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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ might top the charts for 2023

Coriolanus+Snow%2C+played+by+Tom+Blyth%2C+and+Rachel+Zegler%2C+played+by+Lucy+Gray+Baird+in+a+scene+from+The+Hunger+Games%3A+The+Ballad+of+Songbirds+and+Snakes.++
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Coriolanus Snow, played by Tom Blyth, and Rachel Zegler, played by Lucy Gray Baird in a scene from “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.”

Released 11 years after the first “Hunger Games” film, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” came to theaters Nov. 17, bringining life back to cinema in a wildly entertaining and emotional film.

Set 64 years before Katniss volunteered as tribute, the film centers around a young Coriolanus Snow during his time at the academy. Poverty stricken and ambitious, the only way Snow can win money for himself and his family is by mentoring a tribute and turning them into a spectacle to draw more people into watch the Hunger Games. When Snow is assigned the odd Lucy Gray Baird from District 12, he begins to fall for her.

Prequels are often hard to nail, but “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” was extremely well done. The audience is taken through the humble beginnings of the Hunger Games and how Snow was integral in turning them into the spectacle seen in the original trilogy.

The story develops slowly and meticulously in the way it portrays Snow’s turn from an innocent boy to the cold, ruthless dictator we all know and hate. Slowly but surely, the viewer watches as small cracks begin to appear in Snow’s “innocent” nature, until the near-end of the film, where he completely snaps.

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The cinematography heavily underscored this transition, framing Snow in low-angle shots throughout the film to make him look towering and threatening. Every element of every shot seemed to be carefully placed to cue the audience in for what was to come.

However, this transition from good to evil would not have been nearly as effective without Tom Blyth playing Snow. His acting is truly phenomenal in the ways he is able to make the audience fall in love with the character but then turn on a dime. He expertly balances Snow’s internal conflict between love and power, showing off his acting range with astonishing vigor.

Blyth’s counterpart acted equally as strong, as Lucy Gray, played by Rachel Zegler, perfectly complemented Blyth’s Snow. Zegler proves herself to be one of Hollywood’s best new starlets as she shows the complicated nature of Gray — sweet but extremely cunning. As with Snow, it is always hard to tell Lucy Gray’s true intentions, a trait that Zegler plays masterfully. This is especially important in the film’s open-ended ending, where Zegler’s choice of acting keeps the audience on their toes, wondering what she really meant.

Not only was Zegler’s acting incredible, but her sublime singing truly made this film memorable. Lucy Gray is a country singer, and she has plenty of songs throughout the course of the film. Normally, so much singing would feel out of place, but with Zegler’s entrancing voice combined with her stellar acting, each of her performances give the viewer goosebumps.

Zegler’s singing wasn’t the only noteworthy music in the film, though. The score of the film was one of the best I’ve seen in years. Every scene was underscored perfectly, and the music was used as a brilliant tool in building tension, making the film truly feel epic.

This film blew me away in every way possible. Lately, movies lately have not been the greatest, but “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” brought true cinema back to theaters. The nearly three-hour runtime felt like nothing, and this film will have audiences begging for more.

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” could easily take the title of the best film of 2023 and rightfully so. This film tops my list for the best “Hunger Games” film, and might just be one of my favorite movies of all time.

“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is available to watch in theaters now.

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