“What are the Hunger Games for?” Head Gamemaker Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis) asks young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) not once but twice in this new trailer for the prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. The first time, he says the games are to punish the districts. The second time, young Mr. Snow has a military haircut and a whole new bearing, and we don’t get his answer.
It’s very unlikely to be satisfactory, anyway.
This movie was inevitable: The adaptations of Suzanne Collins’ original Hunger Games trilogy were blockbusters that made a star of Jennifer Lawrence, so why wouldn’t Collins’ prequel story get a big splashy movie? In Katniss Everdeen’s day, President Snow is her nemesis, the chilly leader of Panem. But decades before, he was just a young rich kid assigned to mentor a very different tribute in Lucy Gray, a performer who may have unexpected depths under her sweet face. (Lucy Gray? As in morally gray? Next to white Snow? Subtle.)
This trailer teases more depths to the film, but still relies heavily on the flashy, horrifying images of the arena in which the games take place, and the ever-more-inventive awful monsters that are unleashed or created there. (Honestly, I don’t want to know what the rainbow worms do.) No one is having a good time, excepting possibly Jason Schwartzman as Lucky Flickerman, who has the same job as his eventual descendent Caesar (Stanley Tucci, in the previous films).
Those having a very bad time include Peter Dinklage as Games creator Casca Highbottom and Hunter Schafer as Coriolanus’ cousin Tigris Snow. Burn Gorman is also in there somewhere, probably playing a not-very-nice guy.
Director Francis Lawrence returns to the franchise that he—to give credit where it is due—hugely improved upon with Catching Fire. The screenplay is by Michael Lesslie (Assassin’s Creed) and Michael Arndt, who co-adapted Catching Fire.
The arena beckons on November 17th.