Coming to theatres this Friday from director Francis Lawrence and Lionsgate is the return to Panem with THE HUNGER GAMES: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
It is sixty-four years before Katniss Everdeen becomes the girl-on-fire in Panem. In this time, the Snow family, now headed by Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) is attempting to care for Grandma’am (Fionnula Flanagan) and Tigris (Hunter Schafer). Believing doing well in school put him in the running for a financial award. Arriving dressed in the best he has, a classmate warns him of what is to come.
Creator of games Dr. Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis) makes the announcement that there will a change in the 10th Annual Hunger Games as mentors will be assigned to the district players. Coriolanus is assigned to Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) from District 12. Believing the best way to help Lucy Gray is by showing a bit of friendship to gain her trust and to make those in the capitol want to donate for things she may need.
Yet, there are those who are not happy with the games and Dr. Gaul makes it clear that they are losing the audience. Watching everything that is happening is Dean Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage) who is subtle in making his stance to the mentors on what is possible for their players survival.
As the games begin, host Lucky Flickerman (Jason Schwartzman) attempts to rally the audience into investing in who the players are. Their donations bring water and other essentials that could keep them in the games. Coriolanus has already given instructions on how Lucy Gray could survive but as the signal is given for the games to begin, it is all out brutality.
Coriolanus realizes that what he once believed is perhaps not the reality of living in the Capitol. There is also the beginning of something more between he and Lucy Gray but nothing can come if it unless they both survive!
Blyth as Snow begins as the head of a family that consists of his grandmother and sister living the life that is destitute and held together by pretense. Laying his silly blue eyes on Lucy Grey, he knows what he has to do to help her survive but its for the prospect of money and a pull towards this interesting girl. Blyth as Snow is fine but that’s about what I would expect. If there is another chapter, he will be fine again but I’m hoping this character develops because right now he’s just a love-struck puppy that is stuck.
Zegler as Lucy Gray, to be honest, I found nothing about the character that draws me in. Instead, the role is hollow, predictable and really irritating. Her easter egg of doing a bow at the reaping just annoyed me totally. I’m not sure who the character is trying to be but it gets no help from Zegler (and please don’t let her sing again).
Dinklage as Highbottom is everything. The fact that I love everything he does helps but he also kind of reminds me of Plutarch Heavensbee in the standoff mannerisms and the way he subtly hints at things.
Flanagan as Grandma’am continues to be the grand damn of the Snow household and does it well. Schafer as Tigris reminds me of a young Effie Trinket in her needle skills to help her brother look his best. She’s also demur but well aware of their situation. Schwartzman as Flickerman is in the same category as Lucy Gray and I’ll leave it at that.
Davis as Dr. Gaul is just overly everything that I just don’t understand. Trust that I love me some Ms. Davis but this role just doesn’t do anything for me as a viewer. Making her look a bit psychotic probably doesn’t help making it difficult for me to understand her true purpose being drastic by the manic close ups.
Other cast include Sexter Ansell as a young Coriolanus, Rosa Gotzler as a young Tigris, Ashley Liao as Clemensia Dovecote, Joshua Kantara as Gaius Breen, Amelie Hoeferle as Vipsania Sickle, florian Burgkart as Hilarius Heavensbee, Ayomide Adegun as Pliny Harrington, Aaron Schultz as Apollo Ring, Max Raphael as Festus Creed, Yalany Marschner as Dennis Fling, Anni Baumann as Iphigenia Moss, Flora Li Thiemann as Livia Cardew, Zoe Renee as Lysistrata Vickers, Lilly Cooper Arachne Crane, Carl Spencer as Smiley, George Somner as Spruce, Aamer Husain as Felix Ravinstill, and Josh Rivera as Sejanus Plinth.
Also, Tim Torok as Facet, Mackenzie Lansing as Coral, Cooper Dillon as Mizzen, Hiroki Berrecloth as Treech, Irene Bohm as Lamina, Knox Gibson as Bobbin, Sofia Sanchez as Wovey, Kjell Brutscheidt as Tanner, Luna Steeples as Dill, Dimitri Abold as Reaper, Nick Benson as Jessup, Isobel Jones as Mayfair Lipp, Marc Gray as Mayor Lipp, Raphael Zari as Lil, Dakota Shapiro as Billy, Vaughan Reilly as Maude, Honor Gillies as Barb, Eike Onyambu as Tam, Scott Folan as Beanpole and Burn Gorman as Commander Hoff.
Lionsgate is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000-motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at http://www.lionsgate.com.
Well, as you can probably tell, I did not have a good time watching this film. It just felt like a mish-mash of a story with a few crazy characters thrown in and a bit of musical to wear out the viewer in two hours and thirty-seven minutes. The cast is too large for me to even grasp who each of them is and what part they play – other than the next dead player. I did want to give credit where credit is due so I did an extra-long cast list.
I did enjoy the cinematography and special effects because it does have the feel of THE HUNGER GAMES that I came to enjoy. Telling me to ‘go read the book’ isn’t helpful in this situation because I shouldn’t have to read the book in order to enjoy the film. If you are going to do a prequel of a successful film franchise line then give me something that welcomes me back – I didn’t get it with the film.
Did I want to like it? Yes. I’m sure the film will do well with fans and I hope they enjoy it because this is, after all, about dedicated fans and what they want. I’m sure they believe that director Lawrence will give it to them.
In the end – you’re invited to return to the games!