99 of 104 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2003
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
As a musical theater purist, I was concerned that a movie musical with 3 of Hollywoods A list stars would be a hinderance rather than a help in the "revival" of the genre. I must say that I was blown away by the sheer genius and excellence of the film.
Catherine Zeta-Jones' Velma was equal to, if not better than Bebe Neuwerth's ( Brodway revival). Her beautiful voice and masterful dance skill is worthy of the great white way. A Tony may have been a more appropriate award as opposed to her much deserved Oscar. Although Rene Zellwegers voice was a little shaky in the begining she brought out a tough side in Roxy that was not there in neither the original nor the revival stage versions. Then my biggest fear, Richard Gere as Billy Flinn, was in a word perfect. You can't ask for a better fit, and what a shocker to see that wonderful tapdance!
With great costumes,Fosse-like choreography, expert lighting and singing (by many broadway veterans in the chours as extras) this dark comedy shines. Also with great cameos and supporting performances by the great Chita Rivera ( original broadway cast),John C. Reily (oscar nominated),Lucy Liu, and Christine Baranski this film shines as one of the greatest ever made, not just as a musical, but as a film. Rob Marshall's directorial debut deserves all of it's accolades...and all that jazz.
59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
First, an important note: Amazon has a policy of combining ALL reviews of ALL formats of a movie title and posts on all those formats. So, it is important to sort reviews by "Current first" and then look to see which format the review is commenting on (it's there). As of today there are over 1300 reviews posted under this title but none - to my knowledge - are of the new 2014 Blu ray version Diamond Edition of this wonderful musical. So this may be the first. Also be aware that - to my knowledge - the Amazon Instant version may include the newly restored print (which is on the new BD set - but does not contain any of the "Bonus material" which - as you will see here - is SUBSTANTIAL. With that said, on to the review.
It honestly is not good use of your time for me to discuss the film itself here. For that, you might want to choose "Most Helpful" and read those reviews. So I won't discuss the plot, musical number, etc here if they were on the earlier releases. Also, you should know that there are two discs in the new package. One is a standard DVD and is virtually the same as the previous DVD release with a full length Director's Commentary and a featurette on going from the Broadway stage version to the film version. Plus there is one song that was deleted from the film. Heck that is a lot of bonus material....... But wait.
The other disc is a Blu ray which contains the gorgeous new "HD" print with even better sound. (Since, when I watched the original DVD of this film, it was on a standard-def TV I wasn't seeing much anyway. Now with my larger 42-inch HD screen it looks great. But that's not all. The package cover states that there are "Over two ours of NEW bonus material". I wasn't sure if this was a ploy - after all the film runs just under two hours - but they were right. The BD disc contains a new multi-part documentary that covers nearly all aspects of the film (casting, screenwriting, costuming, and auditions) and runs 2 hours and 20 minutes! The longest section is the 33-minute one on casting each major actor. All of them were recently interviewed as well as the creative team. Yes, there are obviously clips from the film to illustrate the comments but the interviews take up most of the time. I will warn you that this is a "love fest" and you will hear nary a negative comment. You will hear a lot of "he/she was PERFECT", "He/she is astounding" and "he/she is a remarkable singer/dancer/actor". It's almost too positive and the superlatives fly a bit too often. But you will certainly know more than you ever expected to about this film and Broadway musical fans will love every minute of it. But that's NOT all the "bonus material". Really! The BD has a slew of "extended musical numbers" and a few "rehearsals" too. If I counted correctly, there are nine of these, each running about 3- minutes except for the jail cell number which goes on for eight minutes. Because Director Rob Marshall often cut action into the musical numbers, we can now see them without interruption. (Side note - if only Francis Ford Coppola would release the music and dance numbers he filmed for "The Cotton Club", this reviewer would be a happy camper. It's never been released and the editing in the film destroys the performance by music legends.)
So there you have it. Would I recommend that those who have the prior DVD "upgrade" to this new set? If you are a music theater or Hollywood musicals but, ABSOLUTELY - both for the print and the ne bonuses. If you have only seen the film in the theater or on Amazon Instant, and liked it, then yes too! You'll have a better understanding. Then if you had a previous configuration, pass that one on to someone who hasn't seen the film and you just might introduce them to what a film version of a Broadway musical should be!
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.
