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The Ballad Begins: 'Hunger Games' Review

By Matthew Smith - Eagle Staff Writer

"The Hunger Games", a beloved cult classic relating the journey of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) through the murderous Hunger Games, takes a new twist with a thrilling new prequel - "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes."

A promotional poster used for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Photo used under Fair Use Provision of the US Copyright Code)

Adapted from the book of the same name we get to see a glimpse of what Panem looked like earlier in the "Hunger Games" universe. In the film we see a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) on the reaping day of the 10th Annual Hunger Games seemingly about to win the prestigious Plinth Prize but in a twist of events, head of the War Department Volumina Gaul (Viola Davis) and Dean of the academy Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage) reveal that this Hunger Games is different. They will be providing the tributes with mentors from the top performing students at the Academy and the mentor with the winning tribute will win the Plinth Prize.

Snow’s tribute is the female tribute from District Twelve, Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zeglar). It is revealed he got this tribute because she was presumed the weakest and Dean Highbottom wanted to ensure Snow did not win so he gave him the weakest tribute. However, this proves not to be a handicap because Lucy Gray goes on to become the victor of the 10th Annual Hunger Games.

I had some pretty high expectations for this movie, being a big fan of "The Hunger Games" franchise and I can confidently say that my expectations were met and some were exceed. I was really impressed by this movie. The graphics were so beautiful and viewers really get an appreciation for the beauty of Panem.

Westlake Cinema was one of the local theaters to feature the film opening weekend. (Photo by Matthew Smith)

The casting in this movie was absolute perfection. One of the most impressive performances was Coriolanus Snow played by Tom Blyth. Blyth had some really big shoes to fill following the performance of the previous actor, Donald Sutherland, who played Coriolanus. But he did really well and I cannot imagine anyone else playing Snow. Lucy Gray Baird as played by Rachel Zeglar was one of my favorite characters. I felt that the actress made me become really attached to this character and her singing voice was absolutely enchanting. Every song she sang in the film was actually performed live rather than pre-recorded which really showed her emotions in each song.

One thing I really appreciated about this film is the disability representation. Disability representation is one thing the original films were criticized for because in the books many of the victors had disabilities, such as Katniss having severe hearing loss after the 74th Games, Peeta losing a leg, and Beetee being paralyzed after the war. That changed in this film. The role of Tanner was played by Kjell Brutscheidt who is missing one of his eyes, Wovey was played by Sofia Sanchez who has Down Syndrome. Other minor characters in the film are shown to have limps and similar physical injuries which helps reflect just how evil The Hunger Games are.

Overall I would one hundred percent recommend this movie. It is a beautiful story with even more beautiful scenery. I personally feel that this is one of the best movies I have ever seen in theaters. The odds are definiltey in your favor to enjoy it.

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