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596 of 615 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 1, 2005
Right from the beginning, this is the same "Rent", but different. And yes, better.

Somehow, Chris Columbus has taken a beloved, Tony- and Pulitzer-winning musical, a deeply personal and heartfelt rock musical twist on "La Boheme", and improved it.

I know what you're thinking. It's not possible. I didn't think so either.

But just go with me for a second here. It's obvious he loves this piece. He treats it with such affinity and respect, yet adds (or subtracts) things until we have this only-slightly stream-lined powerhouse of a musical. The fat has been trimmed, and what's left is lean, powerful, emotional, a card-carrying Rent-head, I was blown away.

It opens with "Seasons Of Love", revealing this exquisite new recording to be full of detail and clarity. It's like a layer of grime has been scraped from the version you are all familiar with. The vocals are clear, the instrumentation vivid and precise. That plaintive piano motif sounds so perfect; it's like the sound of a heart breaking just a little.

For those of us who have memorized the Broadway soundtrack, that song being first isn't as jarring as you'd expect; when the next song "Rent" comes crashing in, all sense of order is restored. The guitars are harder, the drums thundering in spectacular fashion. Some of the spoken bits are excised from the inner parts of the song, which is perfect. In fact, most of the expository fluff has been trimmed, and all for the better.

And remember, I love the original. Passionately.

We shift unexpectedly to "You'll See", with all the interleaving vocals perfectly clear and evocative. Taye Diggs performs here with assurance and flair. He takes a little piece that moves the story along and infuses it with some soul.

That's one word that I kept thinking of while listening to this for the first time: soul. The vocals here are filled with such heart and depth, it's as if a new soul has inhabited Jonathan Larson's already soulful lyrics. The experience of the cast members, both in knowing these characters inside and out, and in the development of their own talents, adds a new dimension to this work. The highs are higher, the lows profound. They are acting and singing on a level an order of magnitude higher than their previous iteration.

"One Song Glory" is a showcase for a solo Adam Pascal. The tempos are a little different that the original; the fast sections drive more...the slower ones lope along amiably.

"Light My Candle"...hooboy...Rosario Dawson leaps out of your speakers here, in a duet with Pascal that will make your speakers generate heat. If you have headphones on, you'll feel your ears warm. Comparing her to Daphne Rubin-Vega is pointless but unavoidable. Dawson's voice is warmer, more seductive. Vega's is edgier and more coquettish. Apples and oranges. I eat both. When Rosario brags about her posterior here, I became pleasantly uncomfortable.

Up to now, I haven't missed any of the "tune-ups" and "voice mails" from the original, and "You Okay Honey?" I'm sure will manifest itself some way in the film. It's where Angel and Tom Collins meet.

On this record, we find Angel first on "Today 4 U" It's a much more energetic and musical version than before. Also, for those of us who know every line, there's a tantalizing switch from "Christmas Eve" to "Christmas Day" in one key line at the beginning of this song which piques my curiosity to the alterations to come in the film.

"Tango: Maureen" shows that newcomer Tracie Thoms can not only fill some shoes, she can create her own, thank you very much. She's perfect. And Anthony Rapp inhabits Mark as no one else can. It's him. This song, with the additional horn orchestrations, is another incident where it's appearing this "Rent" is trying to improve across the board on every aspect of the "old" one, while not changing anything important.

"Life Support", a minute-long snippet, is again, more full-bodied than the original, but shorter.

"Out Tonight" is the song where every Rent fan will be waiting to see if Rosario Dawson can compare to Daphne. Here, she can't. Vega owned this song. Seeing her do it live was like watching somebody set off fireworks indoors. That came across on the cast album. But Dawson does perfectly fine here...I can't wait to see her do this in the movie. I love the backing band here...they sound great. Throughout this soundtrack, the musical accompaniment to the vocals is faultless. Unimprovable.

Being blunt: they're freaking awesome.

"Another Day", Roger and Mimi's spat song, is fairly unchanged. Pascal and Dawson sound great, particularly Dawson...she gives a "real"-sounding, unaffected performance. And the ensemble ending is still spine-tingling...that last "No day but today" still gets me.

"Will I" benefits from improved production. By now we've lost things like "On The Street" from the original, and nothing feels missing.

