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)"
After a two-year break I'm itching to get typing again. May be rusty but be nice! Film reviews to trickle in :)
Chicago. The windy city. It's the 1920's when health and safety concerns are of no importance to anyone. The time is filled with booze, sex, jazz and apparently, murder too. Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is the star in a vaudeville show. She's got the dazzling star quality, the voice, the moves and the looks. Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) wants it. She also has the looks, the voice and the moves. But she also quite inconveniently has a wretched boyfriend (Dominic West) who she kills after he lies about giving her fame and a career on stage. Roxie's off to jail. Things aren't going so smoothly for Velma either. She kills her husband and sister after catching the two of them in bed together. Looks as if she's also headed to jail. So they both end up in the Cook County Jail: ruled by the corrupt Mama Morton (Queen Latifah), these female inmates only have one person on their mind. Billy Flynn (Richard Gere). Why? He's never lost a case. He's that good, spinning the accused into victims. He sets up press fame for his clients, leads them into trial and with various atrocious lies and acts, they get away scot-free. So it's understandable to see these women competing so hard for this man. Velma and Roxie are the frontrunners but who will Billy prioritise to represent?Infamous for its controversial Best Picture Oscar win at the 2003 Academy Awards, "Chicago" has generated a lot of bad press over the years ever since the scandalous incident. Although it's an undeniable truth that "Chicago" in fact was not the best in its category (this was competing with "The Pianist," "The Hours," and "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" for god's sake), as a musical, "Chicago" is a stylish, visually impressive, sexy and glamorous treat.
Marshall must have taken a big leap of faith when casting many first-time singers and dancers to do exactly just that in front of the camera, but this gamble pays off enormously. Sure Zeta-Jones had a career on the West End and Latifah had a successful singing career prior to her move to acting but the biggest, most pleasant surprise comes from Zellweger, who looks more than confident strutting her stuff on the screen, closely followed by John C. Reilly (playing Roxie's husband, Amos).The musical numbers are interpreted as Roxie's imaginary take on what's really going on. "Chicago" doesn't hold back or hesitate but goes in for the full blast even from the beginning and with the rapid, energetic intro, we get to see the film's first number "All That Jazz" a scene that truly establishes Zeta-Jones as an outstanding musical performer. Her powerful, bold vocals and endless sex appeal is perfect for the role and she carries the role with much confidence. Her other big solo "I Can't Do It Alone" shows she can dance, too. Zellweger shows off a more feminine, thinner voice than Zeta-Jones' something very fitting for her character. She lacks the sexuality of Zeta-Jones in both her appearance and her voice, but she has a very cheeky, childish charm about her that also slowly starts adding a bitchy quality as she gets corrupted by her polluted surroundings. Gere also shows he's competent in the singing and dancing departments. A big round of applause is also in order for Gere's remarkable tap-dancing sequence.
Benefiting from limitless singing talents that make up both the leading and supporting roles, "Chicago"'s musical scenes are daring, original and most importantly, entertaining. Latifah's "When You're Good to Mama," Reilly's "Mister Cellophane," and the female inmates' "Cell Block Tango" all deserve praise for their unique performances, but also for the sheer spectacle that is set up accompanying the musical work. Going back and forth between the grim, grey, real world and the camp, flashy musical world of Roxie's imagination, this constant time shift emphasises the spectacular visuals director Rob Marshall is able to display. His stage is massive and even better, extraordinary lighting and costumes that leave very little to the imagination also follow.The technical achievements are hard to fault here, boasting an impressive ray of set designs that involve a glossy nightclub, a chilling, unfriendly prison, a crowded courtroom, a hectic press conference and an odd puppet show. And the theatre trained Marshall treats these many locations simply: as a stage. He's not afraid to decorate them - does he go a little too over the top? Depends what you're looking for whilst watching this. If you're searching for some mindless bit of fun with great music, the camp atmosphere probably won't bother you. But it can also be argued that Marshall does seem to forget that he's supposed to directing a film. Is it too much style over too little substance? It's true the plot is not only preposterous but also very light-hearted. This gives room for some cheap black comedy which also doesn't help if the film itself wants to be taken seriously.
"Chicago" solidly delivers 113 minutes of light, guilty pleasure, pushing its boundaries with its set of sexy lingerie and a plot that surrounds a corrupt legal system of one unstable, dodgy city. For fans of the musical genre, this will turn out to be an extremely satisfactory, deliriously entertaining piece of work. For those not too familiar or at all keen on musicals in general, give this a go - you might be pleasantly surprised.
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