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HTF REVIEW: Chicago - Razzle Dazzle 2-disc SE, DAZZLINGLY RECOMMENDED



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#1 of 65 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted December 18 2005 - 02:40 PM


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#2 of 65 OFFLINE   JoshB

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Posted December 18 2005 - 03:10 PM

So besides the first disc, which appears to be identical to the previous one (except for the 30 minute doc), the 2nd disc holds about 90 minutes worth of material, and 30 minutes of that is a VH1 doc, which usually are about as interesting as the ones that are on HBO. (which are just to full of fluff and very full of themselves). You seem to really give high marks o the video and audio, but didn't people say that both were underwhelming in the inital release. The video, many pointed out, suffered from the digital filtering that has plagued many Miramax titles, and that the DTS was not as great as it could have been. If its the same as the last release, even less of a reason to buy it all over again. I can't see myself re-watching interviews with the director or technical crew, or a VH1 behind the scenes feature. Besides that, the only other two featurettes that appear to be interesting are the ones with Colleen Atwood and John Myhre. I never really did care for this film. It lacked the spectacle and appeal of other musicals, and I think Hollywood only gave it an Oscar because they thought musicals and adaptations of Broadway plays or other plays would become all the rage, which they clearly haven't. Its only a few years after this has come out, and people seem to dislike it more now than they did before. I don;t hea many talk about it now, and coming out with a DVD of it again may remind the movie going public what they really saw in the film to make it the hit it should not have been. Why this did as good as it did is beyond me, but then again the Weinsteins did rob Saving Private Ryan of its Best Picture Oscar, which is all Miramax really was good at was pulling off really good Oscar campaigns to make there less than spectacular films appear better than they really are. To wait this long just to get identical A/V and a few other extras was not worth it. It was suppose to be a 3-disc set with a CD soundtrack, and that may have had some value had it been kept. The only reason why this was held off for so long was to promote Marshall's "Memoirs of a Geisha" which was suppose to be Best Picture material, but based on its critical response I doubt many will see it like this one. To me this is no different of the many other double dips of past years, and its nothing more than studios trying to cash in on the director or actors newest project.
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#3 of 65 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted December 18 2005 - 03:21 PM


That's probably not the right place to start.

Posted Image

Trust me, as a fan of the film, the new bonus content makes this purchase easily worth the while.

The "extended musical numbers", short about Liza, and in-depth documentaries into Bob Marshall and the making of the film are not mere "promo" material. The VH1 short comes closest to that category...but that's the only feature that even borders on it.

Some folks really didn't like the video quality. All I can say is having seen this projected theatrically, the DVD looks much, much better. It has room for improvement, but it's still one of Miramax's better live-action DVD jobs.

As for the audio, I think that many folks criticized the audio for being "front heavy". That's almost as typical to my mind as folks who criticize 1930's audio for "audible hiss".

Yaawwwnn. Posted Image

The mix on this disc sounds stable and solid right-up-front ***like a stage-musical ought to sound***...with plenty of ambient fill to help pull the sound into the room without falling prey to more modern (tasteless) 5.1 mixing styles where instruments are placed around the listener in an unrealistic manner.
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#4 of 65 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted December 18 2005 - 03:24 PM


Again...if you don't like the film, why even consider an upgrade for better audio/video? I thought the audio (especially the DTS) was incredible in the initial release. I'm VERY glad they carried the DTS over to the SE. I'm less of an expert on the video end of the release, but the first DVD looked pretty darn good on my small HD CRT.

I can agree that this should have been the initial release (I abhor the concept of strategic studio double-dips), but nevertheless I will be picking up this release.

Thanks for the review, David! Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#5 of 65 OFFLINE   JoshB

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Posted December 18 2005 - 04:29 PM

