Sing (DVD) : Review

Film

In a city of humanoid animals, Buster Moon, (Matthew McConaughey – Interstellar) a hustling theater impresario’s attempt to save his theater, with a singing competition becomes grander than he anticipates even as its finalists’ find that their lives will never be the same.

A great many of the local animals enter the competition, and with their hopes and dreams perhaps within reach, we are introduced to Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), Mike (Seth MacFarlane – A Million Ways to Die in the West), Ash (Scarlett Johansson – Ghost in the Shell, Captain America: Civil War), Eddie (John C. Reilly – Kong: Skull Island, Guardians of the Galaxy), Nana (Jennifer Saunders – Minions), a Young Nana (Jennifer Hudson), Meena (Tori Kelly), Meena’s Mother (Leslie Jones – Ghostbusters), and Judith (Rhea Perlman) to name but a few of the characters, played by talented voice actors.

Sing is at its very heart, not just a story about music and theatre, but it is a musical. There are a long string of musical numbers throughout the film, backed by exceptional artists. Combining that with not only a delightful story, but settings that feel very real to the viewer, as the animals come to life in their city, on screen

The music is good, the story completely engrossing, making Sing a film that viewers will return to time and again. A film most certainly deserving of praise, and an exceptional addition to any film collection.

Disc

Technically, the disc could use some work. The navigation is annoying and frustrating, from the cryptic main menu symbols, to the menu timeouts where the disc will navigate from a sub-menu back to the main menu. When on the main menu, the main title will begin to play if the disc is left for a minute.

Video and audio for the main feature are good, however, and the film itself is enjoyable. There are a lot of bonus features on the disc, some worthwhile watching, while others feel like they are just placed on the disc in order to increase the number of additional features. A good idea might have been to put all these on a bonus disc of their own, instead of using a high compression rate for everything.

Sing is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video on the main feature is encoded at a reasonable bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen. The focus does feel a bit soft when viewed on a larger screen.

Colours throughout the film are vibrant, with almost imperceivable colour bleed. This does not detract from viewing though. Darker scenes maintain fair detail, with dark blacks.

Viewers with the necessary hardware or software could scale up to a larger, or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Video in the menus is compressed at a higher level, leaving more space on the disc for bonus features, and a lower compression rate for the main feature.

Video in the bonus features is also compressed a lot more than the main feature, with several places where there is colour bleed evident. Thankfully, this does not detract, nor get in the way of, viewing.

Audio

Audio for the main feature presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, and encoded at a decent, average bitrate. Dialogue is clear via the centre speaker, with a great amount off use for the surround channels, serving to expand the on-screen world, and further draw the viewer into the story.

There is no stereo 2.0 downmix on the disc, so this would need to be handled by the viewers hardware or software. There is a track for descriptive audio though.

Bonus material, including music videos, is presented only in a 2.0 mix.

Navigation

The main menu has a video background showing small snippets of the film, with accompanying music, but presents same frustrating symbols that Next Entertainment uses on their DVDs. These are a triangle to play the main feature,

Next is the symbol that looks like an open book, leading to sub-menus for chapter selection. There are four large, still, colour thumbnails per page, with a total of twenty chapters in total. While these are numbered, they are not labelled, so navigating to a particular part of the main film would require a bit of guesswork.

The asterix symbol leads to a sub-menu with a text list for the bonus features.

The speaker symbol leads to a sub-menu where the desired audio language can be selected. These are presented as a text list.

The last symbol, looking like a page with writing at the bottom, leads to a sub-menu where subtitles can either be selected, or turned off completely.

And as with this frustrating use of menu symbols, the menus do time out. After a period they will return one to the main menu, and then after a period (just over a minute) the main feature will start to play. So, inserting the disc will eventually lead to the main film appearing on-screen, for those who struggle with the menu symbols. Some of the sub-menus, once the viewer is about three levels deep, do not timeout, making the entire experience unpredictable, and not very consistent. Yet another check on a list of annoying and frustrating things.,

While one might eventually learn these menu symbols, it is a wonder why there could not have been a simple text label to assist the viewer. The menu timeouts however, can prove rather frustrating, making the choice for the viewer, and at times losing one’s place in the various sub-menus. Rather poor navigation design.

