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)"
Chicago is the story of Roxie Hart whom is sent to prison after shooting and killing a man. Roxie - a wannabe starlet - then meets Velma Kelly a once Jazz star who was sent to prison after murdering her sister and husband and Hart learns how to manipulate the media and turn her 'style' into a brand. But with the threat of a hanging looming over her head and the desperate need to be famous will she be able to survive the media machine?Chicago prances onto the big screen in a bombastic fusion of colour, sex, murder and style with brilliant choreography, catchy musical numbers and enough razzle-dazzle to fuel a small city. Jammed packed with glitz and 1920's glamour it grabs you, shakes you and then leaves you gasping for more as it goes out on a shining, shimmering high. The bright visuals perfectly contrast the dark story and the songs really are infectious and cleverly written - with the talented cast belting them out with passion and power. A sophisticated, contempory and enjoyable modern movie musical.
Chicago's choreography is truly awe inspiring and brings the music to life with grace and gritty exuberance with hundreds of dancers coming together to tell their own little, highly seductive tale of deceit and lies. Mixing the poise and accuracy of ballet with the roaring high-energy style of 20's dance, the constant movement keeps the audience interested and the story alive. The routines are very sexually charged which really accents the point of the songs and the story and each dancer interacts with the bright set pieces to create a tapestry of beauty and sleaze. Just looking at the Cellblock Tango puts the scale of the dance pieces into perspective - what starts as a 6 woman tango turns into a fully blown extravaganza of lights and nifty dance moves. Simply as a showcase for amazing dancers doing their thing Chicago works - because the routines are powerful, poised and passionate -much like the goddess's performing them- with the right balance of high-brow and low-brow shimmies and shakes.For all the films blaring visual eye-candy and inventive set pieces - Chicago is all about the music, the enticing, catchy, brash, engaging music. From the high speed thrills of all That Jazz to the heart-wrenching lyricism of Mr. Cellophane Chicago has something to offer everyone and the way they are played out is just hugely enjoyable. When Your Good To Momma sees Queen Latifah at her sparkling best, her voice is surprisingly suited to the show tune and her acting skill and sense of humour radiated from the screen. Roxie lets Renee Zellweger show off her vocal talents with a catchy tune with a nice beat that beautifully fits in with the evolution of her character. For me Nowadays is the show stopper - it isn't the most extravagant or the most memorable, but whenever I hear it (especially in the final few scenes) I am always reminded how much I like the lyrics and the tune always gets me off guard. It has a message and is a subtle and quiet contrast wit some of the more shocking tunes. We Both reached For The Gun is another good one - with a message about manipulating the media and Richard Gere showing an impressive range. After seeing the show on the stage I heard 'Class' for the first time (it was edited from the film) and I honestly can't see why, it's a beautifully written song.
If I had one complaint about Chicago it would be that the story feels dated - the tale of lawyers and sleaze balls controlling the media doesn't feel as scaving as I'm sure it did in the 20's and the 70's when music was introduced to the story. The plotline doesn't really have as much to say as it thinks it does, yes there are some witty observations on the celebrity culture and manipulation of the media but it feel slightly staled and a bit forced. Its also fairly predictable with a few plot-twists which any movie (or theatre) goer should see coming a mile off - but this is covered up by some gems of dialogue and a nice twist ending. An ending which is uplifting, enjoyable and thought provoking all at the same time - with Catherine Zeta Jones and Renee Zellweger dancing their hearts out as the film reaches a surprisingly touching crescendo. The character development is far more accomplished than the story as a whole - by the end credits you feel as though you know the lead two characters, and whether you like them or not you will probably care what happens to them.Chicago seamlessly intersects fantasy like stage set sequences with moments of realism which allows the musical numbers to be separated from the main body of plot, whilst still enhancing the story. Rob Marshall's decision to set the music on a stage is a brilliant and surprising one as it split the fantasy from the reality - stopping the grittiness of the thing being clouded by the Hollywood glitz, without sacrificing the indulgence and sparkle of it all. Marshall's direction is wonderful - he just manages to bring the piece alive and adds great weight to the fairly flimsy story. His eye for visuals is second to none (as he showed recently with the vivid Memoirs of a Geisha ) and he instils a wonderful pace into the proceedings keeping everything feeling fresh. His camera does annoy it has to be said - he does a lot of switching angles which adds pace but splices up the action and eventually disorientates the audience.
Renee Zellweger plays Roxie Hart with passion and understanding - she embodies the character with energy and wit and despite her questionable dancing she really impresses. Essentially Roxie is a highly unlike able character who's moral are more than questionable and lack of discernable talent blaringly obvious to everyone but her. Much to Zellweger's credit Hart is represented in a three dimensional, rounded way and she adds a essence of naivety and childlike hopefulness that is not seen in the stage show. I see her as tragic character - someone who's whole life is ruled by a need to be famous - and one of her lines always catches me 'they didn't even want a picture…. I don't understand' after another murderess gets all the headlines and she is left outside in the cold. Infact her interpretation is quite heartbreaking and beautifully realised with that certain sort of star quality that is hard to define - she just knows Roxie and her dedication and enthusiasm for the role really pays off.Catherine Zeta Jones fairs much better in the dancing department - she is graceful, fluid and draws the audience in straight away with her energetic and unique style of dance. Her voice is equally impressive, powerful and huskily enjoyable she brings a huge amount of strength to her songs and like Zellweger her extreme dedication and belief in the project is evident throughout. As the fame seeking super-bitch she is highly believable with a spark and a slinky strength - feline and female she embodies the character with real energy and fun. Sadly, Richard Gere doesn't fare as well - with his dancing feeling stilted and unnatural , his voice underwhelming and interpretation of Billy Flynn is enjoyable but hardly inspired.
Surprisingly it is Queen Latifah who impresses the most - as mentioned above her solo 'When Your Good To Momma' is one of the highlights of the piece and her interpretation of Matron Momma Morgan is sexy, funny, scathing and moving - she is a breathe of fresh air. Her voice has a huge range and it is just so refreshing to see her in a different kind of role.Overall Chicago is a huge, epic, giant movie extravaganza that blasts from the big screen with style and poise. The music is sumptuous and exciting, the choreography frenetically enjoyable and acting surprising, moving and brilliant.
Product Information : Chicago (DVD)
Manufacturer's product descriptionThis 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.
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
Main Language: English
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>
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
BAFTA: Best Supporting Actress 2002 (Catherine Zeta Jones)
OSCAR: Best Actress In A Supporting Role 2002 (Catherine Zeta Jones)
Listed on Ciao since: 06/11/2005