The highlight song pair, "Santa Fe" and "I'll Cover You" show how Jesse L. Martin simply NAILS Tom Collins. His character shines through, yet his voice has aged so wonderfully that THIS will be the definitive Tom Collins. He lets his sweet, soulful voice fly unfettered here, and it's astonishing. Wilson Heredia, for all intents and purposes, will be the only "Angel" anyone needs ever to know. He imbues warmth and intelligence to a character that could have easily been either too saintly or too cliched.

The songs referred to as "We're Okay" and "Christmas Day" are gone (again, I can't wait to see how they spin this in the film) and we head straight into "Over The Moon", Idina Menzel's loopy performance piece. It's a bit odd out of context, but she's game and belts it out without a hint of inhibition. Make sure you listen past the end of the'll hear this one man yell out "Moo!" and the band comes rocking in as if Green Day suddenly showed up.

Disc two opens with the death of the Akita, Evita, and "La Vie Boheme". Some of the vocal asides are missing, but you'll only notice if you're a Rent addict like I am. I noticed, and I didn't care a whit. Once that sinuous piano bass line came in, I was lost.

Then, my first surprise. At the end of "La Vie Boheme", when Roger asks Mimi, "You?" and she responds, "Me. You?"...I suddenly and spontaneous wept. I was so involved with this recording...and mind you...I knew this line was coming...that I felt the tears rise, with one spilling over on my cheek.

I was totally won over by this new recording, and willfully gave myself over to it at this point. "I Should Tell You" again shows how Pascal and Dawson really seem to work well together.

"La Vie Boheme" returns, like a shot of adrenaline, just like in the original. I still admire the line, "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation."

We get another snippet of "Seasons of Love" here, and then move to "Take Me or Leave Me", the show-stopping number between Idina Menzel and Tracie Thoms. To all the Menzel fanatics out there (and yes, I'm a big Wicked fan), she's actually better here. She's flat-out incredible, and Thoms matches her step-for-Diva-step. "Kiss Pooky"...BIG laugh here.

Clearly, there's a lot of exposition happening between some of these songs, because we now arrive at an aching "Without You". A bit more uptempo than before, and missing Vega's raspy vocals, but benefitting from Dawson's earthier tones.

My heart broke hearing Martin's "I'll Cover You" eulogy...I love the gospel tweak, as I do Martin's alterations. He is so good...the soaring ending will leave you spent. Leaving his voice unadorned at the end is an elegant stylish choice.

"Halloween" allows Rapp a chance to shine...he's the relatively stable center of the show, and this again is "better" than the Broadway version. Maybe because HE is.

"Goodbye Love" has all the cast members emoting angrily at the beginning, moving through various operative "movements" until ending with a sad, little exhalation.

"What You Own", the bookend to Mark and Roger's "Rent" duet, finds Rapp and Pascal meshing their voices better than they ever have... this time, we've skipped various "voice mails" and the "Contact" song, but it's somehow for the better...

"Finale A" is recorded "close-miked", as if Roger is speaking right into Mimi's ear, and this is what you'd hear. Again, a nice stylistic choice. "Your Eyes" still isn't the "all time greatest song that I've waited my whole life to write" that it's supposed to be. Here, though, it becomes Roger's intimate declaration of love for Mimi, and it works.

"Finale B" just soars. You can clearly hear each individual cast member chime in here and there, the band amping it up chorus after chorus, reaching a dizzying height with that final "No day but today" line.

I was sad it was over. Really.

But there's an additional song..."Love Heals", something Larson was working on, and now finished as an ensemble piece for the cast members. It's a bit of a mish-mash, lots of melodies, lots of tempos, lots of different kinds of stuff all put together.

It might not be the greatest song, but it acts as a valentine to Larson, and to diehard Rent fans, as we get to hear our beloved characters "come back" for one more song.

We still have two months to go before the film, but this record goes a long way in alleviating any concerns we Rent-heads may have had about the movie.

We don't have to worry if it's gonna be any good. Based on this, not only will he keep the Rent faithful happy, he will show the rest of the world what we've known all along.
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82 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2005
Calling it different is a bit of an exaggeration becuase this CD really tries to keep it as true to the original as possible, and they do a good job. Keep in mind a couple songs were removed or shortened becuase the musical is now in a movie format.

But I'd like to point out that it's stil 95% the same. As my title states, the music is much better than the original, all instrument performances are much richer and complex without changing the actual song structure.

