(Photo courtesy of: DigitalSpy) “Rachel Zegler shines as Lucy Gray in ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.'”
The Hunger Games franchise rewinds time to bring a new story to the big screen. The highly anticipated prequel, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” has been on the radar for many Hunger Games fans since the release of the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins in 2020.
“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” follows the story of 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow as a mentor in the tenth annual Hunger Games—64 years before Katniss Everdeen was first reaped for her games. Coriolanus Snow is assigned to the District 12 tribute, Lucy Gray Baird, who quickly captivates the citizens of Panem with her singing.
With the return of director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson, the hopes for an excellent execution of the book-to-screen adaptation were high. From the beautiful cinematography to the phenomenal performances, “Songbirds and Snakes” succeeds in giving fans a fantastic fifth “Hunger Games” movie.
Lead actors Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow and Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray each put on an outstanding performance, fully embodying their characters. Zegler performs a number of ballads throughout the film. Lawrence had Zegler perform each of these songs live on set, giving each performance authenticity. When Lucy Gray is on stage with her fellow covey members, the audience is transported into the crowd.
Despite Blyth and Zegler each having amazing individual performances, the two seemed to lack on-screen chemistry. However, this may be due to the time constraint of the film. The audience does not get to see the two love birds’ full dynamic and arch with a limited run-time. This damages Blyth and Zegler’s chemistry on-screen.
Smaller roles like Hunter Schafer as Tigris Snow, Josh Andres Rivera as Sejanus and Viola Davis as Dr. Gaul are just as exceptional as the lead performances. The filmmakers hit the nail on the head with all of their casting decisions.
The filmmakers do a great job of transporting the audience back to the Capital of Panem while staying true to the setting of “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.” The Capital features are recognizable yet have a distinct appearance that makes it unique due to its composition, lighting and color. The color palette used throughout the film is not only aesthetically pleasing but aids in amplifying emotion and ambiance for viewers.
The creative decision to break the movie into three parts—staying true to the novel—helped the movie flow naturally. The plot does not drag but is not rushed either. The filmmakers found a perfect balance. Between the main plot and the subplots, nothing is left unsaid. Anything that was started was followed through to an end. This leaves no room for confusion with the audience.
“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is a wonderful exploration of Coriolanus Snow’s background and character. Lawrence and Jacobson have continued their successful streak of hitting the mark with “The Hunger Games” films.
Overall Grade: A