THE HUNGER GAMES prequel is an epic adventure story, with some profound things to say about the nature of evil and tyranny. However, it’s also a character study of a deeply flawed young man who becomes obsessed with a naïve young woman whom he almost totally corrupts. So, the ending is somewhat depressing. THE HUNGER GAMES prequel also has some disturbing violence. So, Movieguide® advises extreme caution.
Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Light morality tale about the seductive power of evil and tyranny, but the lead female character says she thinks human beings are born good and are corrupted by society, but an analysis of her own character’s actions reveals that even she has an evil streak susceptible to further corruption
No foul language
Strong, sometimes disturbing violence includes a brutal federal dictatorship forces its citizens to send 12 teenagers and young adults to compete against one another to the death for some prize money, and it’s all watched voraciously by the people on their home television sets, people are killed by stabbing and chopping and poison and pushed from great heights and bombed, a character shoots a woman in the back, another character shoots another character dead, a horde of snakes slither over people, snakes bite two people, a young woman puts a non-poisonous snake down a rival woman’s dress, and local military officials hang a few people
No sex scenes
Upper male nudity in one scene
Brief alcohol use in bar scene
Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
No smoking but one older character drinks little vials of some new form of liquid morphine; and,
Strong miscellaneous immorality includes betrayal, cheating, lust for power, revenge, man holds a grudge against the son of a man he hated, cheaters hold another cheater accountable for doing what they also did.
THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES is a prequel to the acclaimed trilogy, which tells how the elderly dictator, President Snow, became so corrupt and powerful, including his personal relationship with a young woman whom he grows to love and tries to protect. THE HUNGER GAMES prequel is an epic adventure story, with some disturbing violence and profound things to say about the nature of evil and tyranny, but it’s also a character study of a deeply flawed young man who becomes obsessed with a naïve young woman whom he almost totally corrupts, so the ending is somewhat depressing.
The movie follows the original novel by Suzanne Collins pretty closely. It opens with Coriolanus Snow as a young boy as he and his cousin, Tigris, fend for themselves on the war-ravaged streets of the capital city of Panem. They struggle to get food for themselves and their grandmother and almost get physically bitten by a rabid dog.
About 11 years later or so, Coriolanus is ready to graduate from the government’s main academy, or high school. He, his cousin and their grandmother are on the verge of being evicted from their ritzy apartment, which they really can’t afford. So, he hopes his high grades in school will win him the school’s biggest prize money for graduation, so his family can survive, and he can go to university.
However, since it’s the 10th Annual Hunger Games for the rebellious 12 districts that allegedly started the war that devastated the capital city, the President of Panem and the evil Head Gamemaker, Dr. Voluminous Gaul, have decided to make a big change. They decide that the top
12 students at the high school will mentor the 12 contestants in the deadly Hunger Games. The players must fight one another to the death, and the best mentor will win the prize money.
Coriolanus is dismayed that the Dean of the high school, a morphine-addicted dwarf who hates Coriolanus and his dead father, has decided that Coriolanus must mentor Lucy Gray Baird, a popular singer from District 12 who performs with a country-folk band. The way the Dean and Coriolanus see it, Lucy Gray has no chance surviving against the other players.
However, to everyone else’s surprise, during the opening ceremony for the Hunger Games, Lucy Gray boldly gets revenge against the daughter of her district’s mayor. The mayor’s daughter is Lucy Gray’s rival for the attentions of a young man. She secretly arranged for Lucy Gray to become the player to represent their district in the Hunger Games. After getting her revenge, Lucy Gray then defiantly sings a song for the crowd and the TV audience during the opening ceremony.
As a result, Lucy Gray begins to attract a following among the TV audience watching the Hunger Games. With additional help from Coriolanus during the games, she also attracts donations of food and water from her TV fans. The donations will help her survive against the other players trying to kill her.
Lucy Gray saves the life of Coriolanus when some rebels bomb the arena for the games. Coriolanus then starts to give Lucy Gray some unorthodox, dubious help against the other players. His help will affect both of them, and their future, in ways neither of them could foresee.
In many ways, THE HUNGER GAMES prequel is an epic adventure story, with some profound things to say about the nature of evil and tyranny. For example, the movie, and perhaps the novel as well, suggests that, in a brutal tyranny, the urgency for survival can warp nearly anyone’s moral conscience. THE HUNGER GAMES prequel is also a character study of a deeply flawed young man who becomes obsessed with a naïve young woman whom he almost totally corrupts. As such, it’s like a morality tale. However, it takes a while for all these things to play out in the story. So, like the original novel, which is more than 500 pages long, the movie itself is too long. That said, the movie’s length does add to the story’s epic feel.
THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES has some melodramatic moments that undercut the story’s realism. For example, Viola Davis’ performance as the evil Dr. Gaul is sometimes over-the-top. If she were a man, the filmmakers would have given her a moustache to twirl, like the melodramatic villains of the 19th Century.
Finally, the HUNGER GAMES prequel contains disturbing violence. Happily, however, it avoids inserting any foul language or offensive lewd behavior. Nevertheless, the violence, which includes some scary scenes with a horde of slithering snakes kept in a tank and then released, warrants extreme caution.
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