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THE NORTH STAR

The Official Student Media of Blue Valley North High School

THE NORTH STAR

The Official Student Media of Blue Valley North High School

THE NORTH STAR

A Superfan’s review of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds And Snakes

A Superfan’s review of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds And Snakes

Ten years after the first rendition of “The Hunger Games,” Suzanne Collins announced a prequel to the original series, “The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.” The story follows Coriolanus Snow, (or more commonly known as President Snow in the original books) and his attempt to climb Panem’s political ladder by mentoring Lucy Gray Baird, a girl from District 12. 

To say I was extremely excited for the movie is an understatement. I was really interested to see how everything would play out as the book is around 600 pages long, and the movie was exactly what I had hoped for and more.

 The original music sung by Rachel Zegler, who played Lucy Gray Baird and the score written and performed by James Newton Howard, who had previously scored the past four movies, were absolute standouts. They made both the characters and the movie itself so connected to the past films and the original characters without having to have any direct obvious on screen references from the past films. My personal favorite thing about the movie is definitely the score. Newton Howard constantly makes callbacks to the movies by intertwining parts of the past scores from all the old movies into the new one. The most obvious example of this is the song “Snow Lands On Top”, which the first 30 seconds sound exactly like “The Reaping” from the original film. He picked emotionally charged moments, such as Marcus’s death and paired them with Catching Fire’s “I Need You,” which completely won me over. Even though he uses parts of the old score to make the new one, Ballad of Songbirds and Snake’s has more vocalization in it, while the others were purely instrumental, which I loved. The movie makes a point to show how music is a big part of Lucy Gray’s survival and relationship with Coriolainus. The subtle vocals made the score so much more unique to the movie. Lucy Gray’s character is in a band, so there are a lot of original songs sprinkled throughout the movie, which I was honestly scared about. The line between a movie with music in it and a musical is a very easy one to cross, but the music sung by Zegler drove the plot along, and as she says in the movie, she only sang when she had something to say. For example, “The Hanging Tree,” an iconic song sung by Katniss Everdeen in the original movies, is written by Lucy Gray about her plan to flee with Snow after they’re both suspected for murder. It is known that the song is iconic, but the fact that she was the one to write it and that Katniss was singing it 64 years later during a rebellion against the man which the song was written about is such a genius move from Suzanne Collins that genuinely brings me chills. “The Ballad of Lucy Gray Baird” has been on repeat ever since the movie came out. “Nothing You Can Take From Me”, “Pure As The Driven Snow” and “The Old Therebefore” are addicting and the reason I have seen the movie in theaters several times. Overall, all the original Lucy Gray songs sung by Zegler made the movie what it is. Perfect. 

The score and music weren’t the only standouts in the film, as the casting was also outstanding. Tom Blyth, the actor who plays Snow, was the only person who could ever play young Snow. In the books, we get to read Snow’s inner monologue, and Blyth expresses that without actually saying what he’s thinking effortlessly, considering how hard showing Snow’s delusion with just facial expressions can be. The stacked cast might look like an attempt to draw audiences with the promise of the presence of Viola Davis and Peter Dinklage, but I think that every single character was casted perfectly. Hunter Schaffer already sounds and looks like someone from the Capitol. She’s majestic and gentle and her contrasting characteristics against Coriolanus’ improves both of their performances. Viola Davis and Peter Dinklage have a menacing energy to them that makes you feel uneasy every time they’re on screen. Josh Andrés Rivera highlights Sejanus’ big heart and the desire  to make change (and without knowing, rebel) perfectly and Rachel Zegler, somehow flawlessly, captures what I had imagined when reading the books and made it into an actual living person. 

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The story, taken from the book, is long compared to the other ones, but even though some might complain about the movie’s run time, around 2 hours and 45 minutes, I don’t think it could’ve been any shorter. The scenes that were cut didn’t take away from the movie’s main points, and the things that were changed such as Jessup’s rabies coming from a bat not from a rat didn’t make any noticeable differences. Some directorial choices made the movie more fun, such as how it was separated into parts: “The Mentor,” “The Prize” and “The Peacekeeper,” which are a reference to the book, the continuum of the logos at the end of every movie, where the Mockingjay slowly frees itself from the circle outline its trapped inside, and Donald Sutherland’s “It’s the things we love most, that destroy us” voiceover at the end.

This movie was something I had been looking forward to since the book came out, and it definitely surpassed my expectations and changed my rankings of the original movies, with the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes coming in at third place (Catching Fire is at number one and the original at number two). It made me feel nostalgic and borderline emotional and it’s the kind of movie I will never get tired of. An absolute 10/10.

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About the Contributor
Clara Resende, Staff Writer
Clara Resende is a senior and staff writer of “The North Star.” This is their first year on staff. They have covered student life and entertainment news. Outside of the newsroom, they enjoy watching movies and writing about them. They are excited to become a more experienced writer and get to know everyone!

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