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Sing (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Illumination Entertainment, the animation studio most known for those darn Minions.  Actually, I enjoy the Despicable Me films, its just the one that focused on the little side characters was a giant waste of time (Though, I’m sure those seven and under probably loved it).  While that’s the flagship, they’ve actually carved quite a remarkable track record in six short years.  All but two of their films have made over a half a billion dollars worldwide.  Which, one of those two was The Lorax which did exceedingly well at 348 million worldwide.  They hit big in summer and winter in 2016, showing they are much more than the Minion house.  The Secret Life of Pets almost made a billion dollars in the summer and the film we are reviewing here, Sing, made over half a billion running up against Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  They appear to be a major force to be reckoned with, holding their own in a world usually owned by Disney and Pixar.  Sing proved to be quite popular, not just with audiences, but seemingly winning over critics as well.  It comes to 4K UHD Blu-ray on March 21st!

Film 

Buster Moon is an eternally optimistic koala who puts on the world’s greatest singing competition to save his crumbling theater with a list of unlikely candidates he wants to find a star from; Rosita, an overworked and unappreciated mother of 25 piglets desperate to unleash her inner diva; Ash, a punk rock porcupine with a beautiful voice behind her prickly exterior; Johnny, a young gangster gorilla looking to break free of his family’s felonies; as well as many others.

With all the popular reality television karaoke contests out there today.  The late American Idol, The X-Factor, The Voice and so on and so forth, one of these animated movie studios was going to tackle that subject one of the days, right?  Well, that day is here.  Sing pokes itself some fun of what it may truly be like to pull just any old average joe off the street to try and turn them into some sort of star.  Except with Sing, its moreso about getting some ratings/sales for a theater and supposed prize money for the contestants.  Its a cute little take that manages to be easy going through its use of known pop songs from today and yesterday as well as incorporating its own music to the mix.

In terms of cast, this thing is pretty loaded.  Leading the charge is a pair of Academy Award winners, Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon.  Importantly, its Mud reunion (Well, if they were ever in the booth recording during the same day).  McConaughey seemingly is having loads of fun with this character and its incredibly infectious and shines through.  Some of the actors stealing scenes for me personally though, were Seth MacFarlane as the throwback lounge singer Ash and Scarlett Johansson as the lovable alt rock girl Ash.  Both really struck me as the most intriguing or fun and I liked the original music they performed.  Breaking through here is Tori Kelly in the long trunk role of Meena with a song that you’ll have trouble getting out of your head.  As a matter of fact, there are plenty  that will haunt your brain and that’s a big victory for any movie about music, honestly.

Sing finds a nice balance between being really kid friendly and then having a plot and stakes that keep the adult intrigued and some laughs that kids won’t understand.  Its nothing deep and its not trying to really make any big hidden statements, it just is what it is.  The message is exactly what it is on the surface.  Now, there is some bothersome stuff with what a swindler and dirtbag Buster comes across, but I think the film actually handles it pretty well and with some good thoughtfulness.  Sing is okay, its not great and its not amazing, but its a movie that’s hard not to enjoy and like well enough.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  Yes, that’s a low 4K UHD score.  No, the picture does not look terrible.  It looks quite good.  But, then you pop in the standard Blu-ray disc and see that one (5 Stars) is pretty much identical to this.  Maybe there is a difference between the two, but its the most minimal increment better at best.  I flip and flopped them back to back and maybe some parts displayed some better color or something.  The glow during the aquarium glowing jellyfish stage setup was a bit more vivid.  Maybe some of the detail isn’t more distinct, but clearer.  Its very hard to tell.  Which makes this a rather disappointing image in terms of a 4K UHD upgrade.

Depth:  This is the one area where I feel confident that the 4K UHD improves slightly.  Movements are a bit more clearer and smoother.  Camera sweeps, pans and other movements feel a bit more confident and graceful.  In static shots, spacing and foreground/background relations seems rather similar though.

Black Levels: Blacks come off quite good and can both get deep and then take on that light gray look that sometimes works.  It helps in sharpening enhancement and also brings about some good detail.  Johnny looks quite good and his fur showers in it with nothing hidden.  For this review, no crushing was witnessed during the viewing of either format.

Color Reproduction:  Colors have a strong and sort of pastel look to them in spots.  Strong as they are, there’s nothing here that really pushes the HDR or even waives its hand to let you know its present.  Some of the glow in the dark-ish moments may prove it just a little, but honestly its not that far off from the regular Blu-ray.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD ready), Spanish 7.1 Dolby Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Audio

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics:  Sing 4K UHD carries the same Dolby Atmos track as the standard Blu-ray.  Its a very fun track that doesn’t skimp on its qualities.  The sounds are crisp, distinct, layered and very well structured.  Foley plays out with such clarity and is well thought out.  There is also a good balance of those effects in with the music and vocals in the film as well.  The performance sequences heighten the experience and are full and powerful and everpresent, but not in your face with loudness.

