The book Sing To The Dawn was one of this reviewer’s favorite literature reads back in school. It had none of the talking animals, nor the home theater system in a tree, that the movie version has.
Despite that, the book is much better. Dawan is a young village girl who dreams of living in the big city. However, she has to fight traditions and customs that plague females in her village, like girls are meant to be married off to someone decided for them and that education is unnecessary for girls. Dawan is no ordinary village lass, going against wishes of her dad and out-scoring her brother in an examination to clinch a prized scholarship.
A subplot to Dawan’s pursuit for a better life is an evil landlord who is plotting to bulldoze the village and plant a casino, rendering everyone homeless.
The story addresses the generations-old gender stereotype that’s common to Asian families. It’s just hard to see how a bear leader, complete with a TV-creating spider and bespectacled monkeys fit into the picture. These really detract from the heart of the story.
Story aside, the animation is where the movie really fell short. The characters seem to have titanium embedded into their bones. The movement was extremely rigid, and facial expressions were less than satisfactory. The part that showcased the brother’s martial arts skills seemed like a right rip-off of Kung Fu Panda. Perhaps the weirdest thing was the color of the film. I know it says “Dawn” in the title, but no matter what time of day it was in the story, there was always an orange hue on screen.
There was just nothing new about this movie, or interesting about the production to make this a good film. My companion summed it up as “a boring movie with beautiful songs” and that’s pretty accurate.
The amount of money that went into this film could have created a much more worthy production under a more capable producer and director. Clearly, having three major studios plus lots of money doesn’t result in a quality film.