Chicago (DVD)

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Chicago (DVD)

This Hollywood adaptation of the classic Broadway musical sparkles with glamour and reverberates with the energy of good, old-fashioned song and dance...

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Review of "Chicago (DVD)"

published 23/01/2003 | bubblegum_princess
Member since : 01/08/2002
Reviews : 223
Members who trust : 193
About me :
Super
Pro Stylish, sexy, great songs, big stars- what more could you want?
Cons Violent in places
very helpful
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Story
Characters / Performances
Special Effects
Soundtrack

"One for the man haters..."

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery. All those things we hold near and dear to our hearts…

---Plot---

Chicago in the early 1930s. A city where killing is a form of entertainment and where, if you’re lucky, you can get away with murder. Chicago tells the story of Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger), a woman who killed her lover and is sent to prison facing the death penalty. But Roxie’s biggest ambition is to be famous and have her own vaudeville act, and she soon discovers that, with a little bending of the truth and a little media manipulation, her dreams could become reality. Cue hotshot lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), a flash kind of guy who, by turning every trial into a media circus, has never lost a case and claims that “If Jesus Christ was alive today, living in Chicago and had $5000 things might have turned out a little differently”. In prison Roxie meets Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a vaudeville star who shot her husband and sister after catching them in bed together. Cue intense rivalry between Roxie and Velma as they each battle for their place in the spotlight.

---Background information---

Chicago was written by John Kander and Fred Ebb (the same people who brought you Cabaret) in the 1970s and has experienced a fantastic revival in recent years. And so, in true jump-on-the-bandwagon style, the movie industry bosses and the director, Rob Marshall, decided that a film version of Chicago would be a big money spinner and injected $30 million into it. Like the meek, compliant film-goer that I am I was incredibly excited about seeing this film and dragged all my friends along with me!

---What did I think of it?---

From the minute this film starts you know you’re in for a treat. Catherine Zeta-Jones’s rendition of ‘All that Jazz’ is fantastic- sultry and sexy, capturing the feel of the jazz scene perfectly. The darkness and bleakness of the story is contrasted fabulously in its incredibly fun and glitzy sequinned and feathered fantasy sequences. The burst into song does not jar as it is nearly always a fantasy, providing a deeper view into the minds of the characters and giving relief from the tension of Roxie’s fast approaching trial. One thing that particularly stood out for me (and this will sound pretty wierd!) was the lighting- really stylish and dramatic, often just lighting one character against a black screen, which looks stunning and highlights the strong cabaret feel which the film creates. Although quite a few songs have been cut out of the film version, the story works perfectly well without them and unless you knew the stage version pretty well, you'd never notice they were missing. One of the best scenes in the film is the Cell Block Tango, where each murderess tells the story of how she ended up in prison, singing of how "he had it coming". The Bob Fosse style choreography is simply stunning here- violent and sexy- with the women looking stunning in black corsets, stockings and suspenders etc. (although my friend did point out that using red handkerchiefs to represent blood was very GCSE drama!) Another great scene was Roxie's press conference where Billy Flynn uses her as a ventriloquist's dummy, with the tabloid reporters as puppets on strings controlled bgy Billy- a scene which must have taken ages to shoot but looks fantastic! One of the main problems with the stage show for me, was the fact that it is quite difficult to have much sympathy for Roxie- after all, she is completely guilty!- but the film cleverly does a bit more in terms of motivation and characterisation, making Roxie such a tragic character but one that you can’t help loving! And the bitchy rivalry between Roxie and Velma is fantastic!

So, the question you’re all wondering… Can these actors actually sing? Well… in a word- yes! Catherine Zeta-Jones is sensational but then she began her career in musical theatre so its not too surprising that she is a good singer and a stunning dancer. Richard Gere is perfectly cast as Billy Flynn and does an adequate job with his songs (though the sight of him in boxer shorts and a vest I felt was quite unnecessary- a man of his age should know better!), but in every scene, it is Renee Zellweger that your eye is drawn to. Her voice isn’t that amazing and her dancing doesn’t stand out next to Zeta-Jones, but somehow, she has something about her that makes you really want to watch her on screen. I don’t know whether this is due to the fact that her character has undergone a more in-depth characterisation or simply the fact that she’s blonde, but she has this amazing sparkle. One thing I would say though Renee- put on a bit of weight for god’s sake! Protruding ribs are so last year! In a direct contrast to Renee’s skinniness, the other star of the show for me was Matron Mama Morton (Queen Latifah), the corrupt prison warden who ‘looks after’ the girls as long as they ‘look after’ her, if you know what I mean. With her tremendous cleavage (seriously, it’s amazing- I’ve never seen anything like it!) and strong jazz style voice, she puts in a fantastic performance, as does John C. Reilly who plays Roxie’s doormat-type husband, Amos (a role my mum informs me was played for ages by Les Dennis- oh how life imitates art!). Other minor roles include Christine Baranski (from tv show Cybil) as Mary Sunshine, the reporter who follows Roxie's story, and Lucy Lui as an scantily clad heiress who murders her husband after finding him in bed with two other women. Another thing to note is the cameo role from Chita Rivera, who played the original Roxie Hart on Broadway in the 70s (she’s the Lesley Joseph look-alike Roxie meets when she arrives at the prison)

---Cast List---
Roxie Hart- Renee Zellweger
Velma Kelly- Catherine Zeta-Jones
Billy Flynn- Richard Gere
Amos Hart- John C. Reilly
Mama Morton- Queen Latifah
Mary Sunshine- Christine Baranski
Jazz band leader- Taye Diggs
Rich heiress murderer- Lucy Lui

Directed by Rob Marshall, rated 12A and lasts 1 hour 40 minutes.