Mike, your comments make it seem that I am considering picking this up, which I am not going to do at all. My comments clearly state that I don't like the film, and I think this double dip is unwarranted. They also reflect that this SE does not stand up against other re-releases since it lacks contribution from key players, and it ports over features from the last release and doesn't add new ones that I would look for in picking up a new release. Where are the actual stars discussing this film? I mean, it was nominated in all acting actegories short of Best Actor, so where is Cahterine Zeta, Renee, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, or Richard Gere? There should at least be interviews with them. Also, Mike's comments seem to be a little too biased towards the film, and they reflect that in each description of the extras. He makes seach one seem to be the "best" or "outstanding" feature there is, and he just seems to be a little overzealous. I am not making a personal attack, but he clearly favors the film and has padded his review to make it look like the best SE this year, when there have been so many better ones. I would leave my love of the film at the door, and save my comments about the DVD extras to reflect quality regardless of my like/dislike of the film. You even state that people who didn't like the audio complain about it being front heavy, yet you gave it a "5" anyway. Well, it is front heavy and not deserving of the highest marks for audio (or video for that matter). That's just my opinion, but I would still find faults in a film's presentation even if I did love it so much, and I would not over favor the quality of the DVD just because I am a huge fan of the film. He calls the film a masterpiece for God's sake, and it is only a few years old. I think a film should have a few more years behind it to earn that title. If Rob Marshall really is a gneious and the film is that great, he would have won Best DOrector. don;t you think? Or was that Miramax who fell short inthe marketing of the film and didn't get enough Oscars "this time" around? It wasn;'t deserving of the 6 it won then, and it sure doesn't seem to have the lasting legacy that goes with a "masterpiece". In 10 years, most will have forgotten this one and chalk it up to another overhyped film. I could go on and on about what is really wrong with the film, but I will leave the thread to discusss the DVD itself. These special features could have and should have been on the last release, and Miramax is only releasing it now to try and gather support for Marshall's newest film. If not, why was it delayed until now when Memoirs of Geisha was coming out? Perhaps I could be wrong there, but you can't deny that is what it looks like. It's studio marketing that is getting rather predictable. Anyone could have guessed that the skimping of the extras on the first release could only mean a new one was coming, and it just took so long to get it out that what is included on this new release falls short in my opinion. I stand by my comments, and if you want to pick this one up by all means do so. I just feel that this is just the studio trying to make more money off of people and the release comes about 2 years too late.
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#6 of 65 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted December 18 2005 - 05:02 PM

Thanks for the review! How does the video hold up during the last number between Velma and Roxy when they are doing that bit of fast dancing near the end credits? I remember the original DVD's video compression of those scenes as being not too good (the shimmy of all that reflective light off the dresses and background just got lost into smeary-looking video).
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#7 of 65 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted December 18 2005 - 05:39 PM



Okay, Josh. I guess I figured if you were posting in the official review thread of the Chicago SE DVD, you at least liked the film...even if you were disappointed in the DVD release itself. So, if you didn't like the film and have no interest in the release of the disc....why all the angst, dude?! Posted Image Wouldn't it make more sense for fans of the film to figure out if the release is any good or "worth it"?

BTW, I think you mean "David" sted "Mike" in the third paragraph of your last post.

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#8 of 65 OFFLINE   RafaelB

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Posted December 19 2005 - 12:48 AM

Great review, Dave! Posted Image

Once I read the list of the extra features, I knew I had to double-dip on this one, most especially to see the clips of Liza as well as the extended musical sequences. "Chicago" is a brilliant piece of musical theatre and the film was a wonderful adaptation of it.

Rafael.

#9 of 65 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted December 19 2005 - 01:24 AM



David: Are there clips showing any of Liza's performance?! I gathered from the way you worded that section of your review that it was just a discussion of the event... The same with Chita Rivera: I figured the feature simply focused on her connection to the film version and probably didn't include much from her time with the Broadway version of Chicago.

Amy bonus materials highlighting performances recorded from Broadway performances/stars would be HUGE! Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#10 of 65 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted December 19 2005 - 01:44 AM

Josh, I CLEARLY stated that there was NOTHING WRONG with the "front heavy" character of the mix...that this was entirely appropriate for a "stage musical" and that the film presents the 5.1 mix exactly in my mind as it should. While I'm all for open discussion, your comments are bordering on thread-farting. We realize that you didn't like the film, and that without having seen the special features yourself (and not having liked the film) you're prepared to tell us that you don't think they are worth the double dip. Thanks for sharing...let's move on! BTW, the actors *do* have the spot-light in many of the bonus documentaries on the disc. There isn't any single special feature dedicated to just one actor, but their comments are interspersed quite a bit througout them all. Mike, Sadly, no film/video record of Liza's performance in that role exists to this day (grrr)...However...there *is* a very special moment on this DVD where we see Lisa sing her song for a television audience...and it ends up being a duet with the original performer. Very touching. A gem on the disc! Patrick, to my eyes that closing number *did* look a bit better on the new disc. I know what you mean about the old disc (BTW, that number looked pretty "stuttery" on film as well). I'll give that scene another close a/b and post back the details...
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#11 of 65 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted December 19 2005 - 02:15 AM

Just to be fair, that scene is a torture test for MPEG-2 compression.
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#12 of 65 OFFLINE   Will_B

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Posted December 19 2005 - 04:46 AM

Liza, fine, but Bebe Newirth was the star of the revival, which led to this film. It would have been nice if they'd included a recording of the Bebe version of the stage musical.
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#13 of 65 OFFLINE   RafaelB

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Posted December 19 2005 - 06:58 AM

Bebe played Velma Kelly and not Roxie Hart, who this story focuses on, both onstage and film, and the revival cast recording is available already. The great bit about Liza is that her peformance in Chicago was it wasn't advertised and there were no recordings made from it, except for this one bti from a talk show. I, for one, don't think it was only Ms. Neuwirth that made this revival a hit. It was timely, had great writing/music and choreography, and is just a damn good show. Why do you think it's quickly approaching it's 10th year on Broadway without anyone of the original cast? Rafael.

