As someone who was once obsessed with “The Hunger Games” trilogy back in 2012, I was beyond thrilled to learn about the film adaptation of “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”. Due to this, I was proudly in attendance at the AMC theater on its opening night with a large bucket of popcorn in hand and a cheesy smile on my face.
Suzanne Collins originally published the series’ prequel in 2020, sharing President Snow’s origin story starting at the tenth Hunger Games. We see how the once empathic boy turns into a hateful man after he is forced to work as a mentor in the annual bloodbath in order to win a grand prize that could potentially pay for university.
In working to win the fund, he coincidentally falls in love with his tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird, and attempts to do everything in his power to make her the victor.
I will admit, I was skeptical going into the theater. I had recently read the novel for my book club and wasn’t in love with it. The written story was over 500 pages and as a result, felt incredibly slow. I also had a hard time connecting to the characters when they were only in my hands.
After watching the new film, however, I was absolutely blown away—and surprisingly found myself ranking the prequel movie close to “Catching Fire” and the original “Hunger Games” story.
The performances were nothing short of fantastic. I went in with reservations about Rachel Zegler due to the recent Snow White controversies but quickly understood why she got booked for the role in this film. Tom Blyth, who played young Snow, was as equally as incredible.
I think it’s safe to say that the fan favorite was Lucretius Flickerman (Jason Schwartzman), the game’s host, as he served as the comedic relief in what is supposed to be an incredibly disturbing premise. Every one of his lines has the crowd chuckling amidst a highly anticipated scene.
I also just loved and appreciated the diverse casting. It seemed so refreshing to see a mix of everything, from various genders to ethnicities and even actors with different abilities.
As for technical aspects, the soundtrack was beautiful, the cinematography was stunning and the costumes were incredibly fitting. I genuinely could not spot any red flags.
The story itself was also flawless in my eyes. The structure of the film was separated into three different blocks, each with its own exposition, climax and resolution—which I believed to be the reason for its quick and seamless pacing. By the end of the two-and-a-half-hour-long film, I was shocked that the time seemed to fly by that fast.
There were so many parallels to the original series that made it fun to pick out and connect, and although most fans have a hard time watching prequels because the main characters that we fell in love with a decade prior aren’t there, I can assure everyone that you will fall just as hard for the new cast.
While I usually just wait for movies to come out on streaming to go back for a second watch, I find myself becoming more and more tempted to drive back over to the AMC for another incredible watching experience. And probably will.