Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sing 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
From Illumination, the studio that brought you The Secret Life of Pets and the Despicable Me franchise, comes an animated comedy about finding the music that lives inside all of us. Sing stars Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey as Buster Moon, an eternally optimistic koala who puts on the world’s greatest singing competition to save his crumbling theater; Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon as Rosita, an overworked and unappreciated mother of 25 piglets desperate to unleash her inner diva; Scarlett Johansson as Ash, a punk rock porcupine with a beautiful voice behind her prickly exterior; Taron Egerton as Johnny, a young gangster gorilla looking to break free of his family’s felonies; as well as Seth MacFarlane, John C. Reilly, and Grammy Award-nominated Tori Kelly. Sing is the musical comedy event of the year!
Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
As a young Koala, Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) originally wanted to be an astronaut.  At the age of six, he fell in love with music after his father took him to a show, and he never dreamed of space again.  He is now a grown Koala, who owns a rundown theater.  Buster’s financial problems are mounting, and he is being threatened by the bank.  To save his theater, Buster decides to hold a singing competition.  The prize is meant to be $1,000 but his assistant Miss Crawley (voiced by Garth Jennings) adds too many zeros and the flyer offers a $100,000 prize.  

The open auditions draw a huge crowd including a shy elephant named Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly).  A pig named Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), who is the stay at home mom to 25 piglets, also attends.  A porcupine named Ash (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) auditions with her boyfriend.  A rat pack mouse named Mike (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) shows his stuff.  Johnny the Gorilla (voiced by Taron Egerton) auditions with a smooth ballad, hoping the prize money will free him from a life of crime in his father’s gang.  They all make the cut, except for Meena, who never actually sings at her audition.  Meena has the voice, she just needs to find the confidence to claim her spot in the show.

Buster now has bigger problems than his crumbling theater. He barely came up with the $1,000 prize money.  There is no way he can pay the winner $100,000.  Buster is optimistic even when the odds are against him.  His father washed cars for thirty years in order to allow Buster to buy the theater and he refuses to give up on his dream.

In the world of Sing, there are no humans, only animals.  They all speak English.  No translation needed when a giraffe wants to talk to a koala.  Although they do talk, Sing is truly all about the music.  When the characters aren’t auditioning, they are rehearsing. The characters are cute, and sometimes funny.  The elementary school crowd should laugh out loud as Miss Crawley’s eye pops out of her head and rolls around. Unlike Zootopia, you won’t see a lot of detail about their world.  Everyone seems to co-exist in a world not particularly customized to any breed, size or climate. 

While the environment isn’t as detailed as Zootopia, that doesn’t mean the character lack depth. The story has heart.  You’ll feel for Buster as he struggles to become a success.  Adults will also recognize Rosita’s lack of fulfillment in her life and marriage, but the idea isn’t a downer for the younger audience.  Knowing there is an inevitable happy ending won’t ruin the journey.  Most importantly the vocals are impressive.   The cast isn’t made up of actors that can kind of sing.  It is made up of singers, who can act – some of which may surprise you.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Sing’s 4K ultra high definition presentation shows no remarkable improvement over the Blu-ray.  I actually checked to make sure I hadn’t inserted the wrong disc. Usually the colors are much brighter and more vivid and a computer generated film truly comes to life in 2160p. In either format there is an authentic texture to clothing, fur, and the environment. What you get in 4K is great, but it’s not any better than the 1080p Blu-ray.  I can’t see any reason to spend an extra dollar on the 4K release.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Sing offers a Dolby Atmos soundtrack that turns your living room into a theater. The notes really carry, even with little use of overhead channels. Helicopter blades whiz and city streets are busy and bustling. The listener can certainly feel the difference between a lone acapella singer at a microphone and an orchestra. Dialogue is intelligible and consistent throughout the film and the audio is evenly matched on either 4K UHD or Blu-ray.
Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The mini-movies from the Blu-ray are also found on the 4K disc.  All other supplemental features are only found on the Blu-ray disc.  A digital copy is included with purchase.
  • Mini-Movies:
    • Gunter Babysits – See what happens when Gunter sits for Rosita’s children.
    • Love at First Sight – Ms. Crawley takes a shot with online dating.
    • Eddie’s Life Coach – Eddie’s mother is an infomercial shopper.
  • The Making of the Mini-Movies – A six minute  look behind the scenes at the process of making the mini-movies 
  • The Making of Sing –A brief featurette examining the story, the animals and the movie’s overall purpose.
  • Finding the Rhythm:  Editing Sing – A look at the editing process and the reasons to keep footage.
  • Character Profiles – Matthew McConaughey as Buster Moon, Reese Witherspoon as Rosita, Tori Kelly as Meena, Taron Egerton as Johnny, Nick Kroll as Gunter and Garth Jennings as Miss Crawley.
  • Music Video – “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”
  • Making a Music Video with Tori Kelly – As the title suggest, Tori Kelly (who voices Meena) discusses making the video.
  • Music Video – “Faith”
  • Lyric Videos – Karaoke style videos for “Faith” and “Set It All Free”
  • Sing & Dance! – “Faith” A dance tutorial.
  • The Sing Network – Five part feature including commercials and character profiles.  Included are Gunter's Dance Studio, The Moon Theater, Rosita's Babysitting Gizmo, Miss Crawly's Matchmaking Service, and In the News. 
  • The Best of Gunter – A one minute selection of Gunter’s clips.

Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Sing was a better than expected film.  Its fun for children with bright colors and lots of music. It is sweet, and has heart. It also has a deep enough story to engage adult audiences. The film looks and sounds great on Blu-ray and 4K ultra high definition but the 4K disc showed no significant upgrade. The actors inhabit their roles/animals well and the special features are fun but geared towards the younger crowd. I recommend the purchase.

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