A&E Review

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Does Not Make a Melody: Movie Review

I would like to specify that before I dive into my honest opinion of the film, I have not read “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” book. I am solely judging based on the film and having no comparison to the book itself. 

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is a prequel to the original books and movies we all know as “The Hunger Games.” The film goes through the life of teenager Coriolanus Snow years before he becomes president of Panem in the original series. He becomes a mentor for the District 12 female tribute Lucy Gray Baird, whose unique alliance toward each other, turns into a twisted romance. Snow’s true character is revealed at the end of the film where he becomes purely cynical, leading him to losing all of the people that once cared about him. None of that matters though, because he gets what he wants and moves up in power in the end.

I was in middle school when I first read the trilogy of “The Hunger Games,” which was passed down by my older brother. My love for the books grew into an obsession that was fueled even more after watching all of the movies. I was the preteen, along with many others, who braided my hair to the side and wore all black to try to resemble Katniss in the best ways I knew how at twelve years old. I wanted to be just like her. I was ecstatic to watch the final movie, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2,” in theaters and sobbed when my favorite characters died in it.

I sobbed watching Peeta and Katniss get the sweet ending they deserved (I am die hard team Peeta). And I never cry at movies. To this day, those films still bring me comfort and are my go-to movies to watch whenever I’m on an airplane.

I watched “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” over Thanksgiving break and thought it was fine. I didn’t have extremely high hopes going into it because, as much as I love the idea of a prequel, I knew that it would be incomparable to the original films. Nothing can outdo the originals.

I didn’t hate it, but to say I really enjoyed it would be a lie. Have you ever watched a movie that you loved so much, and were so invested that you didn’t even realize how fast time flew by because every single part of it was worth watching? This movie was not one of those movies. It felt too long. I thought that there were multiple scenes that could have been cut, and I found myself questioning when it would finally end during the last half. 

The constant singing was excessive. My 11 year-old cousin who I went to see the movie with described it in his words as “pretty cringe.” I’m going to side with him on this one. Granted, like I mentioned before, I haven’t read the book but I gathered that singing was just part of her character and who she is. I found it to be annoying and unnecessary with how much she sang. Rachel Zegler has a beautiful voice and I am in no way dissing her talents when it comes to singing and acting. I just felt like someone who was selected to compete in “The Hunger Games,” and had a very slim chance of surviving, wouldn’t feel the need to sing as much as she did throughout the movie. 

I never liked Snow’s character, because it is hard to like a character you already know is the villain and who you already despise. No matter how much the film tries to get the audience to sympathize with him for being the underdog in the beginning of the film, I was praying for his downfall. The film tried to get you to root for him, but it is hard to have any appeal to him after watching the original series and knowing that he is just an evil, conniving human being.

I didn’t feel any genuine appeal to any of the characters because there were just so many. It was hard for me to keep track of all of them and how they were tied to each other. They were all irritating in their own ways at one point or another. 

The romance between Lucy Gray and Snow was extremely rushed. I feel like his need for her to survive and win the games was not because he loved her, but because he wanted her to win for himself with the reward he would get in return. Classic Snow. The fact that she liked him in the first place was questionable. I didn’t get the attraction toward him at all. Their relationship felt forced in the beginning leading up to the actual games, like they didn’t even know each other aside from small interactions they had. 

There were aspects of the film that I did like. I thought the cinematography was beautiful, the acting was well-done and the casting was spot-on. It was definitely not what I expected in certain situations and it alluded to “the future” for Snow’s character now that we all know what happens after. Would I go see it again? Probably not, I feel no need or desire to. But the film has received a lot of positive feedback and attention, so I recommend all avid “Hunger Games” fans to watch and see what they think of it for themselves.