81 of 90 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2002
It is the 1920s in Chicago and we enter this musical film through a saucy nightclub to see Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) performing a duo act of All that Jazz on her own. Only later is it revealed what happened to her sister who was supposed to be the second half of the act. Next we meet Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) who is a naive girl with big dreams of stardom who goes to the slammer for killing her lover. From the moment she enters and we see a brief flash of her imagining herself on stage, we are aware that this film is half reality and half Roxie's dream. Ambitious Roxie has to find a way to get herself out of prison and onto the stage. To do this she creates an innocent persona that is designed by her smooth talking lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) for the media to bring the public to her support. With his help and the sassy matron of the women's prison 'Mama' Morton (Queen Larifah) Roxie eclipses Velma Kelly's prison girl fame. Her matronly values and repentant attitude have the public enthralled and the jury in tears. But with her newfound celebrity Roxie's head is sent spinning again with plans of musical fame. However, it becomes increasingly obvious that her popularity will be dreadfully short lived if she doesn`t craft a way to remain in the spotlight. Teetering on the brink of superstar celebrity and death row, Roxie will have to give the performance of her life if she wants to save her neck. Filled with beautifully choreographed catchy musical numbers and a pleasing sweep of fast dramatic action, there is never a dull moment in this film. It's a triumphantly enjoyable thing to watch.
The greatest reason for this film's success is due to the stunning ensemble of actors many of whom (with the exception of Queen Larifah) we aren't familiar with hearing sing. The cast all excel in both in their musical numbers and acting performances. Catherine Zeta-Jones looks stunning and is fun in her catty diva role. Renée Zellweger is perfect for her part of the innocent, but still determined and quietly vicious, Roxie who will stop at nothing to become a star. Like in the striking film Nurse Betty, Zellweger's character again confuses reality with her dreams and her subtle facial shifts and movement meaningfully represent her psychological conflict. Most surprisingly, Richard Gere delivers a fantastic performance as the slimy lawyer proving that this actor can really do comedy well. Then there are notable performances in minor roles that leave an impact such as Queen Latifah`s sultry money-hungry matron, Christine Baranski as the hilarious news reporter Mary Sunshine, John C Reilly as Roxie's neglected but still loving husband Amos Hart and Lucy Liu as the vicious ball-busting heiress Kitty.
Those familiar with the famous stage show of Chicago will not be disappointed because this film maintains its focus on the musical and dance numbers as the centerpiece. In fact, the meaning of Roxie's psychological confusion between reality and fantasy is wonderfully accentuated by the film's ability to quickly cut between the drab, harsh reality and the glamorous, jazzy corners of Roxie's imagination. The director Rob Marshall excellently filmed all the dance numbers to focus on particular moves as well as capture the full action of the performances for the fullest effect. This movie is a fine example of how a musical film can succeed where its pertinent counterpart (as both films focus on a female on death row) Dancer in the Dark failed. The musical numbers all take a vital role in both accentuating plot detail and enjoyably moving the film along. Likewise, the story does not take itself too seriously preferring to revel in the fantastic music and thrilling story rather than focus on any specific moral meaning. That isn't to say that this film isn't emotionally engaging. It excels in its ability to entertain you as well as draw you into an exciting story of fame, glamour and death.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2003
I originally had no interest in seeing this movie, but I took a chance and I was blown away! This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. It's funny, fast-paced, the singing and dancing are great, and the artistic quality was wonderful. I ran out and bought the CD immediately and will pre-buy the DVD. Don't miss this film, you will regret it!
38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2003
The first musical to win the Best Picture Oscar after 34 years, this 2002 Rob Marshall's adaptation of a 1975 Broadway musical lacks the warmth and romance of the 2001 Baz Luhrmann's hit "Moulin Rouge", but certainly rivals its daring predecessor in glamour. It's sumptuous to look at and thoroughly glorious as far as film-making is concerned. However, an emphatic viewer has a hard time to identify with any of its characters. Yep, probably no woman would like to find herself in a situation Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones found themselves in here -- murderesses. Maybe later on, when Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Zellweger) are helped by a slick lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) and insatiable press to become celebrities of their own. Much like a fairy-tale for grownups, this film does not worry about morals or profound lessons on humanity. Rather, it offers a real show, based on the roaring 1920's with all its sex and prohibition. "Chicago"'s final effect on viewer is enhanced by great acting, singing and dancing performances from the leading three actors (Zeta-Jones won Oscar for her supporting role), sophisticated choreography and perfect editing, often making for an all-out exhilarating impact.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I heard of the musical Chicago from years ago, but really never paid attention to it. I had no desire to see this movie either. Reading some of the reviews, I went to see it out of curiosity.