If you like rent, you will like this CD as the musical improvements will make it worth your money, and it stays so close to the original that you won't be turned off either.

To point out some spcific changes, I would like to say that while Rosario Dawson's (MiMi) performance is different than the original, it's a bit more girly (not in a bad way). I'm at a stand still with 'Light My Candle' becuase there's more acting in some of the words and retort, which from a pure musical performance, is borderline over the top but hopefully will come off fine in the movie itself.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2005
In 1996, a small musical transfered from its home Off-Broadway to a new theater in the heart of Time's Square. That show was Rent, and 9 years, four Tonys, and one Pulitzer Prize later, Rent is finally being made into a film with almost the entire Original Broadway Cast reprising their roles.

Warner Bros. has already stared hyping the film, and part of the major media blitz is the release of the soundtrack nearly two months before the film. My iPod will never be the same.

Though the two disc film soundtrack is incredably similar to the Original Broadway Cast Recording (after all, six of the eight principal actors in the film starred in the Original Broadway Cast anyway), there are some changes, most of them for the better.

One is the more powerful sound of the music. It's nice to hear these songs played by a larger band than the six piece band that plays in the stage version. The sound on this recording is much more complete and full. Some of the aditional music and re-orchestrations are great as well. My favorites are the musical interlude in "Tango: Maureen," the musical tag at the end of "Over the Moon," and the new song "Love Heals," which will supposedly play over the credits.

Another thing that makes this recording so great is the maturity of the performers. After nine years, not only can they still nail their parts, but most of them sound even better. The nine extra years of training and work can be heard, especially in Idina Menzel, the recent Tony Award winner for Wicked and future mega-recording artist for Warner Bros. Records. She belts out "Take Me or Leave Me" with more power and punch on this recording than on the OBC recording, and her comic timing on the song/monologue "Over the Moon" is impecable. Adam Pascal seems more at ease with his character of Roger on this recording than on the original one. His renditions of "One Song Glory" and "Your Eyes" are more heart-wrenching on this recording.

And Rosario Dawson and Tracie Thoms, the two new additions to the cast, sound like they've been a part of this project for nine years as well. Dawson is near perfection as Mimi. She has a suprisingly soothing and pleasing voice, unlike Daphine Ruben-Vega, the original Mimi who sounded like she'd been chain smoking for 80 years. Sadly, Dawson can't belt it like Ruben-Vega, but still I would rather hear hear than the garden-rake-on-chalkboard Ruben-Vega. Tracie Thoms is also incredable as Joanne. Her voice is fantastic, and her solo in "Seasons of Love" will give you chills.

The only downside to this recording is the number of songs from the original show that are missing from the film. Granted, many of the songs would not work on film the way they work on stage, but someone who is not familiar with Rent would have a much easier time following the story if they listened to the stage recording instead of the film one. Still, if the film version of Rent is as good as its soundtrack, then we all have something to look forward to this Thanksgiving.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2005
I purchased The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and I love it (although, its not OBC) it holds its own on a different scale. If you're looking for a more broadway sound, obviously try the Original Broadway Cast, everyone's the same (except for Mimi - Rosario Dawson and Joanne - Tracie Thoms). If you're more rock and are THAT into showtunes, get the full length CD.

My friend purchased the Highlights after seeing the movie (which she LOVED) and she finds that some of the most moving songs like 'Another Day' aren't on there. SO, I'm just warning potential buyers...the original movie soundtrack may be more expensive, but its worth it. You can capture the FULL magic of it.

I love this musical and this cast, I would hate to see you miss out.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2005
RENT was a musical that defined a generation. The songs were rock and roll yet had a tender edge to them that appealed to many people across the globe. While the Origninal Broadway Cast album is great, one cannot deny that many of the songs are unneccessary, which is why the movie soundtrack is so excellent. It has all of the best songs from the OBC while trimming down much of the fat, making it the more concise record.

Most notably, 6 of the 8 Original Broadway Cast members have returned, and for the most part, they sound better than ever. Taye Diggs shows on "You'll See" that his voice has improved over the years, now sounding less forced than on the OBC and more melodic and pleasant. Anthony Rapp once again displays why his character have been noted as the heart and soul of the play. Although Idina Menzel's "Over the Moon" is a disappointment, she more than makes up for it in her duet song "Take Me or Leave Me," which is better than it was 10 years ago. While Adam Pascal's voice has lost some of its power over the years, it still blows you away during "One Song Glory" and "What You Own." Wilson Jermaine-Heredia again demonstrates why he won the Best Supporting Actor Tony in 97, doing another fine job as Angel. However, the real showstopper from the OBC on this album is Jesse L. Martin. His solos, "Sante Fe" and "I'll Cover You (Reprise)" are two of the biggest highlights. The former track displaying his orgasmically good low register while the latter tugging at your heart strings until the tears rapidly come. His vocals are much better on this record than the last, and he deserves the accolade as being the definitive Tom Collins.

