A "musical" is a hard sell at the box-office. Let's face it, other than "SINGIN' IN THE RAIN" how many great movie musicals have there been, and remember "SINGIN' IN THE RAIN" was no hit when first released! Sure, there were the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals, but for every one of them, there were five "PAINT YOUR WAGON"s! Even though it's easy to get a movie-goer to be willing to suspend disbelief enough to believe a boy can fly on his bicycle, it's much harder to get one to accept characters simply breaking into song and dance. Director Rob Marshall has received much acclaim for managing to bridge this gap of disbelief, and it's deserved here! He's found a way to present his characters' sudden entries into dance and song, in a believable structure.
Renee Zellweger(always delightful, but a bit overpraised here)stars as Roxie Hart, a bored, frustrated housewife, dreaming and desiring to become a stage star. Catherine Zeta-Jones stars as Velma Kelly, a popular performer intent on achieving even more popularity. Both characters want celebrity, and with the adage, "There's no such thing as bad publicity" both don't mind being known as killers, to get it! As the story, energetically, creatively unfolds, we find Roxie has been duped by a traveling salesman, promising her a chance at fame in return for sex. In a moment of pure dismay and betrayal, she shoots and kills the salesman. Her decent but clueless husband all but seals her fate when confronted with her infidelity. Velma has killed her husband and sister after finding them in bed together. Both women end up in jail, awaiting trial, wherein Velma still expects to be treated like a star, and through the flamboyance of the lawyer they both share, Roxie ends up becoming one.
Of course, this newfound celebrity status of Roxie isn't accepted by Velma, and she and the prison matron(Queen Latifah) work to stop it.
Marshall's ingenious way to present song and dance within the story without feeling abrupt and out of place, is to effectively demonstrate these musical numbers are in Roxie's celebrity-struck imagination. It works!
BUENA VISTA has preserved the film's 1.85:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 enhancement. While there are some minor artifacts, the overall image is excellent. Colors are vibrant, and even with complex color schemes, and bright reds, there's never a hint of oversaturation. There's excellent detail in every scene. Contrast is also impressive, with deep blacks and grays, allowing for terrific detail in the darkest scenes. Fleshtones appear natural.
BUENA VISTA has presented both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mix. Both mixes are fine, and at times, wonderful. "CHICAGO" is a musical first, and its musical numbers are flawlessly represented here, with terrific fidelity, and directional/surround effects enhancing the elaborate numbers. However, when the songs are over, surrounds/directional effects are restrained. Separation is generally confined to the front soundstage. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.
While the Dolby Digital mix is impressive, it lacks the full bass and clarity found in the "DTS" version.
BUENA VISTA offers some extras here.
There's a running commentary with Director Rob Marshall and writer Bill Condon.
It manages to explore the technical and thematic elements of the film, without
ever sounding dry. These two have an engaging discourse here, and it's well
A featurette is also included, offering plenty of interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and a deleted musical number.
For some reason, while there are trailers for other films, there's none for "CHICAGO".