I went to a stadium seating theatre with a big screen and great sound. From the first frame to the last, I loved every minute of it. The music was great as well as the story and perfomances.
Most the reviews here seem to be one star or 5 stars. I just can't imagine anyone hating this movie. I went back 3 more times to see it, and liked it more each time.
I can understand some of the criticism of the director, but there was enough traditional scenes that the chop chop chop style wasn't much of a bother to me. In fact some of it added to certain scenes.
I truly don't understand how this movie was cast with of bunch of actors with little musical background..Shows you how much I know. They were all great.
Queen Latifah was just plain great. Her character in the movie was a little off. First she is a tough talking prison matron, then she's real nice and understanding...oh well, her performance especially musically was top notch.
If you're tired of war movies, and sappy comedies, go see this and just lose yourself in two hours of sexy fun with great music.
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2003
Those who have condemned Chicago for its characters and subject matter are missing the point. When he wrote this musical Fosse was satirizing a society in which the appetite for sensationalism has led to the glamorization of criminals and the corruption of our government and justice system. The twenties were notorious for this. However, Fosse couched it in such an appealing manner so that it was only upon reflection that people realized who and what they had been rooting for, thus proving his point. If something is entertaining and sensational enough people will pay to see it regardless of its moral values.
Chicago is a fabulous production and does justice to Fosse's original vision. While some people have condemned the singing in the film it is consistent with recordings from that period and, for me at any rate, instantly evoked the time period. I think Chicago is a great production and worth seeing at least once.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2003
This is unarguably the BEST motion picture of the year (hence the Oscar win) and in my opinion the best movie in ten years. Catherine Zeta-Jones is simply amazing and deserves every amount of praise she has received for her role as the sexy Velma Kelly. Renée Zellweger surprised audiences, bringing a new style to the role of Roxie Hart, but she isn't a natural musical theatre star like Zeta-Jones. Richard Gere shone as Billy Flynn, but his tap dancing left something to be desired. The musical numbers in this movie were nothing short of outstanding and left the audiences blown away. Rob Marshall brought his genius to this motion picture with the stage-like staging. While in the movie theatre it almost felt like watching a live performance on a stage. This is exemplified especially in numbers like "Cell Block Tango" and Catherine Zeta-Jones' best moment "I Can't Do It Alone".
Some reviewers have compared Chicago to last year's attempt-at-a musical Moulin Rouge. Chicago is what we call a real musical (with original songs and a solid 7 year run on Broadway with multiple Tony awards). Moulin Rouge was a movie that tried too hard. Moulin Rouge had potential but had too much fancy camera work that gave half its audience a headache. The dance sequences were awful. The camera moved so fast and was on such inappropriate angles for dancing that too much was lost; unlike Chicago where the cinematography showed off the dancing. Nicole Kidman is one of the greatest actresses of all time and was great in Moulin Rouge, but when it comes to musicals Catherine Zeta-Jones SHINES!
Chicago is wonderful and it earned every Oscar it won. Moulin Rouge didn't win at the Oscars because it just wasn't good enough. Chicago saved the face of the musical movie by showing the world how a musical movie should be.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2003
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
The negative reviews below are mind-boggling. I've now seen "Chicago" 4 times and each time I watch it I am still blown away. I can't wait to watch it again. Being a fan of the Broadway show, I was very skeptical when I first learned of the casting. However, the two female leads do a phenomenal job, especially Catherine Zeta-Jones. The singing, dancing, choreography and acting are all fantastic. If you're not a fan of big production numbers, then "Chicago" isn't for you. But if you enjoy musicals, especially stage based, then "Chicago" is sure to please.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2003
I have to say this is one of the best films I have ever seen. The director does a great job of showing the story of Roxie and Vel. I can't say much more about it. It is comparable to Moulin Rouge, but with a stupendously better soundtrack. All songs contained within Chicago are originals for the stage version, although a few songs were lowered a key or two so that Catherine and Reneé could really belt them.
As for some of the reviewers, specifically the one who said this is a a horrible new musical. I am sorry to say you have been misinformed. Firstly, this is certainly not a new musical. It has been around for decades. Also, it does not celebrate the murders. In case you don't know, there is something called a farce, and Chicago is exactly that. They use these overblown stories (i.e. The Cell Block Tango) to show what life was like in the roaring twenties. Much like F. Scott Fitzgerald did when he wrote The Great Gatsby.
To wrap it up, I cannot recommend this movie enough. It is beyond great, I also recommend you buy the soundtrack - not only to the movie, but also to the original stage version and the '96 revival. Buy them all and enjoy.