#14 of 65 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted December 19 2005 - 08:19 AM

Great review, David. Thanks.
Anyone who's genuinely interested in this movie and/or the musical will have been wondering, like I did, if it was worth the double-dip. I think your review decides it for me at least: I'm going to pick this one up (and I'm not even interested in the DTS track Posted Image ).


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#15 of 65 OFFLINE   DeeF

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Posted December 19 2005 - 08:29 AM

I like Chicago OK, but I was disappointed in a lot of it, particularly Richard Gere's so-called "tap" dance, which is shot from the back and cropped and edited to the point of... you can't really tell whether it's him or not. One of the great pleasures in a musical is seeing the performers really doing it, really dancing or singing or performing with style and skill. Just watch Ginger Rogers dancing in "Pick Yourself Up" from Swing Time, and you'll know what I mean. My biggest gripe with this disk (which I've already bought) is the lack of certain kinds of features, like commentary from the actors. And there is a big hole in the documentary, which doesn't mention the revival of the show, the most successful revival in Broadway history (directed by Ann Reinking). It was the revival which sparked interest in a movie, but the revival goes unmentioned in the documentary. All in all, save for the very short footage of Liza (the story told about her is also pretty much fabricated -- why not have John Kander tell us the real truth?) I wouldn't rush out to buy this disk -- it's just not that much better than the original disk, itself nothing to write home about. Sorry, David, and all of you who are big fans.

#16 of 65 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted December 19 2005 - 02:37 PM


Well...Gere *did* perform that tap-dance number...100% him. The fact that the art direction decided to stylize the look by shadowing his sillouette and covering his face slightly with a hat really ruins the movie *that* much for you?

If you enjoy seeing song and dance numbers performed by artists really doing it, Chicago has a bounty of such talent. Catherine Zeta-Jones' performance of Velma is one of the very best I've ever seen...on stage or in film. Her power, her strength, her incredible energy is almost frightening and her skill at capturing the essence of her character in perfect movement and voice is tops.

I guess if diming the lights and shooting him from behind while Richard Gere does his very own tap-dance routine is the worst you can come up with then that's not too bad...

Posted Image
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#17 of 65 OFFLINE   LarryH

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Posted December 19 2005 - 02:56 PM

If the supplementary material had been 16x9 enhanced, I would have purchased this without hesitation. As it is now, I'll just have to see how good a deal I can get on it and how much money I have left in the budget after getting this week's other releases.

#18 of 65 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted December 19 2005 - 03:03 PM

David: Even I'm not going to say Richard Gere can dance. I really don't think he can. At least not enough to dance in a major motion picture. I believe the routine was edited in a way to atone for his many shortcomings in this regard.

His was bad casting on my part...but not enough to ruin the film for me.



I usually think of Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire dancing to Begin the Beguine from Broadway Melody of 1940! Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#19 of 65 OFFLINE   DeeF

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Posted December 20 2005 - 12:44 AM

I agree about Catherine Zeta-Jones, a good performer (starred in musicals in the West End). But... and it's a big but... this movie doesn't show her off to advantage at all. All the performers are edited to death, and it makes me angry and a little bit bored. The reason I chose the example of Ginger Rogers, is that she *isn't* Fred Astaire, somebody known purely for her dancing (she wasn't a patch on Eleanor Powell, for instance). And yet, there she is, without a single cut, singing and dancing as well as anybody, better. Richard Gere's tapdance in Chicago is reprehensible and should be removed. What's really funny, in the documentary he mentions that he couldn't tap dance, why did they cast him for this tapdancing part? Huh? Jerry Orbach isn't a tap dancer either, the part doesn't require dancing (usually). Speaking of performers really surprising you with their talent, watch Christopher Walken's sleazy striptease in Pennies from Heaven, a stupendous achievement that makes Richard's number look little more than high school.

#20 of 65 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted December 20 2005 - 02:01 AM

Agreed that Gere's dancing talents aren't the world's most refined (and that the stylized dance number was probably a way to visually atone for it...you know...razzle dazzle and they'll never catch wise)...but other than that I thought Gere was a great choice for his role. p.s. yes...Disney has GOT to learn to do 16x9 encoded bonus material. And with HD (blu-ray) right around the corner...you'd think it would be a natural progression (given that they've been talking about how they can't wait to do HD bonus material on Blu-ray).
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