PictureShall we Dance is presented as a 1080P/VC-1 transfer in a 1.85:1 ratio. Surprisingly the image has lots of detail and is awash with luscious colours right from the off. This is not what I was expecting from this type of movie but it was a welcome surprise nonetheless. There is a lovely warm hue to the image though there is definitely a tendency towards the reds. It's off on the colour scale but it still makes for a very pleasant viewing experience. The clarity of the image remains outstanding and the solidity of all the colours really do come through to make the whole image shine. Blacks remain fairly deep and the contrast is generally good. There is no crushing of blacks and the shadow detail also presents itself well. All in all, the picture remains pin sharp and is quite well presented from start to finish.
SoundThe pick of the audio is the uncompressed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is also the choice of a standard 5.1 English, French and Spanish should you wish to go that route. The sound mix is competently mastered but it's nothing adventurous. There is a good balance between the music and the dialogue. When the music is playing the dialogue still comes through very clearly and never has to try to overpower the ambient sounds. Speech is very crisp as a result. The LFE is tight but as you would expect from such a movie is quite rarely used. The sound steering is all directed through the front stage with the occasional use of the rears, mostly limited to the outbursts of music. What remains most impressive about the soundtrack is that the volume levels of the ambient music are very cleverly used. It's not all at one monotonous volume level and there are many layers in the audio. It felt like a blanket of luscious warm sound surrounding you at times.
ExtrasThere are six extras to choose from the special features menu.
Audio Commentary - (102mins) This is a full length audio commentary from director Peter Chelsom and it's exemplary of what a good supplement should be. He's on his own on this one but his input comes across as very intelligent, purposeful and with plenty of reasoning in his filmmaking. A lot is relative to the Japanese original and he really talks in depth to give a thoroughly excellent and interesting insight. If audio commentary is not your bag then do give this one a listen if only to appreciate how it should be done.
Deleted Scenes - (17mins 28secs) There are five deleted scenes and they come with directors commentary. You have an Alternate Opening sequence, Dr Dance, The Competition, Link, Bobbie Rumba and Paulina coaches John, Paulina dances with children
Behind the scenes of Shall we Dance - (24mins 06secs) This is a well edited behind the scenes look at the movie. The ensemble of cast and crew make comment about the film itself and relate it to the original Japanese original version of the film. As I say it's a pleasant surprise to find that this is well put together rather than the usual clips simply thrown into the mixer.
Beginners Ballroom - (3mins 52secs) Learn about the beauty of the dance
The Music of Shall we Dance - (4mins 49secs) Explore how classic moves and music were modernised for the film. It's all rather tastefully done.
Pussycat Dolls “Sway” music video - (3mins 14secs) The Pussycat Dolls take on the classic song. They haven't completely ruined the song and even if you don't like their version they're nice enough eye candy..... Phew! these girls are most certainly hot !
VerdictShall we Dance is an American remake of a fairly recent Japanese film of the same name. Director Richard Chelsom plays it very safe and literally lifts the original 1996 film by Masayuki Suo and simply puts it into an American context. In many ways the American version ends up being far too safe and does not as a result carry the charm of the original movie.
The original attached a certain amount of stigma to ballroom dancing, which within the cultural backdrop was understandable. It's the reason why the film worked. However, the same stigma doesn't quite apply in an American context. After all it's a well-known form of dancing over there. The end result is a movie that feels like it's been put together in a very formularised way.
It's not all bad, the performances from the lead actors are quite competent and as the movie progress you will warm to it increasingly so. The dance routines remain fairly basic and the film also never tries to place anyone above their station. In some ways it allows the viewer to engage realistically with the dancing. Richard Gere's acting is smooth and believable whilst Jennifer Lopez concentrates on what she does best, dancing. Diehard fans though maybe justified in being slightly disappointed that their stars are not completely on top of their game.
The blu-ray disc package is good. The movie has a clean, sharp and colourful transfer and the audio complements it to a point. The extras on the disc are also a welcome bonus with the director's audio commentary being the pick of them. The movie definitely makes for a good rental and you don't necessarily have to be a fan of ballroom dancing should you wish to add this one to your collection.
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