Dreamgirls Blu-ray Review
PictureDreamgirls comes presented with a near-identically gorgeous 1080p High Definition presentation of the movie on both formats, in the film's original theatrical widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Although this is no Michael Bay blockbuster, it still has plenty of sumptuous colours and set-pieces that really come alive through this Hi-Def representation. Detail is excellent throughout, with brilliant clarity, no noticeable softness and no apparent grain, even in the higher contrast sequences. The colour scheme, as aforementioned, is quite broad and glamorous - as you would expect for this kind of musical affair - and the palette is rendered accurately throughout, with good depth given to the entire array, up to and including the solid blacks, which make for decent enough shadowing and darker sequences. The picture has great 3D qualities in High Definition and with no digital defects or edge enhancement, it marks a release that - unexpectedly - has good potential to use to show of your next generation home cinema equipment with.
SoundDisappointingly, neither Hi-Def format gets the deluxe treatment in terms of aural depiction: the Blu-ray release getting a basic Dolby Digital 5.1 track and the HD DVD getting an only marginally better Dolby Digital 5.1 Plus effort. I simply don't know why there's no Uncompressed PCM, or True HD to be seen for this release, particularly since it is so musically intensive. Still, both tracks are almost equally above-average (if far from spectacular), with dialogue presented clearly and coherently across the frontal array and some fairly routine atmospheric sound effect coverage (there's nothing wild in terms of effects here, so the surrounds don't get to show great dynamics). The score and songs are the highlight and, as I've stated, it would have been nice had they had the upgraded treatment - it might have given them a bit more punch - still, as is, they are nevertheless presented well and come across as the best part of the movie, as it should be. Bass also comes into play during the musical numbers, although once again it is never quite enough to satisfy with these basic tracks.
ExtrasBoth High Definition releases of Dreamgirls match the Standard DVD release in terms of Extras, with no sign of any HD-exclusive stuff here, other than the fact that the Extras are presented in 1080p. Still, with material spread across two discs, there is a fair amount to rave about. On the movie disc there is a wealth of Deleted Scenes - twenty in total - mostly comprising full versions of the songs scattered throughout the movie. I'm glad the final cut did not have the full length songs in it as it would have clearly made the movie even more torturous, but fans of the musical aspect of the movie (as most fans of the movie would probably have to be) will be quite keen on checking out all this extra music. Following on in the musical theme of these extras, there is also a Music Video from Beyonce included on the movie disc. You'll note that there's no sign of a Commentary, which is somewhat inexcusable when you consider the fact that they weren't exactly saving the disc space to invest in a more powerful sound mix. Still the second disc does its best to make up for the lack of Commentary.
First up we get a massive Documentary - Building the Dream - that, with its near-two hour runtime rivals the movie itself in terms of length. Now I find the prospective of this a tiny bit overwhelming, if not ridiculous, but some larger documentaries have been worth their weight in gold (Jaws, The Wild Bunch), and Dreamgirls is no exception for fans, providing a comprehensive behind the scenes look at the making of this musical epic. Split into eight segments: On Broadway, The Dream is Alive, I'm Looking for Something, Feel so Real, You Better Move Move, The Sound of Tomorrow, Gonna Take a Mean Ride and One Night Only, this Documentary is packed with interviews and footage of the movie being shot and is likely to have fans enthralled from start to finish with its exploration of the making of Dreamgirls.
Dream Logic: Film Editing spends four minutes with the Editor looking at how she pieced it all together with Dressing the Dreams: Costume Design and Centre Stage: Theatrical Lighting speaking for themselves. We get several interesting Auditions and Screen Tests (which were briefly covered in the mammoth making-of) for Beyonce, Akika Noni Rose and Fatima Robison (for choreography). Finally there are some Previsualisation Sequences for seven of the more effects-laden (often musical) scenes: The Talent Show, Fake Your Way to the Top, Cadillac Car, Steppin' to the Bad Side, I Want You Baby, Heavy and Hard to Say Goodbye as well as a stills gallery will a stupid amount of photos in it.
VerdictWell, what can I say? Dreamgirls was arguably one of the worst movies that I have seen so far this year, a thoroughly flawed musical that - in my opinion - does not even have decent enough music to engage fans on that level. Apart from seeing a new depth of talent from Eddie Murphy, there is nothing particularly noteworthy about this movie and it failed to capture my interest at all. The results on the High Definition formats are equally good and bad, with perfect picture but disappointing audio (if only for the fact that neither the HD DVD nor the Blu-ray comes with the superior High Def tracks) and a plethora of extras that fail to utilise the advanced facilities on these next-generation. If you already have the SD DVD, upgrading is going to depend on the size of your TV, but fans who don't have this yet should consider the HD DVD and Blu-ray versions equally superior to the SD release. Newcomers who like musicals should give this a rental but those who don't are unlikely to find anything at all worth watching here.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.77
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