The Song of Birds and Snakes is a great addition to the Hunger Games universe | Review

Any successful franchise in Hollywood is always subject to a revival, reboot, prequel or sequel. And whoever joins the list is Hunger Gameswhich gets a prelude called The Song of Birds and Serpents. Directed by Francis Lawrencewhich directed three of the four original films, the film is a good addition to the saga as it tells a story even more bittersweet than that of Katniss Everdeen.

It is good to clarify at the outset that the character of Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t show up in any way here, since we’re talking about a story in the past, inspired by the book of the same name by Suzanne Collins. Em To Cantigawe follow the young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), who tries to return the family to their glory days. The opportunity arises when he becomes a Hunger Games Mentor, responsible for mentoring the District 12 tribute, Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler).

In addition to showing what the young man was like who became the feared President Snow, the film portrays what the first editions of the Hunger Games were like. Far from the glamor shown in the main franchise, the competition here is more rustic. The tributes are placed in cages like animals and the Capital has not yet understood that endearing them to them is a way to make the Games more interesting for sadistic spectators. This realization is something that happens little by little throughout the new film. In a curious parallel with today’s world, it is clear how creating a spectacle based on tragedy generates an audience.

At the same time as we follow this, we see Snow’s mishaps, exactly as they are narrated in Collins’ book, published in 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a bold move to choose to expand such a successful franchise precisely through the story of one of the greatest antagonists, but both book and film blur the lines between heroes and villains, showing how human beings, in general, oscillate between good deeds and highly questionable moments. . In the case of Snow, there was a decision not to make him a hero at any point. Even when it places him as the protagonist, The Song of Birds and Serpents makes it clear that we are facing a person with a controversial nature, capable of anything to achieve his goals.

In this regard, Tom Blyth does an excellent job. Known for smaller productions such as Benediction (2021) e The Golden Age (2022), the 28-year-old actor truthfully delivers all of Snow’s moments, from when he feels his pride hurt when reminded of his family’s financial failure, to when he reaches the height of confidence when he achieves (almost) everything he wanted in the world. end of production (it’s no spoiler to say that he lives, after all, the character has a future that fans know well).

On the other side, we have Lucy Gray Baird, a tribute from District 12 who tries to survive in the midst of a cruel world. Rachel Zegler also delivers a good performance, in contrast to Blyth’s: as we see the story from his point of view, Lucy Gray is always shown as an enigmatic character, who we know little about and can be suspicious of at all times. Of course, a large part of this is due to young Snow’s paranoid look, but the film gets it right in conveying this feeling in such a believable way.

Image from The Hunger Games: A Song of Birds and Snakes
Peter Dinklage stands out in the cast, but doesn’t deliver anything surprising in his performance (Paris Filmes/Disclosure)

The cast of The Song of Birds and Serpents There are more names that deserve to be mentioned, although none shine like the two protagonists. Hunter Schafer has little screen time as Tigris, Snow’s cousin, but delivers an interesting performance after years in Euphoria. Peter Dinklage plays Dean Casca Highbottom and doesn’t go much further than a less charismatic version of Tyrion Lannister, his character in Game of Thrones. Of the supporting actors, the one who stands out the most is Viola Davis, as the sadistic Dr. Volumnia Gaul, who commands the 10th edition of the games. With more connection to the main character, Gaul is particularly scary, in the way that only people from the Hunger Games Capital can be.

One of the only negative points of the film is the balance between length and pace. At almost 2h40, the film lives up to its name “long” and becomes tiring, especially after the plot that shows, in fact, what the 10th edition of the Hunger Games was like. This characteristic is also felt in the book. With 571 pages, the publication chooses not to end at the climax, but rather to show another layer of Snow, which clashes with the rest, although it is important for the construction of the character. Even though it cut a lot of things from the original story, something common in any adaptation, the film cannot overcome this characteristic and it is quite possible that many fans will end the session somewhat tired.

Despite this, it is also possible to end the session with a feeling that The Song of Birds and Serpents It’s a story that needed to be told. Although it is bittersweet to reach the end knowing all the atrocities that will still be committed by Snow, there is a feeling that, now, we deeply know the nature of this character and the origin of the Hunger Games itself, as it was shown in the main franchise. Not pleasant, but completely necessary.

The Hunger Games: Song of Birds and Snakes is showing in cinemas.

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