Blu-ray out­shines 2160p ver­sion of an­i­mated ‘Sing’

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - BY JOE SZADKOWSKI

An an­thro­po­mor­phic cast of tal­ented an­i­mal vo­cal­ists warms the hearts of home the­ater view­ers in the an­i­mated mu­si­cal “Sing: Spe­cial Edi­tion” (Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios Home En­ter­tain­ment, rated PG, 110 min­utes, 1.85:1 as­pect ra­tio, $44.98).

Now avail­able to daz­zle in the ul­tra-high­def­i­ni­tion for­mat, the story stars a spunky but busi­ness-chal­lenged koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), who con­cocts a plan to cre­ate a live singing com­pe­ti­tion to res­cue his fail­ing the­ater.

The wacky ci­ti­zens from the town even­tu­ally cho­sen to per­form in­clude Ash (Scar­lett Jo­hans­son), a punk­ish porcupine with a pop voice; Meena (Tori Kelly), an ele­phant with an awe­some voice but stage fright; Johnny (Taron Eger­ton), a teenage croon­ing go­rilla with a crim­i­nal fa­ther; Mike (Seth MacFar­lane), a Si­na­tra-es­que mouse; and Rosita (Reese Wither­spoon) and Gunter (Nick Kroll), a pair of danc­ing-and-singing pigs.

How­ever, when dis­as­ter strikes the the­ater, it will take the tenac­ity of the per­form­ers and a rous­ing, the-show-must-go-on at­ti­tude for the com­pe­ti­tion to suc­ceed.

The voice-over cast makes up for any of the cliched plot de­fi­cien­cies from direc­tor/screen­writer Garth Jen­nings.

View­ers es­pe­cially will en­joy Mr. McConaughey’s en­thu­si­asm and the singing of Miss Kelly (“Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing” and “Hal­lelu­jah”), Mr. Eger­ton (“I’m Still Stand­ing”) and Miss Wither­spoon and Mr. Kroll (“Venus”).

I’ll ad­mit to an oc­ca­sional laugh watch­ing a snail per­form Christopher Cross’ “Ride Like The Wind”, the an­tics of a rap­ping yak and Gunter cut­ting the rug.

How­ever, de­spite its suc­cess at the box of­fice, the film never at­tained the beauty or emo­tions of a “Moana,” “Kubo and the Two Strings” or “Zootopia,” nor did it have as many laughs as any of the “De­spi­ca­ble Me” films.

4K UHD in ac­tion: In a first for this re­viewer, the Blu-ray ver­sion of the film ac­tu­ally looked bet­ter than the 2160p coun­ter­part, both avail­able in the pack­age.

I’ll nor­mally use a set­ting on my tele­vi­sion that takes ad­van­tage of the high-dy­namic range imag­ing process, avail­able on this dig­i­tal trans­fer to of­fer spec­tac­u­lar view­ing.

How­ever, that set­ting caused a wash­ing out of the whites that crept into some of the im­agery. Any other set­ting on the tele­vi­sion did not help. The trans­fer never of­fered the same bril­liance, clar­ity and pop seen in many other 4K UHD re­leases.

Now the Blu-ray ver­sion, with­out HDR, and my nor­mal non-HDR set­ting of­fered a much warmer ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the vi­su­als and the abil­ity to scru­ti­nize such minu­tiae as go­rilla fur, worn leather jacket lapels and char­ac­ter mod­els that looked like large stuffed an­i­mals.

Scenes of Meena re­mov­ing glass pan­els out of a win­dow us­ing her trunk suc­tion and flo­res­cent stage light­ing pow­ered by squids were quite im­pres­sive.

The Dolby At­mos sound­track, avail­able on both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs, high­lights the singing but did not re­ally take ad­van­tage of the sound-en­velop­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Best ex­tras: A trio on shorts found on the 4K UHD disc of­fers a chance to watch Gunter babysit (3:48), Ms. Crawly the iguana en­ter­ing the world of on­line dat­ing (4:19) and Ed­die the sheep get­ting help from a life coach to keep liv­ing with his parents (4:17). It’s fun for the kid­dies and mildly amus­ing for the adults.

Alas, all of the other ex­tras are found on the Blu-ray disc.

First, the three min­i­movies are re­peated but also fea­ture an op­tional in­tro­duc­tion by some of the pro­duc­tion staff and artists.

Next, and best of the bunch, is 13 min­utes’ worth of char­ac­ter pro­files, as ex­plained by the voice-over ac­tor for each an­i­mal, in­clud­ing Mr. McConaughey, Miss Wither­spoon, Miss Kelly, Mr. Eger­ton and Mr. Kroll.

For an­i­ma­tion con­nois­seurs, only two short fea­turettes, to­tal­ing roughly seven min­utes in length, of­fer a be­hind-the-scenes look at the mak­ing of the car­toon.

For young­sters in­spired by the per­form­ing arts, they can sing along to a pair of mu­sic videos (“Faith” and “Set It All Free”) or mimic dance moves from per­form­ers in­spired by the song “Faith.”

A fi­nal area of ex­tras worth not­ing for chil­dren is a col­lec­tion of four faux com­mer­cials for some of the char­ac­ters’ busi­nesses, such as Gunter’s Dance Stu­dio.

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