still being bloody and brutal affairs. Zegler has stated that she feels her character Lucy “is a performer forced to fight, and Katniss is a fighter forced to perform.”

Fans will recall in the original films that each District’s tributes have distinguishable character traits, and TBOSAS emphasises these traits, juxtaposing each District against each other. The lineage of familiar characters are also highlighted here – Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci in the originals) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are represented here by ancestors Lucky Flickerman (Jason Schwartzman) and Hilarious Heavensbee (Florian Burgkart).

Both lead actors shine brilliantly in TBOSAS, and fans will undoubtedly be keen to see Zegler’s live action Snow White due in 2025. They are supported by the stunning prime time Emmy Award winners Viola Davis as Dr Volumnia Gaul and Peter Dinklage as Dean Casca Highbottom, who both deliver chilling performances.

The film follows Snow as he attempts to find his way in the Capitol years after his father is killed. In an attempt to increase viewers of The Games across the state of Panem, mentors are introduced to the game – Snow being one of them. In these new rules, each tribute gets their own mentor, and each have a goal: the tribute to win The Games, and the mentor to win the Plinth prize. Snow, however, struggles to stay within the rules of the games and begins to go to unspeakable lengths to save his tribute as he develops feelings for her.

Under the direction of Lawrence (also the director of the original movies), TBOSAS really tells a story that not only informs us about the past, but also serves to redefine the characters we know and love from the original movie series.

Many of us have a special place in our heart for The Hunger Games universe that has been laying dormant since the fourth instalment was released in 2015, and The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes (the book was released in 2020) is the perfect awakening – a beautiful and vicious story which is a must see for fans and newcomers alike.


Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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