The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

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Hunger Games: The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes is still holding strong at the box office after its third week out. My daughter and I went to the theaters to see it on opening night and it felt strange. It was not us going to the movies that felt strange but the fact that we practically had the theater all to ourselves. Did people really give up on the theater experience or is this a sign of the financial times? 


I think this is another area where it is taking a while to rebound from the COVID lockdown effect. Maybe, it will never recover and people are more comfortable staying at home and watching from the comforts of their couch. Regardless, we were out there, and my daughter and I still enjoy going to the movies for a movie night. Although, I will admit, that we were elated we did not have to share the theater with a whole mess of people. 


Hunger Games: The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes was a good watch for me. My daughter enjoyed it so much that she had already been back to watch it again. I would have liked to myself but time did not allow it. If you are a fan of the Hunger Games movie franchise then I do think you will enjoy this one. My daughter liked it more than I did though so much so she gave it a nine out of ten. I thought they could have done better on the pacing. There were times when it was just a little too slow for my liking. 


The movie follows President Snow in his younger years while he is still in school trying to figure his life out, and his life is a little bit of a mess. Coriolanus Snow is essentially at the bottom of the social class rung and is fighting to maintain his family’s place in society. His opportunity comes in the form of the 10th Hunger Games and his mentee, Lucy Gray Baird. He seems sweet at first but then the story turns into his villain origin. 


The movie starred Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow aka soon-to-be President Snow, Viola Davis, Rachel Zegler, and Peter Dinklage. The acting was solid. My daughter did not like Lucy’s accent, but I did not think it strayed away from her character too much. Viola Davis as Dr. Gaul was outstanding as we have come to expect from her. Tom Blyth did a wonderful job of his portrayal of Snow. He was able to convey the subtleties of the character Snow as he navigated his conflicting emotions. It was well written even though there were times when I felt as though the story could have moved along a little faster. The setting captured the essence of the Hunger Games in showing the contrast between the haves and have-nots. It is a solid movie and since I am a fan of the franchise I gave it a pretty high ranking out of ten.


8/10 


The Lesson: Be true to who you are but be smart about it. Sometimes, it will not get the results that you think but it may get you closer to the mark and at least you can live or die with dignity. This was displayed by several of the characters who were able to move on through the difficult times by relying on knowing who they really were. Snow at the beginning was conflicted because he was trying to be two different people. He turned out to be the monster we love to hate but was also at peace with it. At the end of the day, our peace of mind starts with knowing our true selves. 



SPOILERS

The Hunger Games arena is small and open and lacking all the bells and whistles and advanced technology we have become accustomed to. However, it was still ruthless and terrifying. It was interesting to see the earlier version in comparison to what we have seen in the first four movies. It was like getting a peak behind the veil of how the Hunger Games came to be what it is in modern times. After the tributes enter the arena, the killings are still viscous and Snow is determined to save his mentee for his future, also adding that he seems to have developed feelings for her. The only problem is that he kind of cheats to get her the win because Gaul does not play fair. After the death of one of the capital kids who was attacked earlier and spent most of the film in the hospital, Gaul releases her killer snakes into the arena which no one should have been able to survive. I do think he should not have been punished for that though. Snow’s life was spared but he was sent away to serve a 20-year sentence as a Peacekeeper in the district by Highbottom. He got himself switched to District 12 because that’s where Lucy was from and he wanted to find her again. 

 

Sejanus joins him as a Peacekeeper volunteer. Snow does eventually link back up with Lucy and for a very brief time things seem good between them Sejanus cannot seem to stay out of trouble by trying to help the locals but gets himself into a sticky situation in which people end up dying. One of them is accidentally killed by Snow. He also ends up betraying Sejanus by sending back a mocking jay with details of his Sejanus’ activities. This is when we get confirmation that Snow is selfish beyond measure because he does not have to reveal anything about what Sejanus was doing. Sejanus end up getting caught and is killed and Snow plans to run off with Lucy because ultimately he feels that the evidence implicating his involvement in the altercation will come out and he will get caught. Lucy realizes this and runs off without him. Snow gets rid of the evidence and eventually ends up back in the capital studying under Gaul. Before he proceeds with his studies though, he kills off Highbottom, solidifying his role as a villain. 


