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September 27, 2015
That Sugar Film Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
28/2/20151/7/2015MadmanDamon Gameau
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD MA 5.1PGDamon Gameau

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That Sugar Film should be essential viewing.

One of the biggest issues facing the much of the Western world in this generation, and indeed in Australia, is that of obesity. For decades it has been drilled into us that fat is the cause of these issues, but in recent times sugar is increasingly being cited as a cause for obesity in many people. This documentary, made by Australian Damon Gameau, explores the health issues surrounding the sweet substance.

That Sugar Film is one man’s journey to discover the bitter truth about sugar. Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’. Through this entertaining and informative journey, Damon highlights some of the issues that plague the sugar industry, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves.

If you've seen Morgon Spurlock's Super Size Me then you would have a pretty good idea what to expect from That Sugar Film which has been created, and stars, Australian Damon Gameau. This documentary, as the title suggests, focuses on sugar and how it's affecting our health.

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Ken gets some extra powers.
Running for just over 100 minutes this is a fairly lengthy documentary, but rarely feels like it's plodding along with regular cameos from people like Hugh Jackman, Stephen Fry, and Brenton Thwaites among others. Indeed, it would have been great to have a little more scientific detail and evidence to back up some of the claims in the film (although in the extras Damon does mention there was a much duller, more scientific cut of the film that ran for 3 hours 45 minutes!). For instance, Damon states that sugar gives you a rush and increases happiness. Well, if that is the case would removing sugar lead to an increase in sad, possibly depressed, people. Ultimately this is a documentary to inform, and entertain, the masses, and not a university research paper so one must keep that in mind however That Sugar Film would remain a pretty eye-opening experience for many, and for many hopefully a kick start to a much healthier lifestyle.

Certainly the most jaw-dropping aspect of this documentary is that while Damon Gameau goes on his sugar diet to see what effect it has on his body, he doesn't just eat bad food such as soft drink, confectionary or ice cream, but instead eats 'everyday' foods, many promoted as healthy options to increase his sugar intake - fruit juices, yoghurt, stir fry sauces and the like. During the course of the film he demonstrates how many teaspoons of sugar are in everyday items and it's alarming and, over the course of his 60 day trial, the results on his body are quite shocking (he maintained the same level of exercise to what he was doing prior to the trial we must add).

The worst part about this film is the last couple of minutes where Damon decides to do some wierd sugar rap song which seems to almost make a joke out of the situation. It's light hearted, completely irrelevant, and probably should have been left as one of the extras on the disc. It would have also been great to have Damon interview some of the food manufacturers, or at least attempt to, to find out why sugar is added to so many products.

If the Australian Government (just like many others around the world) want to slow our obesity epidemic then, at the very least, they should send a DVD copy of this film to every household so they can be informed. Sure, the government could put others measures in place like regulating the amount of sugar added to food, but this will at least open everyone’s eyes a bit. That Sugar Film is essential viewing.

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Seeing the effect of sugar on the body.
AVC MPEG-4 codec in the film’s original 2.40:1 aspect ratio and with a bitrate that often hovers above 30Mbps this is a pretty impressive looking documentary with the main issues revolving around the variable lighting and setups during the interviews which is what one would expect from a documentary such as this. At time colours really pop off the screen and look fantastic in this AVC MPEG-4 encoding.

Besides the rather ridiculous song at the end of the film this is very much a dialogue driven release with Damon both narrating the film as well as conducting interviews with numerous people both of which remain crystal clear thanks to the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) soundtrack. This Blu-Ray release also includes an English Subtitle track which, from our sampling, is accurate to the dialogue in the film.

One thing is certain, this Blu-Ray contains a pretty extensive list of extras, many of which add to the information added to the film although many of these extras are quite brief. It would have been nice if the list of extras was in a bigger font - it's tiny.

Audio Commentary: Found under the Setup Menu this commentary includes the writer/director/star in Damon Gameau as well as the Executive Producer and Visual Effects Supervisor Seth Larney. The recording quality isn't great (it sounds like they're in a small booth), but the information they impart about the films production, and indeed the topic of sugar, is pretty impressive.

Damon Answers Your FAQs (9:28/HD): The director and star of this film, Damon, answers a series of questions and gives a bit more insight into topics related to this film and diet as well as information about schools accessing more information, and the App and Book with more detail. It's not a sales pitch, but quite informational.

A Calorie Is Not a Calorie (2:35/HD): This brief clip discusses the different types of sugars and calories.

Damon Finds His Bliss Point (2:08/HD): Apparently people have a "bliss point" which is the amount of sugar that determines your "sweet tooth" level.

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The difference before and after the diet.
Diner Scene (0:57/HD): This short clip shows some amazing stats about how our diet has changed over the last 30 years. It's scary.

Fruit vs Fruit Juice (1:40/HD): An interesting clip which discusses why fruit juice is nowhere near as good as having actual fruit which takes a lot longer for your body to break down due to fiber content in whole fruit.

Stephen Fry's Sugar Story (5:25/HD): Stephen Fry is a fascinating person and it's great to hear from him in this interview about diet.

Sugar and Advertising (Especially to Children) (5:05/HD): This is one of our biggest issues today - marketing sugary foods to children, and this featurette focuses on the ways in which companies market bad products in a positive light - "organic sugar" or "less fat" for instance.

Sugar and Appetite Control (1:37/HD): A bit fluffy this talks about fructose and sucrose drinks and which makes you feel hungry.

Sugar and Moods (2:48/HD): Somewhat surprisingly sugar can have a big effect on your mood, those that eat a lot of sugar can enter withdrawal without their 'fix'.

Sugar and the Big Cover-up (5:27/HD): A worthwhile piece which discusses the sugar industry covering up the unhealthy nature of the additive and how the sugar industry is starting to cover up this fact in much the same way the the tobacco industry tried to cover up the health issues with cigarettes.

Sugar and the Human 'Foie Gras' (1:04/HD): Just a brief comment about fatty livers in humans from the amount of sugar we consume.

Sugar, the Brain and Addiction (3:30/HD): A discussion about how the human brain is now wired for addiction to sugars.

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That Sugar Film is on Blu-Ray now.

Lowering Your Sugar Intake (3:03/HD): This looks at how we can lower our sugar intakes. It's brief, but worth a look.

Where Do We Go From Here? (2:11/HD): Our sugar addiction is one that humans have built up over time, and now we need to look at reversing this trend beginning with policy changes.

'That Sugar Song' Karaoke Version (3:05/HD): We hated the song in the actual film/documentary, it probably should have been left here as an extra only.

'That Sugar Song' Behind the Scenes (7:32/HD): If the music video wasn't enough we now get a look at making the clip - sadly it's one of the most extensive extras on the disc and while it's actually pretty interesting, I would have preferred some more interviews with the scientists, or deleted scenes from the film.

Theatrical Trailer (2:10/HD): The trailer for the film is actually pretty well put together, and sells the film pretty well.

Madman Propaganda (9:56/HD): After the copyright message, we have trailers for Paul Kelly: Stories of Me, Save Your Legs, Searching for Sugar Man and The Trip To Italy.

That Sugar Film is something which every single person should watch at least once - it may just change, and save many lives. In fact, we would love the government to license, and send a DVD copy of this disc, to every house in Australia. That alone would save the government a fortune in health resources over time. For now, do yourselves, and your family a favour and check this out.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Madman. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.