Bonus Features

There are quite a few bonus features on the disc, however most are really short excerpts, that feel a bit like promotional material that would have been used in lieu of trailers. There are several music videos, and a number of mini movies though.

Mini Movies – A collection of shorts, featuring the characters from the film. A fun distraction for younger viewers.

Gunter Babysits is a short movie with Gunter looking after Rosita’s twenty five piglets. While short, it does contain a few laughs, and should evoke a wry smile in older viewers. A nice addition, that is sure to appeal to both young and old.

Love At First Sight, a short film with Miss Crawly. It has a heartwarming aspect to it, sharing happiness rather than laughs. The battle against cynicism is won in the end of the short piece, although this aspect, of many, is likely to be lost on a younger audience. Yet there is plenty still for them.

Eddie’s Life Coach has Eddie is given a digital seminar by his mother, hoping he will get his life back on track. The tables are turned however, in a rather amusing way, as Eddie meets up with Gary. A few laughs, yet not overly funny. This short should however appeal to the younger viewers.

The Making Of The Mini Movies is a short video that goes behind the scenes, talking to those involved in creating the mini movies, and providing the viewer with some insight into their process. This is sure to interesting not only the average viewer, but budding filmmakers and animators alike, as well as perhaps imparting an interest in animation to a younger audience.

The Making of Sing – With a lot of insight presented by the producers and director, we are treated to a look at the process of creating Sing, from initial idea and conception, with a look at storyboarding, and eventually as the scenes start to come together. Being a bit longer than the many other videos that make up the discs bonus features, there is a lot more information imparted here. While perhaps one of the few videos not aimed more at the younger viewer, this is sure to appeal to older viewers, and be of interest to budding filmmakers and those looking to get into animation one day. Perhaps this might inspire a young viewer on the path of a career choice.

“Faith” Music Video – The song “Faith” from the film, with Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande. This video shows live action of the performers, with some black and white sketches from the film.

“Set It Free” Lyric Video – The song “Set It Free” from the film, with music, vocals, and on-screen lyrics. A fun item to use at a young birthday party.

Sing And Dance! – “Faith”- Learn some dance moves, inspired by the film’s song “Faith”. Another fun item for a birthday party, or for energetic youngsters, on a winter holiday.

The Sing Network – A collection of short clips, likely used as television or promotional spots, for Sing.

Gunter’s Dance Studio is an advert, from Gunter, for his dance studio. A short video clip, worth perhaps one watch.

The Moon Theatre is a short clip advertising the Moon Theatre, presented in a style reminiscent of days gone by, when theatre was a big outing and adventure.

Rosita’s Babysitting Gizmo is another short clip, in the form of an infomercial, advertising the complicated device Rosita creates in the film, to save her time, and help get the kids up and off to school.

Miss Crawly’s Matchmaking Service, a clip advertising an online matchmaking service, run by Miss Crawly. Again, as with the other videos in this section, this is presented as a television type advert. Probably worth at least one view.

In The News navigates to yet another sub-menu, where the viewer can choose between Buster Moon, Gunter, Rosita, Johnny, Meena, Ash, or Mike. Each of these plays as a trailer to a show about that character, introducing them via footage from the main feature and narration. These do contain spoilers if you have not seen the film yet, so rather wait until you have watched. While each does give a fair amount of information, they are short, coming in at under two minutes each, on average. There is a playlist should one wish to play them all.

The Best Of Gunter – A montage edit, just under a minute, of some of Gunter’s lines from the main film, along with some of his dance moves. This might entertain the little ones, if they are inclined to imitate him, but there isn’t much other entertainment value in this short clip.