The two new additions, Rosario Dawson as Mimi and Tracie Thoms as Joanne, enhance the album and show that they deserve their chance to shine along the veterans. Thoms' voice is a power to be reckoned with, as proven on her solo during "Seasons of Love" as well as "Take Me or Leave Me" and Rosario's sweet, earthy voice fares better than Rubin-Vega's harsh tone. For once Mimi actually sounds like she truly is 19, not a chain smoker in her late 20s. Dawson's "Out Tonight" and "Without You" show an actress who really has the essence of Mimi, a daring yet still young woman, down pat, not to mention her excellent singing.

While some may complain about how the music on the soundtrack is too loud, it's important to remember that RENT is a rock and roll album at heart. The song should be loud, they should be attention-grabbing, and they should be intense, both musically and emotionally. Furthermore, the bonus track "Love Heals" is a welcome addition to an already touching album. All in all, this soundtrack, against the OBC, blows it out of the water and every RENT fan should get it right away.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2005
This newly recorded soundtrack to the movie version of "RENT" surpasses its now legendary predeccesor. It's quite a remarkable version of what is now considered a classic. More significantly, this recording stands as one of the most accurate transfers from Broadway to Hollywood in film history. How could it be otherwise with most of the creative team intact and the brilliant idea some insightful executive had to use most of the original cast. These pros knew what they were doing eight shows a week. They know this stuff inside and out and bring all of their vitality and energy to these roles while not letting their mastery blight out the spontaneity.

This nearly perfect recording does have some flaws, mind you. Some of "RENT" was retro went it first appeared ten years ago. Bohemians singing about revolution, masturbation and anarchy? What is this, "Hair"? The piece now seems incredibly anachronistic. It's about as relevent to today's culture as "Oklahoma" (but just as much fun to hear as that great classic). Also, this recording is at times a bit too slick and it loses some of the original's immediacy.

However, these are minor quibbles and there's actually quite a lot of good stuff here. The score has been tightened and strealined. Gone are the "sung through" dialog passages that were so annoying after the second listen. And the orchestrations, while not as hard-driving as the original, are fuller and more textured, creating a plush bed for the vocals. And what vocals they are. Wilson Jermaine Heradia reprises his Tony Award winning role in high style, and he scores direct hits on "Today 4 You" and the haunting "I'll Cover You." He's always been able to mine both Angel's sweetness and his (her?) inner strength. The great Idina Menzel brings her magic to the score's one floppo number, the pretentious "Over the Moon." Her conviction turns that piece of camp into a piece of "almost" art. And the energy she and Tracie Thoms bring to the incendiary "Take Me or Leave Me" makes this the definitive version of that song. Anthony Rapp is once again a wry and amusing "Mark", and he again pairs effectively with Adam Pascal on the title song and the intense "What You Own." The two newcomers, Rosario Dawson and Tracie Thoms, are revelations. While Ms. Dawson brings more vitality than technique to her performance, her Mimi is full of raw emotion and she is quite effective in the quieter moments. Tracie Thoms is a force of nature and she almost steals her two duets right out from under Rapp and Menzel, and that takes some doing. The real hero of this recording, however, is the underrated Adam Pascal. On this recording Pascal's Roger finally becomes the heart and soul of this "RENT". Ponder him as a performer: cover-boy looks and a killer "rock" voice without a trace of self-conscious ego or vanity. His Roger is at once a rock and a gentle soul, and this underlines what "RENT" has always been about -- here are life's castaways, still strong enough to survive and still human enough to care. This soundtrack does full justice to that astounding creation of Jonathan Larson, committed so fully to posterity by a remarkable and eternal cast. No day but today.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
WOW! I just saw the movie today and was really impressed. It is rare that a musical is actually better as a film, but this one was. I thought that it would seem dated but rather it was like going into an early 90's time capsule. It really brought back all the harsh realities of AIDS back then. The singing was really well done. I was moved to tears again and again.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2006
I have been infatuated with the idea of the musical "Rent" for years, but wa never a real fan. All that changed with the release of the feature film, starring 6 of the 8 original cast members.

