Director: Adam Mason
Cast: K.J. Apa, Sofia Carson, Craig Robinson
Release Date: March 16, 2021
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 3/10
Disc Rating: 8.5/10
In this terrifying thriller, a devastating pandemic ravages the world and the United States is in its fourth year of lockdown. Infected Americans are ripped from their homes and forced into quarantine camps known as Q-Zones, from which there is no escape, as a few brave souls fight back against the forces of oppression. Amid this dystopian landscape, a fearless courier, Nico (KJ Apa), who’s immune to the deadly pathogen, finds hope and love with Sara (Sofia Carson), though her lockdown prohibits them from physical contact. When Sara is believed to have become infected, Nico races desperately across the barren streets of Los Angeles in search of the only thing that can save her from imprisonment … or worse.
Please Note: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
In a Los Angeles now in near complete lockdown after four years of a raging pandemic, ‘Songbird’ follows one young courier named Nico (Apa) who is immune to the increasingly deadly COVID strains. In love with a young girl named Sara (Carson) quarantined inside her apartment like most of the city, the two communicate by phone and dream of escaping the current state of horror they are living in. But when Sara’s neighbors become infected and the threat hits close causing officials to believe she is also infected, Nico must race against time and risk his life to find a black market seller able to provide a fabricated immunity pass for her, the one thing needed for them to stand a chance at creating a new life together.
Directed by Adam Mason (Blood River, Junkie) from a screenplay that he also co-wrote with regular collaborator Simon Boyes (Hangman), Mason does a decent job at the helm of ‘Songbird’ in many respects utilizing the bleak and dark environments with clever uses of lighting, although it still fails to hold up under the weight of its issues. The film features an impressive collection of talented individuals comprising the cast which includes K.J. Apa (TV’s Riverdale), Sofia Carson (Descendants 3), Craig Robinson (This Is The End), Bradley Whitford (Get Out), Peter Stormare (TV’s American Gods), Alexandra Daddario (We Summon The Darkness), Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell) and Demi Moore (Corporate Animals) along with more, the majority of which deliver decent enough performances in their respective roles overall, albeit not on the level of their other collected, unforgettable performances over the years.
‘Songbird’ is a poorly timed and largely uneventful look at what might happen to the world if the pandemic only became drastically worse over time. For the most part it simply drags us along for a largely disinteresting story of various characters in Los Angeles and the bleak state of the world they must endure due to ever increasing and evolving COVID strains (the film takes place four years in the future with COVID-23 as the latest threat; yes, seriously) and then takes some large leaps with plot turns and twists that feel well beyond the realm of believability which certainly doesn’t help to do this already problem laden film any favors. The film’s one real strength seems to be its gorgeous scenic shots and the stylish and brightly colored cinematography that stand out in many sequences which paired with the noteworthy cast do provide the film with a rather beautiful and big budget appearance.
Unfortunately not even the impressive collection of talented folks that comprise the cast can save ‘Songbird’ and many of their almost by-the-book performances seem to give the impression that they’d rather not be involved with this one either. Unless you’re already intent on checking this one out or might be a diehard fan of the cast who won’t miss any of their work, I would suggest probably just skipping over ‘Songbird’. It’s a poorly timed and surprisingly dull “disaster film” of sorts that sadly is also probably one of the last things people needed during the pandemic. Unless you’re intrigued and entertained by a film that imagines and creates the worst possible outcome imaginable from an already concerning real world threat, I wouldn’t waste your time or money on this one.
Overall, ‘Songbird’ is a fairly disappointing film in most respects although it does have a few elements in its favor, particularly the high quality cinematography and use of lighting and darkness, plus of course a pretty impressive cast of talented folks within. Unfortunately the lackluster story itself, the poor timing of the subject matter and too many coincidences or ways for the story to play out a little too perfectly all pile up along with a handful of other troubles that promptly overtake most of the positives within. I would strongly recommend skipping ‘Songbird’ unless you’re already determined to give it a shot. It’s not just a poor attempt to cash in on a worst case scenario for an already troubling pandemic, but fails to do anything worthwhile with it or provide any kind of original or interesting story to balance out the chaos.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Songbird’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole and provides a clean, richly colored and nicely detailed presentation from start to finish that never suffers from any unexpected faults or issues arising along the way. It holds up impressively even during the few darkly lit and fast moving sequences, never causing anything onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a great high definition video presentation that should easily satisfy anyone that wants to give the film a chance.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack delivers a solid compliment to the great high definition video presentation and delivers a crisp, clean and occasionally aggressive audio presentation throughout. It repeatedly takes advantage of all five available channels in order to send music, nature effects and chatter along with more throughout the various speakers at every fitting opportunity and never resulting in any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously becoming distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a highly capable 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that never falters or disappoints.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Songbird’ includes some solid bonus content that fans of the film should appreciate. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director/Co-writer Adam Mason and Co-writer Simon Boyes’, in addition to numerous ‘Deleted Scenes’ with Optional Commentary by Adam Mason (running approximately 45 minutes in length altogether). Also included is ‘The Story of Songbird’ (running approximately 44 minutes) which explores the process of bringing the film to life and includes interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The “Kingdom” Promo Video (approximately 3 minutes) is also included, as is ‘The Making of “Kingdom”’ (4 minutes).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 3/10
Disc Rating: 8.5/10
‘Songbird’ is Now Available to Own on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from STX Films & Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
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