Friday, December 30, 2011

Glee: The Concert Movie Blu ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Television Comedy, audiences everywhere can see TV’s hottest musical sensation as a full length feature film when Glee: The Concert Movie is now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.  Enjoy the breath-taking concert experience like never before with new exciting never-before-seen and extended performances, clips of fans’ favorite characters, exclusive extras and more, all from the comfort of your living room.  Featuring everyone’s favorite "Glee" stars including Lea Michele, Jane Lynch, Cory Monteith, Chris Colfer, Dianna Agron, Darren Criss, Mark Salling, Naya Rivera, Heather Morris and the rest of the Glee cast.  Glee: The Concert Movie  features fan favorite hits recorded live from the sold-out nationwide concert.

Film (3 out of 5 stars)
As the film begins, the viewer is immediately introduced to some "Glee" fans.  While I do admit to being a fan of the show, these people must be the "Gleeks" I've heard about and I'm definitely not one of them.  I don't really remember the characters names, I don't have an animal named after a Glee character, and I certainly have never made a Glee T-Shirt that I would wear to a concert.  In all honesty, I probably wouldn't pay money to see a live Glee while I'm a fan of the show, I'm definitely not a hardcore Gleek.

The cast of "Glee" performs in character as New Directions.  They begin with their signature opener "Don't Stop Believin'," followed by "SING" and "Empire State of Mind."  Britney performs a solo with "I'm a Slave for You", and Finn sings "Jessie's Girl."  The Warblers perform "Teenage Dream" and "Raise Your Glass".  As with the show, Rachel has more than her fair share of solos including "Firework" and "Don't Rain on My Parade."

Edited in between songs are stories of "Glee" fans that have been touched by the show and the characters and/or actors in various ways.  A girl with asperger's syndrome finds happiness from Britney and a dwarf cheerleader dreams of becoming prom queen.  Gay teens tell what Kurt's presence on the show has meant to them and a very young boy looks like he's well on his way to being a future Warbler. 

Other memorable songs performed on the Blu-ray are Artie's "Safety Dance" and the group numbers "Loser Like Me" and "Somebody to Love."  Gwyneth Paltrow pays a surprise visit but I haven't gotten that far into the show yet.  I've been watching "Glee" on Netflix, and I'm only on season two so I haven't seen the episode she was on or what her Cee Lo Green hit "Forget You" has to do with anything.  I like the show so far, but it hasn't grabbed my attention so much that I had to rush right out and watch all the other seasons immediately.  

I like the show's music more than the teenage soap opera nature of the series, so I figured the "Glee" concert would be right up my alley since it would be focused more on the songs than the story-lines.  Instead, because the music is intercut with the fan confessionals, it's pretty much what I was hoping it wouldn't be.  I was looking for a true concert experience which I would have gotten if I had been at the live concert, but this Blu-ray is a hybrid were the stories really undermine the otherwise fine concert performances.  If this disc had just been the concert with additional songs with the stories relegated elsewhere, I would have rated this a lot higher.

Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Glee the Concert Movie's 1080p transfer is presented in a widescreen 1.78:1 ratio.  The concert was designed for 3D, but I can't comment on that since the version that I'm reviewing is the 2D version.  I have a feeling that the 3D version is probably the one to see.  The black levels are fine onstage, but whenever the camera turns to the crowd in the darkness, it looks as though you're watching an old VHS tape, not Blu ray.  Looking at the performers on stage, the colors are vibrant and vivid, and the skin tones are natural looking and consistent throughout the concert.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Glee the concert is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  The audio levels are consistent throughout.  Volume did not need to be adjusted when transitioning from talking to singing and the disc captures the arena experience well.  The rear speakers provide some nice ambiance where it seems like you are a part of the crowd.  The music sounds great as well but it could have been better, especially if the instruments had been better defined.
Special Features (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Sue Sylvester’s track suit that's also an evening gown was the funniest and best part of the special features.  Frankly, I expected more than just unseen and extended performances since I was hoping for more options like rehearsal footage.  With all of the choreography in this show, there's no reason footage of the cast learning it couldn't have been included.  

The Blu-ray contains the following special features:
  • Unseen Performances - Two additional performances for "Dog Days are Over" and "Friday".
  • Extended Performances - Two extended performances for "Happy Days are Here Again/Get Happy", and "Aint No Way"
  • On Stage with the Cast - Sue Sylvester has several introductions and opportunities to comment on New Directions.  Kurt's new directions proposal is also found in this special feature.

Final Thoughts (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
I was most surprised that the "Glee" concert had the Glee cast in character.  I thought it would just be the stars singing.  I didn't expect it to be an extension of the show - or that it would be a performance of New Directions.  I would have liked a straight concert film with less production related to the fans.  I think this would have been a lot better if the fans' stories had been relegated to the special features instead of constantly interrupting the concert.  I wanted more music and less stories because many of my favorite songs I've seen performed on "Glee" were missing because the stories took up so much of the screen time.  Overall, the "Glee" concert was entertaining and I would have been interested in seeing it in 3D since it may have been nice to see it how it was envisioned.
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