A Brief History
On December 9, 2020, we had the opportunity to review a new feature film, Songbird, scheduled for digital release on December 10, 2020. With the basis of the film being a mutated Covid virus that has sent the United States (and presumably the World) into a dystopian future (4 years from now), there are sure to be critics that find the subject matter to be in bad taste. (Note: We do not provide spoilers.)
Touted as a “Michael Bay” film, it must be noted that Bay is the producer, not the director or screenwriter. Other notable names involved with movie include Demi Moore, KJ Apa (Archie, from the Riverdale television series), Sofia Carson (gorgeous young actress from the Descendants movies and others), and Alexandra Daddario (Percy Jackson franchise, Baywatch, San Andreas and others). Each is exquisitely well cast in their roles, as are the other characters. In fact, casting is probably the strong point of the film. Adam Mason directed the movie, and also co-wrote it.
The plot summary is that the US is in the grip of a terrible Covid-23 pandemic in the near future (4 years from now), in which the government rounds up any persons infected with the virus and sends them off to a horrible fate in quarantine zones. A minority of citizens are immune to the mutated virus, cleverly referred to as “munies.” These munies have freedom of movement unlike everyone else who is required to quarantine in place at home. Nico (KJ Apa), is a munie that works as a delivery boy to all the shut-in people. He is the main character, though several other characters are also inter-related as the dystopian tale unwinds. Another key plot point is the advanced technology that allows for instant digital scanning of people to see if they are infected with the virus, and the issuance of special bracelets to identify munies so government “Sanitation” squads, heavily armed and wearing Haz-Mat type suits, leave the munies free to roam about.
Songbird captures the fear of both the virus and the government goons, the tension, frustration, sense of loss and anxiety a population in dire straits would be feeling. It is not hard to project our current situation into a devolving situation leading to such a scenario, though perhaps without the rapidly advanced technology. Running time is only 90 minutes, so the fast pace of the film does not allow for any boredom to set in. The interrelated nature of the characters comes to full circle by the end of the movie, leaving no glaring plot gaps. There did not seem to be any blatantly preachy aspects to the story, other than perhaps “fear the government.” Cinematography is excellent, and we applaud the lack of darkness in scenes we find so annoying in many of the latest movies and television shows.
We enjoyed the movie and did not find the subject matter to be in bad taste, though we fully expect many people to believe the subject matter is too close to the current crisis. We recommend the film for teens and adults, with caution for pre-teens of a sensitive disposition.
Question for students (and subscribers): Should movie makers avoid the pandemic theme while we are still in the grips of our current crisis? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Howard, Dylan and Dominic Utton. COVID-19: The Greatest Cover-Up in History. Skyhorse, 2020.
Quinlan, Heather. Plagues, Pandemics and Viruses: From the Plague of Athens to Covid 19. Visible Ink Press, 2020.
The featured image in this article is a poster for the film Songbird. It is believed that the use of scaled-down, low-resolution images of posters to provide critical commentary on the film in question, not solely for illustration, on a website hosted on servers in the United States, qualifies as fair use under the copyright law of the United States.