Movie Reviews!

By Neha N., Grade 9


The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

The Hunger Games

Recently, I watched the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes movie, a prequel to the 3 known and loved Hunger Games books (which have also been made into movies.) The Ballad’s movie adaptation was released in 2023 and has been extremely popular since. It follows young Coriolanus Snow, who interestingly goes on to become one of the main antagonists of the main Hunger Games trilogy. It’s set a couple decades before the trilogy, around the time of the 10th Hunger Games. At this time, Coriolanus is a young aspiring student living in the Capitol, the center of Panem. He is assigned to mentor a tribute to the hunger games, Lucy Gray Baird, and he is determined to make her win the games, seeing as there would be massive rewards for both him and her. 

To be honest, the beginning of the movie was a little boring to me. I think that the producers chose to make a lot of the exposition about the characters, introducing them in detail, rather than moving forward with the plot. I think that it was important to do so, especially since the audience might have been expecting Lucy Gray to be fiercer, like Katniss, and Coriolanus to be more evil, since that was how he was portrayed in the trilogy. Although I appreciate the clarity it gave me, I think that it felt a little boring and uneventful.

However, the middle and ending of the movie were really well executed. Following the introduction to the movie, I was suddenly on the edge of my seat, cheering on Lucy Gray as she tried to survive the hunger games, completely empathizing with Coriolanus’s stress watching the hunger games, not knowing what was going to happen. There were several exciting close calls where Lucy Gray had to escape precarious situations, and moments of suspense as Coriolanus tried his hardest to keep her alive. 

The ending of this movie was probably my favorite part though. To be honest, I don’t think it’s that hard to tell what was going to happen, but even though I’d figured it out, it didn’t take any of the emotions away. I was wishing for a happy ending, but after all, this movie was a villain’s origin story. I was captured, watching intently as everything started to fall apart and all the hard work didn’t end up paying off. Although I prefer the original trilogy to this installment, I still enjoyed this movie a lot and I think it’s great for anyone who enjoyed the original trilogy and likes a good tragic love story, as long as you don’t mind a more slow beginning and less feisty characters.


The Eras Tour (Taylor’s Version)

A couple weeks ago, I watched Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour Movie, available on Disney+, and I enjoyed it a lot. This movie is a little different from traditional tour movies, which usually follow the behind-the-scenes aspects of the celebrity’s life and show less of the actual live performance. However, Taylor’s movie felt very much like I was actually at her tour, watching her perform live. It gives an audience view of her tours at SoFi Stadium, in Los Angeles. 

One of my favorite aspects of this tour was the quality of sound and audio. All of her vocals were on point, and they felt very in-the-moment and live, rather than just pasting a studio recording over the original sound. The camera shots were also super high quality, including a range of closeups to wide, birds-eye shots above the stadium. It was awesome to see Taylor’s face up close as she sang, providing an experience even closer than watching the actual tour could have been. I noticed lots of new details, like facial expressions, choreography, and details on the stage, that I didn’t know existed. 

Another aspect of this movie that I loved were all of the shots of fans in the stadiums. A huge part of concerts is seeing all of the other fans dressed up, singing, and dancing along. By adding occasional shots of fans singing in the audience, I felt more included, like I was standing right next to them, singing to live music. 

There was also lots of new footage added to the Disney+ version of the movie that wasn’t included in the film that was in theaters. One of my favorite parts of the whole movie was the additional acoustic set that was added, showing Taylor playing some of her sadder and deeper songs to live instruments, contrasting the bright, happy background tracks. It added a layer of depth to the tour that completed the full range of emotions expressed through her songs. When she started playing Maroon, one of my favorite songs, I was shocked, and I loved listening to it. 

Overall, the Eras Tour (Taylor’s Version) was a great watch for me. I thought it was executed very well, with excellent quality sets, shots, and music. I would recommend it for any swiftie, or even anyone who knows Taylor’s hit songs and loves to listen to music.