Dan Roberts shares his thoughts on Sing & Split in a double-whammy film review…
From Illuminations, the team behind the Despicable Me series, Minions and last year’s The Secret Life of Pets, comes Sing; yet another computer-animated entry about anthropomorphic animals, but one that thankfully doesn’t include those meddlesome yellow tic-tacs (although I’m sure there are plenty of easter eggs more visible upon repeated viewings). Sing follows koala bear, Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey, because who else), who is fighting tooth and claw to keep his late father’s failing theatre running, but turns somewhat crooked when he publicly announces a $100,000 prize for the winner in a new singing contest – one which he, a koala bar with no more than some nine-hundred dollars to his name, will host.
With the first act composed of a series of scenes reminiscent of television’s X Factor, there’s no denying that Sing is far less painful and leaves nowhere near as bad a taste on the tongue as the cringe-worthy reality show. Cue character dilemmas and a collection of well-known pop song covers which, while highlighting a lack of creativity, still exude that feel-good factor, even if the film overall lacks massively in the X. And while Sing may not be as superior or as beautifully-crafted as last year’s Zootropolis, its environment and attention to detail – bar the characters themselves – is simply astounding. Sing is a fun flick and one you just might need over some of the dreary Oscar-season stuff that’s hogging the screens lately.
From the mastermind behind mega-twist thrillers The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs, as well as turkeys like The Village (well, kind of), The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth, comes “Split”, a horror-thriller about a man (a stupifyingly-brilliant James MacAvoy) with dissociative identity disorder. Kevin Wendell Crumb has twenty-three personalities, something three young girls soon learn after he kidnaps them in broad daylight and locks them in his underground dungeon, where Kevin and his “friends” tell the girls about a “beast” who is coming to eat them, a creature his doctor believes to be nothing more than a character fabricated by several paranoid personalities. But whether the beast is real or not, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her friends must learn to escape their prison before it’s too late.
There’s no denying that Split is a nail-biting-thriller, but equally, it’s hardly a return to form for M. Night Shyamalan. That said, it’s easily the best thing he’s done in years, even if 2008’s The Happening has gone on to become a strangely-loved cult film for all the very, very wrong reasons. Perhaps the real problem here, and as is the case with most things Shyamalan, is that the plot has been built around the twist rather than said-twist being a consequence of the writing. All in all, while his latest Hitchcock-esque brain-bender might be no 10 Cloverfield Lane, it’s a thrilling Friday night watch nonetheless, even if it is as silly as most Shyamafilms tend to be nowadays. But take note of a post-credit scene that may leave you wondering whether this fallen-from-grace director is willing to challenge the likes of MCU and DC, or if he’s simply nothing more than a man of cheap thrills.