When the Olivia Rodrigo track started and the credit began rolling, I couldn’t assist however scratch my head. The Starvation Video games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is now in theaters and as a fan of the unique movies, months and months of trailers had me suitably excited to test it out. However after virtually three hours of the story performed out on display, I’d anticipated issues to come back collectively in a satisfying and enriching manner. They didn’t.
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Set a number of a long time earlier than the occasions of the primary movie, The Starvation Video games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes facilities largely on Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), the teenage model of the evil chief performed by Donald Sutherland within the unique motion pictures. In these motion pictures, Snow is the President of Panem and the collection’ massive unhealthy man. He’s principally the personification of the titular Video games and the punishment and ache they inflict on the folks of Panem. This new film goals to clarify how he received there, which is a really thrilling and tantalizing premise. What makes somebody so diabolically evil? After watching the movie, I’m not precisely positive.
With out going by means of each single beat within the film, we study early on that Snow’s household confronted difficulties and whereas they could appear wealthy, they aren’t. He’s, nevertheless, an exemplary pupil and the hope is to realize fortune and success by means of that arduous work. He’s on the cusp of doing simply that when the powers that be change the foundations. As an alternative of getting a good shot at a prestigious scholarship, it will likely be determined by him and his fellow college students appearing as mentors within the tenth annual Starvation Video games. These are annual occasions the place two youngsters from every district are randomly chosen to compete to the loss of life on TV. Scores have been down in recent times and Snow and his classmates are tasked with altering that.
Lucy Grey in District 12.Picture: Lionsgate
Snow offers the sport makers all types of concepts to enhance the competitors, proving his genius, and he finally ends up, by means of many rousing and attention-grabbing scenes, not solely serving to his tribute Lucy Grey (Rachel Zegler) win, however endearing her each to the nation and himself. Sadly, Snow cheated to attain that so he’s punished by being despatched to Lucy Grey’s dwelling district. There, the pair are in a position to reconnect and discover their love, earlier than a collection of occasions make Lucy Grey notice Snow isn’t as pure as she’d hoped, and he returns to the capital able to ascend to the throne we all know he’ll declare.
Of all of that, 75% of it really works very properly. Seeing Snow manipulate the video games and cheat to assist save his tribute has a pleasant, clear development. That he then follows her to her district additionally tracks fairly properly, and his steadiness of defiance and obedience whereas there additionally line up. However as Snow and Lucy Grey discover themselves in a number of eventualities the place Snow finally ends up promoting out his greatest pal, after which killing one other individual to save lots of her, the journey will get muddled. We clearly see that there’s an evil ambition in him. A need to attain and succeed at any price. However we additionally see his compassion and, when he decides to run away with Lucy Grey close to the top, it appears as if his compassion wins.
That is the place director Francis Lawrence, I believe, makes his most egregious errors. After Snow and Lucy Grey run away collectively, she mysteriously disappears, leaving him responsible, scared, and indignant. It’s this state that sends him again to civilization and ends the film. However the movie doesn’t make Lucy Grey’s emotions in direction of Snow clear. It’s complicated why or how she leaves him. We assume it’s as a result of she found out he turned in his pal and doesn’t belief him anymore, however a vital piece of the puzzle making that clear appears to be lacking. Plus, his fast leap to anger in direction of her doesn’t monitor. The ending of the film follows so carefully after these scenes which you can’t assist however be like, “That’s it?” Which isn’t a superb factor after a film that’s properly over two and a half hours.
Snow returns to the Capital.Picture: Lionsgate
Now, to be honest, I’ve solely seen the film as soon as. Perhaps I missed one thing. Perhaps there was a realizing wink or look that helped coalesce Lucy Grey and Snow’s journeys. And sure, Snow does then kill certainly one of his most important adversaries, Dean Highbottom (Peter Dinklage), upon his return to solidify he’s on his strategy to pure evil. But it surely nonetheless seems like there are big gaps in that key relationship between Snow and Lucy Grey, particularly by the top, which makes the film disintegrate ever so barely proper when it wanted to come back collectively most.
All of which is to say The Starvation Video games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes isn’t unhealthy. Seeing the early days of the Video games and a Panem a long time earlier than Katniss is definitely entertaining. However when your entire level of the film is to be an origin story for a villain, that a part of it ought to work higher than the rest. And, in our minds, it’s the other.
The Starvation Video games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is now in theaters.
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