Unblocked Games

Review of ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’: sings a pleasant familiar melody

November 19, 2023 By admin

Following the massive success of the Hunger Games trilogy’s four-film adaptation, a big-screen adaptation of author Suzanne Collins’ precursor The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes was unavoidable. But how will the young adult tale survive without Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, the rebel leader?

This new plot follows Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), the young man who grows up to become the tyrant President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland in the previous films. After a brief childhood flashback in which Snow and his sister witness a starving guy slice off the limb of a cadaver, we meet him as an 18-year-old from a wealthy household who has fallen on hard times since his father’s death. Snow, despite his low rank, is assigned to tutor one of the “tributes” for The Hunger Games, a reality show in which 24 young people compete for survival until only one survives.

These tributes are a pair of people from each of the 12 destitute districts outside the Capitol, communities that had unsuccessfully revolted in a war known to as the “dark days” 10 years ago, as in the first novels and movie set 64 years later. Snow’s District 12 homage, singer Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), has the bravado and charisma to participate in the games, but the duo must work together while occasionally violating the rules in order for her to win.

Songbirds And Snakes’ first half is comfortable and enjoyable. In their tenth year, the games lack the popularity that they will attain in the decades to come, with the conniving Dean Highbottom (played with delicious malice by Game Of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage) eager to put an end to them and Snow’s triumph. Snow and Baird’s connection is meticulously built, with a will-they, won’t-they romance blossoming. The most intriguing screen connection, however, is that of Snow and Head Gamemaker Volumnia Gaul. Gaul, as played by Viola Davis, is a dark eccentric and a really terrifying oddity even by The Hunger Games’ bleak standards.

But it’s the tense, paranoid second half of this fifth picture that elevates it to the top of the franchise. Snow is exiled to District 12 as a peacekeeper, and his sentiments for the rebels seem to oscillate. Though we all know what he’ll become, it’s fun to watch him figure out which master he should serve as he spies, lies, and betrays.

It’s unusual to see moral ambiguity handled in such a non-judgmental way, especially in a blockbuster film. We’re practically pulling for Snow as he wanders the industrial shadows. With that psychological shock and Jason Schwartzman’s amusing, strange role as Lucky Flickerman, the host of the games and likely ancestor of Caesar Flickerman, played by Stanley Tucci in the earlier films, Songbirds And Snakes appears to be unafraid of Katniss Everdeen. A great fall blockbuster adventure.