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West Signals

The School Newspaper of West High School

West Signals

The School Newspaper of West High School

West Signals

Snow Lands On Top

The phrase “May the odds be ever in your favor” is one of the most well-known Hunger Games sayings, and in the original movies became a means of mocking the Capitol, like depicted above.
Art/Photo by Alexandra Arnold
The phrase “May the odds be ever in your favor” is one of the most well-known Hunger Games sayings, and in the original movies became a means of mocking the Capitol, like depicted above.

It’s a somewhat rare occurrence when a sequel, let alone a prequel centered around the backstory of an especially despised villain, lives up to the thrill and excitement of seeing the original film for the first time. It’s extremely difficult to reignite that spark in audiences, as if they’re seeing the whole world for the first time again. However, Lionsgate Films director Francis Lawrence and the entire cast undoubtedly delivered that and more with their newest Hunger Games film, “The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes.” 

   The film debuted at $98 million worldwide. However, within the second weekend of its showing, it had grossed an additional $41 million. Audience ratings gave an average of 89%, while the film received 64% rotten tomatoes from critics. 

   For those who are unfamiliar with the story, the prequel is set 64 years prior to the original movies, during the 10th annual Hunger Games. It follows young and (somewhat) still innocent 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow, played by Tom Blyth, as he mentors the female tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird, played by Rachel Zegler, in the Hunger Games for a chance to win a full ride to college. Long before he becomes the cruel tyrant we all know from the original films, Coriolanus is a power- hungry boy desperate to keep up appearances among the Capitol elite and hide the fact that his family is teetering dangerously on the edge of poverty. 

   Anyone who knows anything about the original Hunger Games movies or books knows at least one thing: Snow is the villain. And yet, sitting there in the theater, despite knowing exactly what he would become, I  found myself, like several others, inching forward in my seat, rooting for him to make the right choice, and hoping he wouldn’t give in to his selfish instincts. But of course, as we all know, he does. 

   We as audience members get front row seats as Snow’s mental state goes downhill fast. Like any book-to-film adaptation, it’s impossible to visually translate a character’s internal monologue. However, there are still several clever ways of accomplishing this to a certain degree. Snow’s interactions with his cousin Tigris and fellow classmate Sejanus Plinth are excellent examples of his shifting personality. Even the shifts in Snow’s haircut and manner of speaking are excellent clues. 

   Aside from character development and acting, however, the stunning cinematography and visuals deserve their own recognition. One of the most impressive and recognizable things about this film was the minimal use of green screens and CGI. Almost all of the visuals were real locations, filmed mostly in Poland and Germany. Valerie Perea (11), who recently watched the film, commented that the use of real filming locations felt like it elevated the film even more, saying, “It felt like I was there and like I was with them, watching and experiencing it in real time.”

   Grace Thompson (12), who has seen the film twice, also expressed appreciation for the different style of scenery the film offered compared to the original Hunger Games films: “Everything was more kind of beautiful to look at. . . the other ones I feel like are just a lot of action and handheld camera.”

   All in all, the film has been receiving glowing reviews, from new and veteran fans alike. Even if you’ve never seen a Hunger Games movie before, prior knowledge isn’t necessary, as it’s rather self-explanatory. The nearly three-hour film will make you forget you’re in a theater and watching a movie, and not in Panem experiencing the story yourself. If you haven’t seen it already, I entreat you, buy your ticket now. You won’t regret it. 

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About the Contributor
Alexandra Arnold, Staff Writer
Alex Arnold is a senior at West High School and excited to spend her first year on Signals as a staff writer. She hopes to capture the unique experiences around West through her words, and play a part in sharing them with others. An avid reader and lover of any form of caffeine, Alex loves to visit art museums and meet new kinds of people whenever she can!