The Cheetah Girls - One World: Extended Music Edition (Blu-ray)
Directed by Paul Hoen
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 88 minutes
Audio: PCM 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish
MSRP: $ 34.99
Release Date: December 16, 2008
Review Date: December 9, 2008
It comes as no surprise that after the Walt Disney Company’s producing such smash hit made-for-cable movies as the first two High School Musical films, Jump In!, and Camp Rock, it would be the Cheetah Girls’ turn to rock out with a new musical, One World. Truth to tell, Camp Rock was running on inspirational fumes, and, sad to say, One World isn’t any better. In fact, with a storyline borrowed from an old MGM musical and a handful of generic pop tunes of no special significance, One World is a colorful but empty enterprise. Except for an expensive looking production (filmed on location in India), One World is instantly forgettable the moment the movie is over. Tweens will likely go wild for the processed vocals, but the movie is disappointing in almost every way.
The three singing Cheetah Girls: Chanel (Adrienne Bailon), Dorinda (Sabrina Bryan), and Aqua (Kiely Williams) are hired by a young film director (Michael Steger) to make a Bollywood film in Mumbai. The original screenplay had called for one female star, but the director wants to change it because all three girls are so talented. However, his producer-uncle (Roshan Seth) insists only one girl be used, so the Cheetahs are pitted against one another to become the film’s star. Additional problems plague them. Though agreeing that boys are off limits during their trip, both Aqua and Chanel find themselves falling for boys while there all the time Dorinda wanders lonely through the streets trying her best to ignore the lure of a boy friend in Spain she had decided to dump because long distance relationships don’t work. They also find an initially unfriendly choreographer (Deepti Daryanani) on the film who doesn’t think Americans can dance well enough to be in Bollywood musicals.
MGM’s Give the Girl a Break had an identical story of three hopefuls all competing for one star spot in a show, each girl being championed by one of the members of the production team, and the MGM movie gave each of its three female stars (Marge Champion, Debbie Reynolds, Helen Wood) a moment in the spotlight to show her strengths as a performer. One World follows a similar path though for some reason, the screenplay insists that Chanel is the best singer, Dorinda the best dancer, and Aqua the best actress. Actually, all three girls seem equally mediocre in all three disciplines, and for a non-fan of the Cheetah Girls, their voices all sound identical, a nasally whine with irritating overuse of melisma, overly processed and synthesized to remove any trace of uniqueness or vivacity that one gets from live singing. Fatima Robinson’s choreography is the standard sways, swoops, hops, and skips that many female rock acts now utilize, but it lacks the bouncy razzmatazz and show biz moxie of Kenny Ortega’s moves in High School Musical.
The eleven musical numbers have a sameness in sound and execution that defies singling more than one out for any special merit. That would be the imaginatively staged and sung “It Feels Like Love” which finds the three couples singing and moving about the city in some beautifully filmed patterns of loving duos intermingling among swaying trees, canoes in a lake, and over and under bridges to the film’s best tune. The screenplay’s predictable jealousies, break-ups, and reunions will not be taxing to follow even for the film’s youngest fans, and it all comes down to the big title song production number done in eye-poppingly colorful Indian costumes but no more reminiscent of Bollywood than any other number in the movie. This is Disney pop-rock all the way.
Though shown on the Disney Channel in 1.33:1, the Blu-ray features the widescreen (1.78:1) framing just as the Blu-rays of High School Musical 2 and Camp Rock did, and the presentation is in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness is exemplary in the transfer, and color is brilliantly and deeply hued though occasionally it seems too hot and somewhat overdone. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.
The PCM 5.1 (4.6 Mbps) audio mix certainly pumps the music through the entire soundfield, and since the film is music-heavy, there is a great deal of surround activity, but the possibilities for other ambient sounds that could be used to give the film a more expansive range simply aren’t exploited at all. And unlike other musicals on Blu-ray that have superlative soundtracks (Chicago, Hairspray, Sweeney Todd, admittedly all theatrical films and not made-for-cable) where you can hear individual pieces of the orchestra in select channels, the sound mix here is mushy and indistinct.
The blooper reel is presented in 1080p and features the girls doing a lot of breaking up during filming. One of the least interesting reels of flubs, it runs 2 ½ minutes.
The film may be watched with the Cheetah Spots feature turned on. It features pop-up facts (some contributed by Cheetah Girls fans) with occasional video commentary by the girls, too.
The film may be viewed in sing along mode which will flash lyrics as subtitles or nine of the songs can be viewed individually with their lyrics on the screen.
There are three music videos which can be viewed separately: “One World” (4 minutes), “Cheetah Love” (3 ¼ minutes), and “Dance Me If You Can” (4 minutes). They are all presented in 480i.
The disc case contains a package of temporary glitter tattoos and instructions on their application.
There are previews on the disc in 1080p for, among others, Pinocchio, Earth, Space Buddies, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.
Tweens are going to love Cheetah Girls - One World just as much as they did the stars’ two previous made-for-cable romps. (This is the first one that does not have Raven Symoné as one of the group.) The Blu-ray release is the way to experience the movie with its lush widescreen picture and uncompressed sound.