The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes : Our review !
“It is the things we love the most that destroy us.” This Wednesday November 15 marks the long-awaited return of the famous “Hunger Games” saga to the cinema. Even if we don’t get to see Katniss again, we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves once more in this universe, and we’re happy to take it. Here’s our review.
The film is adapted from the novel “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes“, published in 2020 and written by Suzanne Collins. It is a prequel, the story taking place sixty-four years before the original trilogy. We follow the youth of Coriolanus Snow, who becomes the cruel President Snow and one of the saga’s main antagonists. Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) is a young man from a family that was once influential in the Capitol, but fell during the war with the districts. He, his grandmother and his cousin Tigris (Hunter Schafer) are counting on a prize offered by the academy where the young man studies, rewarding his excellent academic results. But this year the rules have changed : to win the famous prize, students must become mentors to the tributes for the Hunger Games. Coriolanus is given the task of mentoring Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), who comes from the most wretched of districts, the Twelve. Coriolanus is determined to help his protégée to win, whatever the cost…
Francis Lawrence is the director of this new opus. He was also responsible for the three previous films. We follow the development of the villain, the young Snow. Although we’re well aware of how his destiny will unfold, we’re nonetheless drawn in and feel sympathy for the character as we learn more about him. We’re not so much interested in “why” he became a villain as in “how”, which is quite original. This change of perspective is intriguing, and opens up a number of narrative opportunities that allow for many changes from the first opuses. “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” may seem a little repetitive after four films, but it brilliantly sets itself apart from its predecessors. The perfect example is the character of Lucy Gray, who is described by the director himself as an “anti-Katniss”, even though both find themselves in a similar situation. For fans who have read the book, this is a successful adaptation, although of course a few details had to be omitted from the final work. However, the main themes are still present, such as the criticism of the entertainment society, and information on the creation of the first games.
What’s more, the film has a solid cast of talented young actors, joined by Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) and Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder). Tom Blyth delivers a fine performance as the complex character Coriolanus Snow, and Rachel Zegler brings Lucy Gray to life perfectly, thanks to the songs she herself sings. The weakest point is surely the ending, which literally leaves you wanting more. Indeed, it’s not easy to squeeze five hundred pages into a 2h40 minute film, and it seems to end a little abruptly. It’s a story that perhaps deserved to be split into two parts, like the final volume of The Hunger Games.
In conclusion, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is a film that will delight fans of the saga, who will find many parallels with the originals, without feeling overwhelmed. The story is well-crafted, with plenty of action and engaging characters. A must-see prequel!