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Blu-ray Review Chicago: Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    XenForo Template Chicago: Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review

    The wondrous rebirth of the live action movie musical was cemented for the 21st century via Rob Marshall’s Chicago. With Moulin Rouge preceding it and with this blockbuster paving the way for subsequent box-office successes like Dreamgirls, Enchanted, Mamma Mia, Hairspray, and Les Miserables, Chicago firmly brought movie musicals back with a bang. Based on a successful 1975 Broadway hit, Chicago offered marvelously inventive production numbers, memorable songs, and a superb cast of singing, dancing artists tied to a satirical look at the nature of fame: its price, its fleeting nature, and its addictive power to produce one of the most entertaining and invigorating films of the new millennium.

    Posted Image


    Studio: Lionsgate

    Distributed By: N/A

    Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

    Audio: English 5.1 DD, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish 5.1 DD

    Subtitles: English SDH

    Rating: PG-13

    Run Time: 1 Hr. 53 Min.

    Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, UltraViolet

    keep case with a slipcover

    Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

    Region: A

    Release Date: 02/11/2014

    MSRP: $14.99




    The Production Rating: 4.5/5

    Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) has always wanted a career in show business, and she begins an affair with Fred Casely (Dominic West) who promises her he has connections in the business. But when Fred admits he lied simply to get Roxie in the sack, she shoots him in a fit of anger and seems destined to become Chicago’s first woman to be hanged for murder. Through the auspices of her crooked prison matron Mama Morton (Queen Latifah), Roxie connects with slick, shady lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) who promises an acquittal if Roxie and her slow-witted husband Amos (John C. Reilly) can come up with his $5,000 fee. Meanwhile, Roxie’s story has pushed nightclub chanteuse Velma Kelly’s (Catherine Zeta-Jones) own double murder trial off the front page, and the two divas vie to see who can remain number one in the Chicago sleaze press while each attempts to find her own way of getting away with murder.On Broadway, Chicago was billed as “A Musical Vaudeville,” and director-choreographer Rob Marshall has stayed true to that concept telling the tuneful story of Roxie and her various cronies through her mind’s eye as musical performances. Apart from the opening and closing numbers – “All That Jazz” and “Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag,” the numbers are fantasy acts which Roxie, Velma, Mama, Billy, and Amos play out in her head all the while actual events in Roxie’s real life are also occurring (which results in much frenzied cross-cutting between songs and story within almost every number). Bill Condon’s script offers a perfect motif for those allergic to characters bursting into song in other musicals: these numbers are a part of Roxie’s imagination, and the vaudeville motif in its dizzying array of incarnations is brought forward in each one of them. That doesn’t stop them, of course, from advancing the story or commenting in sourly satirical fashion on the characters’ flaws or the gossip-hungry world which they depict. This was the brilliance of the original show and, by extension, this film version (though one must hurriedly add that in order for this conception to work, several of the show’s most memorable numbers – “My Own Best Friend” and the hilarious “Class” – had to be dropped along the way because they couldn’t be worked into the fantasy framework.Rob Marshall’s dazzling choreography (with some nods to the original stage dances by Bob Fosse but numbers which are definitely of his own design) sometimes gets overwhelmed by the razor-editing: we get glimpses of great dancing in “All That Jazz” or “Cell Block Tango,” but the cuts are sometimes ruthlessly fast, and the camera doesn’t always catch the stupendous dancers in full figure to better appreciate the fancy steps and intricate patterns. Better is the marionette number “We Both Reached for the Gun” which is simply mind-blowing in its complexity and narrative power as we see clearly the phoniness of the lawyer and his charge and the willingness (naiveté?) of the press to play along with the lies to make a good story and sell papers. And the principals each excel in one or more solo moments which all rank as career high points for them.Catherine Zeta-Jones began her career in musicals in London, so she’s assuredly in her element singing and dancing up a storm in “All That Jazz” and “But I Can’t Do It Alone” along with impressive ensemble work in “Cell Block Tango” and her end duet with “Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag.” Richard Gere, too, started out in musicals, so his confident handling of “All I Care About Is Love,” “We Both Reached for the Gun,” and “Razzle Dazzle” isn’t a huge surprise, either. But Renee Zellweger had had precious little singing or dancing experience (unless being a college cheerleader counts), and yet her canny mixture of innocence and pointed poise in singing and hoofing in “Funny Honey” and “Roxie” are rather a shock, and by the time of “Hot Honey Rag” she appears to be Jones’ equal with the fast footwork and the ability to really sell a number. Queen Latifa had already sung slow jazz in Living Out Loud to great effect, but “When You’re Good to Mama” lets her cut loose on material that’s alternately sly and sexy and perfect for her delivery. John C. Reilly, also a veteran of stage musicals in his younger years, handles the sad sack “Mister Cellophane” number like a master. In smaller roles, Christine Baranski as sob sister columnist Mary Sunshine (a role played on stage by a man in drag, another nod to old vaudeville traditions but not used here) does well, and Colm Feore as the D.A. out for blood has effective non-singing moments as well. Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs, and original stage Velma Chita Rivera pop up in effective appearances.


    Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    This new edition of Chicago does boast a new remastered transfer but with the same 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio in 1080p using the AVC codec. Contrast has been slightly boosted here resulting in more vibrant color (occasionally running maybe a touch too hot). There really isn’t much if any increase in sharpness, however, and black levels are similarly impressive. The transfer continues to have a fine, film-like appearance. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.



    Audio Rating: 5/5

    The new edition also boasts a new surround encode: Dolby TrueHD 7.1. For those who have those rear back channels available, you notice quite a difference from the earlier PCM 5.1 mix with more musical activity in the rears: more noticeable placement of instruments and chorus singers in the rear channels (some may find they need to adjust the back channels a bit if the volume level overpowers the front soundstage). Split ambient effects like cars moving through the frame do have a nice amount of panning through the soundstage. Dialogue and the vocal lines of the singing come through beautifully in the center channel.


    Special Features Rating: 4/5

    The only bonus feature ported over on Blu-ray from the old release to the new is the audio commentary by director Rob Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condon. For the cut “Class” number and the “Stage to Screen” featurette from the old release, one must play the DVD enclosed in the case. Other bonuses from previous releases have not been ported over.These are the new inclusions with this release:Chicago in the Spotlight (2:22:19, HD): all of the principal cast members along with director Rob Marshall, his partner/directorial assistant John DeLuca, and executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron relive the entire production process of the film sharing anecdotes from early script meetings through casting, the rehearsal period, the production staff chosen, changes in the final cut, and its delirious reception around the world.Extended Song Sequences and Rehearsals (SD): multiple camera shots of numbers (shown in split screen windows) and home movies taken in the rehearsal space are offered for the following numbers: “All That Jazz,” “When You’re Good to Mama,” “Cell Block Tango,” “We Both Reached for the Gun,” “Mister Cellophane,” “All I Care About Is Love” (extended and rehearsal), “Nowadays,” “All That Jazz” rehearsal, “I Just Can’t Do It Alone” rehearsal, “Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag” rehearsal, “We Both Reached for the Gun” rehearsal, “Cell Block Tango” rehearsal.DVD/Ultraviolet: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.


    Overall Rating: 4.5/5

    Still the only Oscar-winning Best Picture musical of the 21st century, Chicago retains its toe-tapping, tune swinging, satirical send-up of fame and notoriety in one of the briskest and breeziest musicals ever made. Highly recommended!


    Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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  2. Adam Gregorich

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    This disc was authored with Dolby's Advanced 96 upsampling process. You can learn more about it here. I'm glad we are seeing more discs using this process come to market. I think the results speak for themselves with reviews like this.
     
  3. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    Very interesting, Adam. Thanks for that information.
     
  4. Scott Merryfield

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    Thanks for the review, Matt. My copy arrived yesterday, and we plan to watch it this weekend. Since I am not much of an "extras" person, it sounds from your review that I am safe to sell the old BD.
     
  5. Tina_H_V

    Tina_H_V Well-Known Member

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    I think I'll add this one by my birthday. At this price, I would not mind having this one in my collection as an upgrade to the old BD I have carried for a few years myself.
     
  6. Rick Thompson

    Rick Thompson Well-Known Member

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    My problems with the film are:

    1. While Gere was much better than I expected him to be, Billy Flynn will always and forever be Jerry Orbach, who originated the role on Broadway. Orbach gave it real grit and cynicism; Gere is too much a pretty face.

    2. Sorry, but Zellweiger is a cipher in the part, and I didn't believe her for a minute as Roxie. That MTV-style editing of her dance numbers was to hide that 3-4 seconds was the longest she could do at one stretch.

    Have to add, however, that Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah delivered knockout performances (who knew Latifah had that good a voice?), and John C. Reilly was also good in a thankless part.
     
  7. Eric Vedowski

    Eric Vedowski Well-Known Member

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    And Zellweiger missed all the humor in her songs that Verdon supplied.
     
  8. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Matt: Thanks for the detailed review (and comparison to the original release).

    And I look forward to learning more about the new sound treatment (courtesy Adam's link).

    I've said it on a number of occasions that I consider this disc to already have reference quality SQ. I will now look forward listening to what this new release sounds like.
     
    Matt Hough likes this.
  9. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    Mike!

    How wonderful to see you back with us and posting again. I admit I thought about you while I was doing the comparisons in real time knowing you had expressed interest in this new release, and I'm so glad you will be able to see and hear it and compare them for yourself.
     

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