Dreamgirls (2006) - 2-Disc Showstopper Edition
|Genre(s): Drama / Musical|
|Paramount, DreamWorks || PG13 - 130 minutes - $34.99 || May 1, 2007|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-04-26|
Writer(s): Tom Eyen (Broadway Production Book), Bill Condon (written for the screen)
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson
Theatrical Release Date: December 25, 2006
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Musicals are a funny thing. They can either be great (Chicago) or fall short (Rent). Dreamgirls came in the middle for me. On the one hand, there is not one musical number or song that wasn’t catchy and each performance is also fine. Then again, the film piled on with 20 musical numbers seemingly back-to-back, wore me down after two hours.
Dreamgirls received wonderful reviews across the board and took home statues from the Golden Globes (Picture and Supporting Actor), National Board of Review (Breakthrough Performance), Screen Actors Guild (Supporting Actor and Actress) and Academy Awards for Sound Mixing and Supporting Actress, Jennifer Hudson. And that’s not to mention the countless other wins and nominations it also received. Looking at it all from a distance, Dreamgirls certainly deserves the accolades. Even though I can’t say it’s a masterpiece or the best of 2007 (that honor goes to The Departed), it still is a well done musical.
Although nobody stands out in this ensemble, that might be a good thing. Everyone from Jennifer Hudson to Beyoncé Knowles to Eddie Murphy turn in amazing performances that are heart wrenching, powerful and intense. I don’t subscribe to the “Hudson is so great” fan club, but given her experience (or lack thereof), is truly remarkable, and perhaps for that she deserves all she’s got.
Director Bill Condon continues his success after his Oscar winner Chicago and he does something where Rent failed. Condon makes sure each musical number doesn't stop the picture and instead moves the story along without the audience noticing. To a certain extent, he succeeds. I might have grown a bit weary and tired of the music, it still didn't break the flow either.
I have now seen Dreamgirls twice -- in theaters and now on DVD -- and although I did become slightly bored both times, I do feel if one has a nice home theater setup, it’s more enjoyable at home. Also nice is if you enjoyed the musical numbers like me, you can go straight to your favorite; my personal choices are Beyoncé’s “Listen” and “Steppin’ to the Bad Side”.
Overall, Dreamgirls isn’t the classic musical but it is something to behold. There’s not one weak performance in the bunch (despite some drawn out numbers by Hudson) and the film as a whole is enjoyable.
This two-disc “Showstopper Edition” includes some lengthy features with the first disc also available separately at a cheaper price.
Extended and Alternate Scenes (36:10) - There are 12 scenes provided and for the fans of the movie or of music in general, you should enjoy it. The first few are just the entire musical numbers during the talent show minus back stage cuts.
The only other item on disc 1 is a music video from Beyoncé (note: presented in non-anamorphic widescreen).
Building the Dream (1:54:48) - This 9-part feature length documentary is the crown jewel of this set. Beginning with “On Broadway”, we get a brief background on the “Dreamgirls” Broadway musical followed by segments covering casting, pre-production and choreography (amongst others). But the biggest portion belongs to a 2-part production segment going from Day 1 to 61 featuring interviews with just about everyone involved. All I can say is this is what all ‘making-of’ featurettes should be like.
Dream Logic: Film Editing (4:05) - A little disappointing featurette that could’ve been expanded more with several examples of editing the numerous musical numbers. Given the amount of footage, it seemed like a tough task putting it all together, so more would have been better in this case.
Dressing the Dreams: Costume Design (8:15) - Extensive featurette covers every costume from the main cast with the costume designer providing the commentary about her process and thoughts when creating her designs. A bit long and ho-hum for my taste but maybe aspiring designers will find it useful.
Center Stage: Theatrical Lighting (8:43) - Leaving no stone unturned, we also get a featurette on how various scenes were lit and the process of keeping them in the style of the 60s and 70s.
Rounding out the second disc are Auditions and Screen Tests including Beyoncé, Previsualization Sequences on six songs (just storyboards mixed with rehearsal footage) and finally an Image Gallery of costume and production designs and art department archives.
Save for the absence of a commentary track, this “Showstopper Edition” is a great buy for any fan of the movie or of musicals in general. Kudos to DreamWorks and Paramount for putting together a good two-disc set. Also, all features are presented in anamorphic widescreen.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The widescreen transfer looks damn perfect from what I could tell. The tones look spot on and the colors, sometimes muted (on purpose), looks fantastic. All around a fine transfer by Paramount/DreamWorks.
Although I would’ve preferred a DTS track given it is music-driven, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 provided is more than suitable. The center speaker does most of the work but side speakers also give out some nice audio.
This two-disc Showstopper Edition is the edition to get and one, if you like special features, that is actually worth the extra $8 over the single disc version. I miss a filmmakers’ or cast commentary but what’s provided on disc 2 more than makes up for it giving an inside look at how Dreamgirls was made.
I might not be a huge fan of the movie, but it's still a fine achievement in filmmaking and worth seeing now that it's on DVD.