Chicago (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Contrary to what the majority of people think out there, I feel Chicago wasn’t the best movie of last year. I feel that was Adaptation. But I don’t run things and the Academy saw fit to deem it with 6 Oscars, including one for Best Picture. Ok, fine. Chicago was the second true “musical” in the last few years, with the first being Moulin Rouge (a film I thought was much better than this as it was more original and I feel, more entertaining). Granted, the musical genre is something that many had thought gone the way of the dodo as the last musical to win Best Picture was Oliver! and that was in 1968. So while it’s good to see that our movie stars of today can still belt out tunes; are they the same as in the Golden Age of Hollywood or are they just capitalizing on the new “in thing”? Now don’t get me wrong, Chicago was a great movie, I got my money’s worth and it’s something that I’ll watch more than once, I just don’t feel it was the best movie of last year. Suffice it to say, I was a bit irked that Richard Gere didn’t get nominated for an Academy Award (his female co-stars did and Zeta-Jones-Douglas won) too. But alas…

The film takes place in the Windy City during the Roaring 20’s and everyone was having a grand old time. Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) dreams of stardom and while dancing it up on stages, she hopes to find her lucky break. Feeling that she’ll be able to flee her husband, Amos (John C. Reilly), once she has achieved success she can get on with her life and be truly happy. However, her life takes a shocking turn as she meets a man who tells her that he can make her a star. Playing on her dreams, he has his sexual way with her and once she finds out that he has no more connections in show business than she does; she shoots him in a fit of rage. In prison, she meets Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who is doing time for committing a double murder herself. These chicks aren’t that nice! Kelly is the current buzz of the media and her incarceration has only given her more exposure than before (she was a dancer and everything Roxie had aspired to be). We then meet the slick lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere who plays lawyers better?) who is only interested in making Roxie look innocent and wants his own name in the papers as well. Cocky and arrogant, Flynn plays the papers like a piano and in the same time has managed to make Roxie the current “media darling” and hence forcing Velma Kelly into the shadows. But, as always, people’s 15 minutes of fame must disperse and it’s not long that both Roxie and Velma are starving for attention.

Lest I forget to mention, many songs are belted out along the way and the soundtrack does have some very catchy tunes; this is what made the movie so likeable to such a diverse audience. The movie, of course, was based on the Broadway play and I feel it only is making the leap to the big screen due to the resurgence of the musical. That’s not bad, per se, but the timing is always everything. While Chicago is a good movie, I’m not sure how well it will stand the test of time. Musicals are like that, but this doesn’t have the same feeling in it as Singin’ in the Rain or The Wizard of Oz. Are we really going to be singing “When You’re Good to Mama” and “Razzle Dazzle” fifty years from now? I doubt it. But to the actors’ credit, they did all of their own singing and I was quite impressed with all, especially Zellweger whose “normal” voice is very high and nasal-like. Nevertheless, this movie raked in the money and the awards and I’m sure that there’s plenty of fans out there that will pick this up.

Video: How does it look?

”Chicago” has a very glitzy look and feel to it and wisely so, it’s a stylized musical that takes place partly on stage with the rest being a typical live action movie. Several of the scenes are very dark, contrasted with neon lights to give it a very surreal look. The Blu-ray transfer adds new life to this movie which didn’t look bad before, but as expected the HD nature of the film adds more detail, depth and a bit more vividness (is that a word) to the film. It’s not that “Chicago” ever really looked bad, even on the previous two incarnations of the film on DVD. The MPEG-4 transfer is rather new and Disney is doing a fine job of giving their catalog releases the deluxe treatment, especially for such famed films as this Best Picture winner. If it’s a good-looking transfer you’re after, suffice it to say that “Chicago” has never looked better.

Audio: How does it sound?

If we’re talking about audio, then the new PCM Uncompressed 48kHz/24-bit track simply rocks. As anyone who has seen this movie can imagine, the movie is very heavily focused on the audio and some of the musical numbers are among the best out there. I remember the previous DVD’s being fairly impressive and even having a DTS track to boot. While that DTS track isn’t present here, this uncompressed audio is certainly not lacking in the least. I heard subtle little nuances in the track that I don’t think I’ve ever picked up on before. Dialogue is, of course, very natural and all of your speakers (regardless of how many you have) will be blaring throughout. Quite simply, this disc is worth it for the audio alone. The “Movie Showcase” feature on this disc will take you to some of the highlights, for those impatient ones.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This Blu-ray disc doesn’t have all of the goodies that were found on the “Razzle Dazzle” editioin, but most have made the cut. We find the same commentary track with Marshall and Bill Condon along with the deleted musical number “Class” and “From Stage to Screen: The history of ‘Chicago’”. The second disc contains a number of featurettes starting off with some extended musical performances and “An Intimate Look at Director Rob Marshall”. Marshall is obviously very talented and this featurette showcases that. There are a couple of features on the Costume and Production design. For fans of musicals, “Chicago” is one of the better ones to come along in a while (and “Moulin Rouge”) and this Best Picture winner certainly deserves a spot in any collection.

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