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Adam Mason
KJ Apa, Sofia Carson, Demi Moore
Writing Credits:
Adam Mason, Simon Boyes

After a pandemic ravages the world, Nico attempts to save his girlfriend Sara from a quarantine camp.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DVS
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 86 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 3/16/2021

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Adam Mason and Writer Simon Boyes
• “The Story of Songbird” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• “Kingdom” Promo Video
• “The Making of ‘Kingdom’” Featurette


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Songbird [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 23, 2021)

Based on its title, one might assume 2020’s Songbird provides a sappy romance or heartfelt drama. Nope – instead, we get a thriller, and it we believe the PR blurb, a “terrifying” thriller at that.

After the “COVID-23” pandemic tears about the world, we find the US four years into a lockdown. To combat the virus, infected Americans get placed in quarantine camps known as “Q-Zones”, and they lack many resources to get away from these locations.

Apparently immune to the pathogen, Nico (KJ Apa) falls in love with Sara (Sofia Carson), a young woman still under lockdown. After she seems to become infected, Nico struggles to find a way to keep her safe – and out of the Q-Zones.

Given the massive impact COVID-19 had on the world, it became inevitable that films would reflect that, and Songbird represents one of the first entries in this genre. Before I viewed it, I thought perhaps the filmmakers shot it pre-COVID-19, but that doesn’t prove accurate.

So rather than seem prescient, Songbird exists as a reaction to the circumstances of COVID-19. Essentially it provides a “worst case scenario”, and it feels more than slightly opportunistic, as though the filmmakers rushed the story into production to capitalize on current events.

I wish I could claim that Songbird overcomes the apparent cynicism of its basic existence and its rushed production. However, instead this mess of a movie just feels like a cheap attempt to milk the subject matter.

Eventually we will probably get movies related to COVID that seem thoughtful and insightful. Songbird offers a more exploitative affair.

Which might not bother me so much if it didn’t feel like those behind Songbird wrote and shot it over a long weekend. Even at a mere 86 minutes and with a slew of characters, the film feels sketchy and undercooked.

Though my synopsis focused on Nico and Sara, Songbird often veers into more of an ensemble realm, as we get glimpses of others’ lives. These go virtually nowhere, and they seem to exist mainly to show off the star power director Adam Mason managed to attract.

In addition to Carson and Apa, Songbird features “names” like Demi Moore, Craig Robinson, Bradley Whitford, Alexandra Daddario, Peter Stormare and Paul Walter Hauser. No, that’s not the cast of Ocean’s Eleven, but it becomes a surprisingly strong roster to attach themselves to a quickie flick such as this.

With so many characters to serve, Songbird spreads itself way too thin. Even our main characters of Nico and Sara get little real exploration, and the rest feel tacked on at best.

Not that I suspect a story devoted solely to Sara and Nico would prove any more satisfactory, as those parts of Songbird seem wholly trite and cliché. Superficial, underdeveloped and boring, this becomes a poor attempt to capitalize on current events.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Songbird appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image worked well.

Sharpness appeared strong. Only a little softness occurred during some interiors.

This left us with a largely tight presentation, albeit one with some intentional lapses. Parts of the film attempt to look like they come from computer monitors or smart phone screens.

The image degrades these, but I didn’t view these as an issue. I saw no signs of shimmering or jaggies, and print flaws remained absent.

In terms of palette, Songbird tended toward standard teal and yellow/amber, with an emphasis on the former. These hues showed good representation within stylistic constraints.

Blacks were dark and tight, and shadows seemed smooth. The movie consistently looked solid.

Expect a satisfying affair from the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, as this became an engulfing mix. The track came with instances of dynamic information, mainly during action-oriented sequences. Those popped to life in an exciting fashion.

Much of the flick went with more ambient audio, and those segments succeeded as well. These contributed a good sense of atmosphere and formed an involving sensibility throughout the film, factors that made this a pleasing mix.

Audio quality seemed solid. Music was bold and full, and effects followed suit, as those elements appeared accurate and dynamic, with deep, tight bass.

Speech remained natural and without edginess or concerns. Though not action-packed, this became a reasonably broad, involving track.

A few extras flesh out the disc, and we begin with an audio commentary from writer/director Adam Mason and writer Simon Boyes. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the project’s roots and development, story/characters, camerawork and technical considerations, shooting during a pandemic, cast and performances, and related areas.

Though I referred to this as a “screen-specific” chat, Mason and Boyes only occasionally alluded directly to the material we see. Instead, they largely tell us of the production’s challenges, most of which connect to the pandemic.

This approach works well, as we find good insights related to the unusual circumstances that surround the movie’s creation. Expect an informative and engaging conversation.

The Story of Songbird runs 43 minutes, 59 seconds and brings remarks from Mason, producers Jason Clark, Michael Kase, Jeanette Volturno, Eben Davidson, Marcie Brown, Michael Bay and Adam Goodman, director of photography Jacques Jouffret, production designer Jennifer Spence, Red CEO Jarred Land, co-producer Max Votolato, and actors KJ Apa, Craig Robinson, Alexandra Daddario, Sofia Carson, Bradley Whitford, Paul Michael Hauser, and Peter Stormare.

“Story” looks at the film’s origins and issues with its creation during the pandemic, story/characters, logistics and challenges, cast and performances.

Much of “Story” discusses on the impact of COVID-19, and these perspectives prove interesting. However, a lot of “Story” also leans toward praise and self-congratulation, so expect too much back-patting.

18 Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 44 minutes, 59 seconds. That’s a lot of footage – more than half the movie’s final length! – and one would hope we’d find some material of real substance.

Alas, the cut scenes tend to add little. A bit of character exposition emerges, but I can’t claim we find anything substantial, and no important plot points got the boot. While I appreciate the massive amount of footage on display, I can’t claim we find much that seems interesting.

We can view the scenes with or without commentary from Mason. He tells us basics about the scenes and why they didn’t make the final cut. Mason brings us a useful collection of details.

Next comes a Promo Video for “Kingdom” from Roseanna Brown. This offers a music video for the song that plays over the film’s end credits, and it provides a simple affair that mixes lip-synch with movie clips. Brown’s pretty but otherwise this becomes a dull video.

We also find a featurette called The Making of “Kingdom” that goes for four minutes, seven seconds. It offers notes from Mason and musician Roseanna Brown. This tells us how they shot the video remotely during the pandemic. It’s mildly informative.

As one of the first films to confront the COVID era, Songbird sets a low bar. Despite a fine cast, the movie lacks any substance and becomes a boring, thin stab at dramatic relevance. The Blu-ray offers positive picture and audio as well as a surprisingly robust roster of bonus materials. Hopefully other COVID-related flicks will fare better than this dud.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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