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A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – A Must Watch Prequel!

A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes - A Must Watch Prequel!
Lionsgate Films

Over ten years ago, the movie “The Hunger Games” was released in theaters and took the world by storm. The series first gained traction in 2008 when the first book was released by author Suzanne Collins, and fans quickly fell in love with the world of Panem and its characters. Though I read the books many years ago and don’t remember much, I would argue that the movies are some of the best book-to-movie adaptations ever, and the new movie “A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is no different.
Because “A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” came out in 2020 (ten years after the last Hunger Games book was released) I didn’t have very high hopes and never read the book. However, when it was announced that there would be a movie, I was very excited for it. I still hadn’t read the book, but I did enough research online to understand the basics of the book. “Ballad” is set 64 years before the original trilogy, making it the 10th annual Hunger Games. It follows a young President Snow and Lucy Gray Baird, the first District 12 tribute. Snow is Lucy’s “mentor,” which means his job is to try to help Lucy win the games. If he succeeds in this, he will win a sum of money that will help his family and their living conditions.
One thing I loved about this movie is the characters. One of the main characters, Lucy Gray Baird, is from District 12 and has a very wild personality. We don’t get a long look into her past, but all we know is that she traveled around Panem with her family and sang songs for people. Our first look into Lucy is when her name is called to go into the games, and how she responds to that. Because of her actions, it gives us a first look into her personality and how brave and strong-willed she is. She sticks beside the people she loves and would stop at nothing to keep them safe.
We get a lot of insight about President Coriolanus Snow and who he is, which we never got in the original movies/books. We knew that he was obviously a very powerful man, and went to any lengths to destroy Katniss and the districts from rebelling again. Speaking of the rebellion, we only see a little bit of it in “Ballad,” but that was enough for me. The movie starts out with a young Snow trying to survive throughout the rebellion, and the sacrifices and steps he has to take to survive it. From the time he was very little to an adult, Snow lived in a run down apartment, and constantly struggled to pay rent. This gives us an insight on why he is so afraid of another rebellion, because he knows how easy it is to lose everything over again.
This gives Coriolanus a lot of complexity in the movie, because all he really wants is to win the prize of money for his family, but he quickly becomes entangled with Lucy. His relationship with Lucy eventually grows, which causes Coriolanus to make a lot of sacrifices. For the first half of the movie, he seems fine making these sacrifices, but they quickly morph into feelings of resentment towards Lucy. Lucy is strong willed and carefree, while Coriolanus is strong willed and very much not carefree. He will stop at nothing to become powerful, while Lucy is content to stay on the sidelines living her peaceful and free life. Throughout the movie we see firsthand how these two characters contradict each other, and the dynamic they share with each other.
Another aspect I liked was the format of the movie. In both “Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire,” both movies are half leading up to the games, and then the second half is the actual games. Whereas in “Ballad,” the games take place a third of the way through, and then after the games there is still a lot of the movie left, which I enjoyed more than the other format of the first two movies. In my opinion, it gives the watchers a bigger understanding of the characters. We have more time with them, and get to see how their relationship alters and changes as time goes on, which we didn’t get in the original movies.
One thing I noticed throughout the movie is how different it felt than the other movies. Of course this was expected, because it is set 6 decades before the others, but it didn’t exactly have the same feel that I get when watching the first “Hunger Games.” The style of recording is a lot different, which I chalked up to the fact that it was filmed a long time ago, and with new technology and style, “Ballad” was clearly better in that aspect. However, during the games part of the movie, it felt quite different. In “Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire,” we see two different arenas which are very big and expansive, making the tributes run around and try to survive on their own. Whereas in “Ballad,” the Hunger Games were still a newish thing in Panem, so the arena they had has always been the same boring cement building. There are aspects of it that make the movie more interesting, but I was still disappointed with the arena and almost felt like it was a lack of creativity.
All in all, I still think that “A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is a must-watch movie and can be interesting for anyone to watch. Whether you have seen the original movies, read all the books, or are new to the world of Panem, it can be enjoyable for all types of viewers, with a solid four Spartan heads.

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