Dr. Gaul played by Viola Davis was my favorite character to hate. Actually, I did not even hate her. I just accepted Dr. Gaul for the despicable, messed-up human being that she was. Viola Davis played the cooky, weird doctor well. She was diabolical in every way, and it hit home because she just did not care about people’s lives. As long as you were a useful tool you were temporarily safe. I think she recognized the same sinister mindset in Snow even though he at some point was attempting to be a better person but in the end, he proved to be just the perfect student she was looking for. 


Pliny Harrington played by Ayomide Adegun was a G. I have no other way to describe him. During the actual Hunger Games, you thought he was going to be out there just killing everyone because he was definitely capable but he stayed out of sight and focused on protecting his teammate. Then he came out and lined the bodies to give them somewhat of a proper goodbye. Everything about him displayed a quiet power and dignity.


Lucy Gray Baird played by Rachel Zegler was a smart cookie but I do feel she was dealt a bad hand. She was simply trying to make a way out of life when she got tossed into the mayhem of the Hunger Games. Fortunately for her, she had survival instincts and, probably because of her performance background, knew how to play people. This earned her some points but not enough to win without Snow’s help. I think he loved her as much as he could love someone else and that was pretty fickle. She was wise enough to realize that towards the end and escape him. My daughter did not care for her much because she found her accent to be annoying. I get that but I think it grew on me to the point I was able to ignore it. 


Sejanus Plinth played by Josh Andres Rivera was just a pathetic fool. I mean he was useless. I get wanting to be a good person and do what’s right but good Lord, you have to be smart about it and he was just a fool. If it weren’t for his father’s clout that boy would have been dead a long time ago. When he went to the Hunger Games arena, I was over him. Dr. Gaul sent Snow in to get him and that was when we got to see a glimpse of the Snow we have known in the first few Hunger Games because the way he killed that boy before escaping with Sejanus was unnecessarily brutal. After all, he was already down and they would have made it out. 


Later Sejanus falls into another ridiculous situation when he tries to help the citizens of District 12 escape. Unfortunately, because he was an idiot he ended up getting caught and hanged. Of course, he would have died earlier if Snow hadn’t stopped him from trying to intervene with the Peacekeepers “peacekeeping” activities earlier in the movie. I am not saying what he wanted to do wasn’t commendable but the guy was not very bright because he was completely let by his emotions to the point when he did not think before he acted. I am guessing that could be attributed to his father always being able to save him from total disaster in some shape or form. He had not had the chance to learn true consequences which led to his ultimate death. 


Casca Highbottom played by Peter Dinklage was a trooper. He paralleled Plutarch Heavens from the Hunger Games: Mockingjay movies in that they both secretly hated the Hunger Games and wanted to stop it. Dinklage even more so because it was his idea that sparked the fire for it to start in the first place. He spent the better part of the first ten years of its inception trying to undermine and destroy the Hunger Games. It was almost going to happen too until Snow started coming up with ideas to make the games more attractive to the audience thereby saving it. In the end, Dinklage lost his life to the Snow that we all know. A younger version but still ruthless. 


Coriolanus Snow was never a good guy. He just hadn’t grown into his evilness yet at the beginning of the movie. Even when he appeared to be helping for altruistic reasons, he was only looking out for himself and getting his family out of the poor situations they were in. He cares about his status and station more than anything else. It’s no wonder because his father was equally as evil and his grandmother was a fascist classist shrew. Lioness, who I enjoyed learning more about, appeared to be the only one with a pure heart. She kept on trying to keep him in the light but, in his heart, Snow was not all about that. He was practically and his practicality led him to be just like his grandmother and father and everyone else in the capitol.


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