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 12/08/2003 | LouLou_83
Member since : 30/11/-0001
Reviews : 21
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Excellent
Pro The songs
Cons Not for non musical lovers
very helpful
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Story
Characters / Performances
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Soundtrack

"Murderess Row Where The Wannabes Go"

It’s the 1920’s in downtown Chicago where murder has almost become an art and so called crimes of passion result in celebrity status for many of the females currently occupying the city’s famed Murderess Row. Blonde bombshell Roxie Hart(Renee Zelleweger) is married to loyal and dependable mechanic Amos(John C. Reilly) who’d do anything to make her happy but her overwhelming desire to be famous causes her to stray. Temptation proves just too much for Roxie when, after years of dreaming of fame as a Vaudeville star, handsome furniture salesman Fred Casely(Dominic West) lures her into his bedroom with promises of contacts on the Vaudeville circuit.

Roxie’s shocked when just hours after she witnesses a fantastic performance by one of her idols, Vaudeville star Velma Kelly(Catherine Zeta Jones), Velma finds herself on Murderess Row when her husband Charlie and sister Veronica are found dead shortly after she catches them doing "number 17, the spread eagle" Together. Yet just one short month later when Roxie discovers Fred’s contacts were nothing but a figment of his imagination conjured up as a helpful device in his quest to bed her, she also finds herself reaching for a gun and is finally on the same bill as Velma Kelly. Only rather than having her name up in lights it’s simply on the list of those on Murderess Row. And the District Attorney says that this is a hanging offence.

Cue Billy Flynn(Richard Gere) on his white horse in full armour. But will he be Roxie’s shining knight? He’s the best criminal lawyer the state of Illinois has to offer and his services come at a price, namely $5,000. Money Roxie doesn’t have. But when an unlikely benefactor pays for his services Roxy finds herself vying for the arrogant lawyer’s attention. He’s good and he knows it. He even has the nerve to boast that if "Jesus Christ was alive in Chicago today and had $5,000 things might have been different". And Roxie’s not his only client in Cook County Jail. Fresh from her money making days as a Vaudeville vixen Velma Kelly has also managed to produce Billy’s fee and isn’t happy that now Roxie is on the scene Flynn seems more concerned with making Roxie a local legend than working on tactics to secure her own freedom. While Roxie’s column inches are increasing faster than the meter in a taxi cab Velma is fast fading into obscurity and consequently does her best to make Roxie’s life a misery. But Billy’s doing his job, the public can’t get enough of the vulnerable and naïve "Roxie Hart" he has invented and it looks like freedom may be on the cards for the guilty girlie.

But nothing is ever that easy. It appears Velma and Roxy have started a trend and the new inmates want Billy’s services too. As her trial approaches Roxie’s becoming old news and Velma will do any thing to secure her own freedom, even at the expense of Roxie’s. Will Roxie become the first woman Chicago’s ever hanged or will Billy save the day? And if she ever does walk free will she succeed in fulfilling her dreams or will the world of jazz and liquor prove to be her downfall? One thing’s for sure even if Roxie is never famous she’s definitely infamous.

This film is nothing short of amazing, with six Oscars to its name, including that for Best Picture, it is 109 minutes of dazzling entertainment. The adaptation from stage to screen is entirely successful and the music and choreography combined make a spectacular film. When a character begins to sing the dull monotony of prison life is often contrasted against a dream world where they are in fact performing to an audience reflecting Roxie’s dream life. Having an announcer to introduce each number also contributes to this effect. This could have become a farce when the character’s descended into song but the strength of the musical numbers and the acting prevented it from doing so. At one point I actually forgot that I was in the cinema rather than the theatre and the urge to clap was so overwhelming that I nearly had to sit on my hands.