If your boyfriend doesn't quite come up to scratch, just take him to see this and he'll be too scared to step out of line! So, reach for your eyeliner, whip out that sexy underwear, slip on some high heels and get yourself down to that cinema now!

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Comments on this review

  • the-grim published 04/05/2004
    I watched this the other day. Despite the slowness in parts, it was great! I especially liked the see-through song :) x
  • jeylee published 06/11/2003
    Although another great op, I have to disagree with you. I didn't like this at all. When i went ot see it, i was trying to get in to see 8 Mile but it was sold out, and to tell you the truth I felt like walking out 10 mins in. Maybe it's just cause i'm a guy, or that my only previous experience with Hollywood musicals at the time had been with the Moulin Rouge, which had amazed me, but I found this film very slow and dull, which for me overshadowed the sexy side to it. What the hey, I still stayed and watched it... I like to get my money's worth!
  • JessL published 24/09/2003
    I absolutely love this film - my favourite bit is where they describe how and why they killed their husbands! x
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Product Information : Chicago (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

This Hollywood adaptation of the classic Broadway musical sparkles with glamour and reverberates with the energy of good, old-fashioned song and dance. As the film leaps into its first riveting act, Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), one half of the famous number she performs with her sister, arrives at the night club late, dishevelled, and with blood on her hands. Nonetheless, she goes onstage unhindered and wows the crowd with her shimmying rendition of 'All That Jazz'. Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) a young blonde who dreams of someday being famous like Velma, watches from the audience with eyes full of envy. Later, as the cops pick up Velma for the murder of her sister, sending her fame to all-time heights as she becomes a tabloid sensation, Roxie also commits a crime of passion--shooting a lover who falsely promised to secure her cabaret debut. The girls wind up together in jail, where Mama Morton (Queen Latifah), a compassionate guard, is their only hope of redemption; and Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) is the lawyer who can get them out. There, through wonderfully familiar songs like 'Razzle Dazzle', 'Cell-Block Tango', and 'Cellophane Man' Roxie and Velma tell their story of competing for bad-girl celebrity. Director Rob Marshall presents a loveable CHICAGO that shares all the grit and grime of the Bob Fosse Broadway original with phenomenal performances by this grouping of Hollywood stars. The dizzying camerawork and dazzling sets make an easy transition from stage to film.

Release Details

DVD Region: DVD

Release date: 12/09/2005, 04/08/2003

No of Discs: 2, 1

Catalogue No: BUA 0013401, BED 888819

Barcode: 8717418056377, 5017188888196

Voice: Danny Elfman

Choreographer: Bob Fosse

Music: Fred Ebb

Studio(s): WALT DISNEY STUDIOS HOME ENTERTAINM; TECHNICOLOR DISTRIBUTION SERVICES

Author: Bob Fosse, Fred Ebb

Director of Photography: Dion Beebe

Screenwriter: Bill Condon

Producer: Martin Richards

Composer: Danny Elfman, Fred Ebb

Languages

Main Language: English

Professional Reviews

Review: "...Fresh and daring....Queen Latifah and John C. Reilly are the surprise standouts..." (Box Office, p.59, 01/03/2003)<br><br>"...Zeta-Jones, all legs and growls, has found her calling card..." (Film Comment, p.73, 01/01/2003)<br><br>"...It's Zeta-Jones who keeps you watching from start to finish....She refuses to let you go....If musicals are dreams, she is their greatest dreamer..." (Los Angeles Times, p.C8, 27/12/2002)<br><br>"...[The actors] deliver sizzling performances....This tawdry, hard-as-nails carnival of ghouls generates plenty of fireworks..." (Movieline, p.62, 01/02/2003)<br><br>"...It's the raw expenditure of energy and the canniness of the staging that should pull audiences in and keep them rooted..." (New York Times, p.E1, 27/12/2002)<br><br>"...Zellweger wins our hearts. That's what makes her dangerous. Just like the movie....Dynamite..." (Rolling Stone, p.76, 23/01/2003)<br><br>"...[Jones] makes nightclub singer Velma a droll fishnet virtuoso..." (Sight and Sound, p.41-2, 01/02/2003)<br><br>"...CHICAGO shows how much the element of surprise is missing from today's movies....It's part of the basic Zeta-Jones bio that she can really sing, and, wow, can she..." (USA Today, p.7D, 27/12/2002)<br><br>

Technical Information

Special Features: Audio Commentary, Deleted Scene, Behind The Scenes Footage

Dubbing Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English<br>Dolby Digital 2.0 English

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0

Award Information

BAFTA: Best Supporting Actress 2002 (Catherine Zeta Jones)

OSCAR: Best Actress In A Supporting Role 2002 (Catherine Zeta Jones)

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