I really wanted to come on here and shout how much I loved the prequel story for The Hunger Games, one of my all-time favourite series. But unfortunately, things are not quite what I hoped.
I remember buying the UK exclusive collector’s edition book in hardback when it came out in 2020. I remember how excited I was to read the origin story of the worst villain from my favourite series. I did not end up reading it until about a month ago when I was getting ready to watch the movie. And it was a bit of a disappointment. I couldn’t really feel much emotion for any of the characters and both the book and the movie were longer than needed, in my humble opinion.
If you’re not familiar with The Hunger Games books or the movies, don’t worry. You will still be able to watch The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, although I wouldn’t really recommend you reading the book (unless you’re a die-hard fan which is the same trap I fell into). The book doesn’t really add anything to the original story. I recommend the original trilogy and movies, though.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the origin story of Coriolanus Snow (played by Tom Blyth, who did a great job with this role), a young boy that grew up through the war and every bad thing that war brings with it – famine, death, destruction, survival. He is now a teenager that comes from one of the biggest families of the Capitol, the Snow family, and is forced to become a mentor in the 10th edition of The Hunger Games. His living situation is the drive that he needs to do anything possible and impossible to help his tribute win the games.
He falls in love with Lucy Gray Baird (played by Rachel Zegler – what an amazing singing voice!), the girl tribute from District 12. Between being her mentor and trying to figure out the feelings he starts having for Lucy Gray, between the bad and the good or the posibility of good, Coriolanus Snow makes the only best decisions that he can think of for his own survival – “Snow always lands on top.”
The movie was directed by Francis Lawrence, it has a 2 hours and 40 minutes runtime, and what my favourite thing about it was the way the storyline shows how war and an extreme regime can transform people into monsters, how dangerous this way of living can be.
I appreciated that the script did not make Coriolanus and Lucy Gray kiss before the start of the games, like it happens in the book, because it would’ve been so rushed and too much. As for any other differences between the book and the movie, I don’t really have a lot to add, they kept all the key scenes and made it work with the material wrote by Suzanne Collins.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is now in cinemas.