Height: There are some good opera hall moments with the ceiling as well as when the place comes crumbling down.  The track makes use of this feature, but also doesn’t abuse it.

Low Frequency Extension:  I really admire how the bass and bumps are put to use here.  Songs don’t bump hard, but carry a sort of eloquence and style over substance when it reverberates.  When big action moments happen it takes on a different level of intensity.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Well, this one surely is an awesome one to hear travel around the room.  Sounds are pronounced and clearly coming from certain channels with a good sense of identity.  All environments are fully realize and immersive.  Sound travels accurately and without fear around the room.  There is a car chase in the film that packs quite the whallop and ultimate example of the fun this can be.  That’s not to mention many of the concert-like music moments that fill your living room area.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud, clear and crisp.  Vocals with singing takes on a whole new polished sheen, front and center and a little bit of an uptick in the volume.

Extras 

Sing comes with the Blu-ray edition and an UltraViolet digital copy of the film.  The 4K UHD disc only contains the Mini Movies. The rest of the supplements are on the standard Blu-ray.

4K UHD

Mini Movies

  • Gunter Babysits (4K, 3:48) – Gunter lets Rosita and her husband go out for a date and discovers the challenges of taking care of all the little piglets.
  • Love At First Sight (4K, 4:19) – Johnny helps the iguana receptionist out in setting up an online dating profile and she starts going on some dates.
  • Eddie’s LIfe Coach (4K, 4:17) – Eddie looks to get in shape via an audio program.

Blu-ray

The Making Of Sing (HD, 4:40) – A quick run through of where the film came from, how it rose to a reality, the picking of animals, voices, songs and what the film means to everyone.

Finding Rhythm: Editing Sing (HD, 2:44) – A nice little softball piece on editing that is pretty neat and educational for younger viewers.

Character Profiles (HD, 12:25) – Quick little pieces with the cast, how they got involved in the project and what they brought and thought of their respective characters. Includes “Matthew McConaughey as Buster Moon”, “Reese Witherspoon as Rosita”, “Tori Kelly as Meena”, “Taron Egerton as Johnny”, “Nick Kroll as Gunter”, “Garth Jennings as Miss Crawly”

“Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” Music Video (HD, 3:11)

Making A Music Video With Tori Kelly (HD, 2:52) – Tori Kelly on set of the music video, includes some hair and make-up, choreography practice and behind the scenes stuff.  Kelly, the director and the choreographer all have little interview clips about it.

“Faith” Music Video (HD, 2:46) – Stevie Wonder featuring Ariana Grande.

“Faith” Lyric Video (HD, 2:49) – Animated with lyrics on the screen so you can sing along.

“Set It All Free” Lyric Video (HD, 3:40) – Same as previous.

Sing & Dance! – “Faith” (HD, 6:31) – Some dancers show off moves that they choreographed to the song “Faith” from the film.

The Sing Network – Commercials based on characters and things from the movie.  Its basically just shots and clips from the movie with a narrator and some graphics shaping it into a different narrative.

  • Gunter’s Dance Studio (HD, 1:22) 
  • The Moon Theater (HD, :43)
  • Rosita’s Babysitting Gizmo (HD, 1:03) 
  • Miss Crawly’s Matchmaking Service (HD, :55) 
  • In The News (HD, 9:09) – This is just a brief little who’s who of the characters done like a E! True Hollywood Story type thing.  Includes “Buster Moon”, “Gunter”, “Rosita”, “Johnny”, “Meena”, “Ash”, “Mike”

The Best Of Gunter (HD, 1:03) – Pretty self explanatory.

Mini Movies

  • Gunter Babysits (HD, 3:47) 
  • Love At First Sight (HD, 4:18) 
  • Eddie’s Life Coach (HD, 4:16) 
  • The Making Of The Mini-Movies (HD, 5:56) – Left off the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc, this one goes over the love of making these shorts.  I didn’t realize Scott Mosier was invovled with this film.  Producers, directors and artists discuss each one.

Summary 

Sing is a cute, charming little animated movie that is pretty much a surface level entertainment that finds ways to touch on both child and adult themes and humor.  As for the 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation, its astonishing that this really proves to be no real upgrade at all over its standard Blu-ray counterpart.  I found barely any improvement in the format jump here.  Its so minimal that maybe I’m not seeing what I’m seeing.  All the extras here are found on the Blu-ray.  Unless you just want the black case or want to appear elite in spending your money, there is no reason not to go with the standard Blu-ray version of the film.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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