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The Bengal's Purr

The Bengal's Purr

Suzanne Collins creates another amazing addition to the dystopian genre
Coriolanus Snow and Lucy Gray Baird prepare for the 10th annual Hunger Games. Photo courtesy of

Wow, what a movie.

Fans of The Hunger Games series know that Suzanne Collins knows how to write a dystopian story. She can write those characters well, and because of that, her stories transfer well into movie form.

And this movie is no exception. Although this movie is a prequel, which always has the potential to fail to live up to the original series, this movie rose to the occasion.

Following the story of a younger President Snow (Tom Blyth), Coriolanus attempts to mask his secret life of poverty from his esteemed classmates who are doing much better than him. In the book, the mentor program is not a surprise; it is something the top students seek because it will increase their chances of winning the Academy Prize, including a full-ride scholarship to the University. If Coriolanus does not get the scholarship, he will not be able to have a career. The Academy Prize turns into the Plinth Prize, which automatically goes to the mentor with the winning tribute.

In the movie, however, the Academy Prize starts out as the Plinth Prize, which was meant to be awarded to the student who worked the hardest, until the mentor program is launched for the top 24 students. The Plinth Prize is said to go to the best mentor who makes a spectacle of the Games, not necessarily the winner. This is good for Coriolanus because he is assigned to the girl tribute of District 12, Lucy Gray Baird. Coriolanus does not have high expectations for this girl until he gets to know her.

And yes, they fall in love. It’s a beautifully tragic love story; an esteemed Capitol boy falls in love with an even poorer district girl. He loves her, but he loves power so much more.

One thing about this girl is that she can sing.

Music is a massive part of the plot, which is why the casting for Lucy Gray is so perfect. Rachel Zegler is the actress who plays her, and she has one of the most beautiful voices on the planet. She has played roles like Maria in West Side Story and will play Snow White in the upcoming Disney live-action film. She plays all of these roles because when she sings, it compels an audience to listen. She puts her whole soul into her performance, just like her character, Lucy Gray. This makes the story that much more profound because music is the movie’s driving force. It is what makes people want to watch the games. It’s what secures Lucy Gray’s sponsorships and essentially saves her life. Zegler is a fantastic actress, and her performance made the movie even better if that was possible.

This is not to say that Tom Blyth didn’t perform as well as Coriolanus because he did. The way he carries himself in the movie vastly differs from real life, showing his incredible acting capabilities. He can be the charming, charismatic Capitol boy and the obsessive, vaguely insane peacekeeper who loses Lucy Gray. Honestly, it was hard to see him as a villain throughout the movie because he is that good at being charming while searching for power in any way he can get it.

This movie was perfectly cast and had terrific performances from the other actors as well, such as Hunter Schaeffer, who played Tigris, Peter Dinkalge, who played Dean Casca Highbottom, Viola Davis, who played Dr. Volumina Gaul, and Josh Andres Rivera who played Sejanus Plinth.

But it’s not a perfect movie.

Watching the movie without preconceived notions from the book, some plot points are thrown in your face without giving you much time to process them. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie or hard to understand, but it seems at times that they aren’t really telling a story; they’re just recounting events, which can make a lot of people dislike a movie.

But it’s a book-to-movie adaptation. Of course, the writers aren’t able to fit every aspect of the story into a 2 1/2-hour-long movie. It just won’t happen. And many things that they had to change from the book didn’t inhibit the story at all. In fact, it made the story move smoother in movie form. Additionally, it makes a lot more sense in the movie why Lucy Gray left Coryo in the woods than in the book; actually, seeing the emotions play out on her face explains a lot more. It would have been nice to have more character depth from the other students, which would’ve helped the audience understand Coryo’s pressure and what it was like to be a Capitol student.

Even though the movie is engaging and fun to watch because of the musical score and acting performances, some of he scenes have million cuts during one conversation could’ve used something different. Of course, this is all coming from a writer, not a film director, and the movie was still super cool to watch with the sets and the production and all of the thought and easter eggs that were placed. The director still did interesting shots that gave the audience a different perspective and made the movie interesting and the audience wouldn’t get bored of the 2 hour and 40 minute movie.

Overall, the movie was terrific, and it’s precisely the prequel that people were asking for. It was interesting, exciting and just what 2023 needed. As enjoyable as the story was, it did have its faults but nothing that wasn’t overshadowed by the talented actors that were featured in the film. For these reasons, I give The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes a 4/5.

Also, read the book after watching the movie, that way, more things are revealed, and a deeper understanding of the characters is revealed.

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