My favourite number is definitely "Cell Block Tango" performed by Velma and other inmates explaining to Roxie how they ended up in jail. As Roxie settles down for her first night in the cells the beat to the song begins simply as the dripping of a tap, then a warden’s footsteps as they walk over the cells and finally another inmate tapping their fingers. This is very clever, effective and a great build up to a lively number where the girls on Murderess Row proclaim "he had it coming" in an attempt to justify their actions. Apparently "it was a murder but not a crime". But then when facing death they would say that wouldn’t they? This number features some of the funniest lines in the film and the choreography is again fantastic.

Another highlight is "We both reached for the gun". This song takes place when Roxie has her first press conference and shows her as Billy Flynn’s ventriloquist’s dummy. This scene is fantastically done, showing how Billy is putting every word in Roxie’s mouth and is also very funny. In one section Roxie slips out of character giving a glimpse of what she is really like revealing just how much Billy is manipulating the press in her favour and is hilarious. Renee Zelleweger and Richard Gere are amazing in this scene and make it one of the films most memorable moments.

The strength of the cast is really what makes rather than breaks this film version of the 1970’s musical. Never having been much of a Catherine Zeta Jones fan in the past I was apprehensive as to how she would fare in this film but as soon as she launched into a captivating rendition of "All That Jazz" just a few minutes into the film I was impressed and I remained that way throughout the film. Her voice is strong and her portrayal of hard nosed Velma who will do anything to retain her fame is spot on. In "Cell Block Tango" the passion with which she delivers Velma’s story is completely convincing and this is definitely my favourite bit of that number. She completely deserved the Best Supporting Actress Oscar she received for this role.

Renee Zelleweger confirms her place as one of Hollywood’s top actresses with another top performance matching, if not exceeding, the great performance she previously gave as a certain British singleton with a love of big knickers. She looks amazing, although a little thin, and her voice is great. It’s just a shame she was up against Nicole Kidman’s performance in The Hours at the Oscars, otherwise in my opinion she would have run away with it. Prior to seeing the film I had hear some negative feedback about Richard Gere’s voice but in my opinion he sounded fine, if not a little British, and completely made some numbers such as "We Both Reached For The Gun" and "Razzle Dazzle".

Another notable performance was Queen Latifah as warden Mama Morton, who is not averse to accepting bribes, especially in her solo number "When You’re Good To Mama". The costumes are dazzling, especially Roxie’s silver dress and the lighting used is very effective, often having a dark background with a simple spotlight highlighting the character singing, giving a very showbiz feel. The soundtrack to this film is obviously the musical numbers and is great, I loved this film so much I actually bought the soundtrack straight after leaving the cinema. It features all the major numbers and also a track by Anastacia "Love Is A Crime" which is not in the film.

Now out to rent or own on video and DVD Chicago has a 12 certificate due to some scenes of a sexual and violent nature. This is definitely not for non musical lovers but for those of us who loved Moulin Rouge and always wanted to be Sandy/Danny(delete as applicable) from Grease when we were children this is an amazing tale of murder, liquor and all that jazz that will have you singing and dancing around your bedroom for hours afterwards and is one you’re sure to watch over and over and over.


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Comments on this review

  • eve6kicksass published 08/11/2003
    After reading your wonderful reviews of LEGALLY BLONDE 2 and THE CUTTING EDGE (both of which I perfectly agreed with), I decided to go ahead and check out all your ops. This was another terrific op, though I must confess (even though I love musicals) that I think this film was wayyyy tooo overrated and didnt deserve all the hype it got. I would have given it 4 stars...in other words, i still liked it very much, and many of the details in your op I certainly would adhere and agree to. What annoyed me the most was the way director Rob Marhall hammers across every single song as if its the closing number and he uses musical-style cutting to the point of utter distraction (like I said, overdone). All in all, entertaining, but it most certainly did not deserve Best Picture...I think it should have went to either THE PIANIST or ROAD TO PERDITION. Outstanding op, just the same...look forward to reading your other ones...Chris xxxx
  • KarenUK published 18/08/2003
    I saw this on DVD the other day & *loved* it :-) I want to buy it now & the CD.
  • Badger_Boy published 14/08/2003
    Great opinion. The story itself sounds great but I'm not really into musicals. Steve :)
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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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