Sunday, 19 December 2021

Sing 2 (2021) - Movie Review

Well, this year’s been turning out pretty well for movie musicals, and the few talking animal movies I’ve seen this year have been consistently good… sure, let’s take a look at this feature. Although I’m not entirely sure if I need to, since this film’s marketing/trailer might be one of the worst cases of “they put all the best bits in the trailer, didn’t they?” I’ve seen in quite a while. Yes, let’s take the big emotional finale of our nearly-two-hour film, and make it the first thing most audiences will even gander at leading up to its official release; why even release it in the first place if you’re going to pull something like that?

But whatever, maybe the context leading up to it will still make it work in the full feature. Well… it kinda does? The main plot starts in the same place as the first film, with McConaughey’s Buster Moon once again promising the greatest show evar and then scrambling to make it work with minimal preparation, but it really feels like the rest of the cast are just along for the ride this time around. Sure, some of them have their own subplots, like Taron Egerton’s Johnny learning to dance for the show, Scarlett Johansson’s Ash working with Buster to try and get retired rocker Clay Calloway (voiced by Bono) to be in their show, and even writer/director Garth Jennings gets more to do as the voice of Miss Crawly. However, not only do they definitively take the back seat to the larger ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ narrative, they lack the emotional investment that made the first Sing work so damn well.

The music here feels like a step down as well. Don’t get me wrong, the songs themselves are fine and the actors here can still belt them out as needed, but there’s noticeably less in-universe singing this time around. Not only that, but what we do get doesn’t feel as tailored to each performer as it was before, meaning a lot of the numbers bleed together on a pure aural level. However, I’d argue that this isn’t as bad as I’m probably making it out to be, as the visual spectacle when things really get into gear helps alleviate that sensation. Some of the ‘staging’ choices are weirdly obvious (when they start singing Ariana Grande’s Break Free, it’s just a theatre version of the music video), while others are pretty cool (a stage production of Alice In Wonderland set to Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy), and the main show-within-a-show concept of a space opera musical gives a solid foundation for the frequently eye-popping visuals.

And as a show, this is perfectly acceptable. Hell, I’d argue that this is the sort of film designed to be seen on the big screen to get the full theatrical effect. But when it comes to the guts of the backstage musical setup, with Buster and his troupe trying to make it in Redshore City (or Furry Las Vegas, depending on how obvious you want to be at the moment), it’s lacking that personal spark to make the experience complete. All the focus being put on Buster’s own investment in making the show work saps the film of that desire to see everyone succeed alongside him, as their own struggles here are much more slight than they were last time around. This is far from a bad movie, and it’ll certainly entertain the little’uns, but as someone who really liked how Illumination did this concept back in 2016, it’s still a bit disappointing to see diminishing returns on this one.

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