My honest opinion is this: The film's soundtrack blows the original score away. Rosario Dawson as Mimi Marquez was a stunning choice - Dawson is leagues ahead of Daphne Rubin-Vega's vocal ability at the time of the recording of the original cast. Tracy Thoms sings part of the lead vocals of the bloved "Seasons of Love" and blows me away. The substitutions of these two women were excellent choices and have bettered the musicality of this release by FAR.

Also, unless you are a major fan of the musical, as I am now, I'm sure that you would rather not hear all the asides (voicemails, interludes, etc) so I believe you will enjoy the film soundtrack more.

Some highlights:

"Seasons of Love" - of course. A timeless piece that fits right in with your R&B songs or even a bit of Gospel. It was, after all, Jonathan Larson's attempt at a gospel song.

"Today 4 U" - Wilson Jermaine Heredia is the quintessential Angel Dumott Schunard and it's evidenced in this performance.

"Out Tonight"/"Another Day" - Killer song connection. Besides, Mimi is my favorite character. :)

"La Vie Boheme" - Awesome, fun, upbeat song. Love it. Anthony Rapp shows off some real vocal ability here.

"I'll Cover You (Reprise)" - This song's message of love and Jesse L Martin's amazing voice is enough to literally bring tears to my eyes every time I hear it.

"What You Own" - Describes typical American consumerism and showcases Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal's vocal ability.

In all this is a great buy. It is, in all honesty, in my top 10 albums I own.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2005
I went to see the movie the other day...was virtually alone in a huge theatre (was a matinee) and I must admit, as a so-called Rent-Head, I started off watching this movie very much in my head, looking to compare the soundtracks and fearing that Mr. All American Chris Columbus would completely muck up the power of Rent. Within a few minutes, I was drawn into the story line and by the end of the movie, I was an emotional mess.

I am not going to critique the performances or the changes...some were a bit stronger, some a bit weaker than the original track. I want to talk about what this movie means to me. I was in San Francisco in the 80's, not living an impoverished bohemian lifestyle but definitely dealing with the social and emotional issues of attending memorial services monthly, volunteering to be an Emotional Support Counselor and seeing the people I love(d) the most dying in front of me. For many of the "survivors" of those terrible times, looking back is not an exercise of nostalgia, its an opportunity to release some of the stored pain and sadness that still lingers like a haunting nightmare. Like many, I have worked hard to put up walls to contain that sadness, but though it is a very painful experience, seeing Rent is a pschodynamic way for me to open the valve, to look back, to relieve the pressure of trying to forget.

I never want anyone to imagine that this is a movie that is only about pain, for me or anyone else. Watching love bloom (both romantic and platonic) between the main characters is cathartic...hearing the siren call of La Vie Boheme is always soul stirring.

I know this has not been much of a musical review, but I want people to know that the movie is a keen adaptation, that hearing Collins sing "I'll Cover You" is a life-changing experience. In fact, that is what Rent is about for me, an experience, not just a film or some songs.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2005
In general, this soundtrack is fantastic. Some of the new orchestrations are vast improvements over the already-wonderful cast recording - see "Today 4 U" and "Goodbye Love." Rosario Dawson as Mimi has a lovely voice and seems better suited to gentler songs like "Without You" as opposed to the driving "Out Tonight," but she holds her own. Tracie Thoms as Joanne is a welcome addition to the cast, blowing the roof off her verse of "Take Me or Leave Me." As for the 6 original cast members, Anthony Rapp plays Mark with skill and sensitivity ("Halloween" is fantastic!). Taye Diggs, given very little due as Benny, sounds great on "You'll See, Boys." Wilson Jermaine Heredia gives a wonderful performance as Angel - his character shines in "Today 4 U." Jesse L. Martin makes an even better Collins now than he did in '96 (listen to "Santa Fe," and you'll see what I mean!). Idina Menzel doesn't quite meet expectations as Maureen - she doesn't seem committed on "Over the Moon," her biggest number. Adam Pascal's Roger isn't as vocally strong as it was nine years ago; my favorite song from the cast recording, "One Song Glory," falls a bit flat here. Over all, however, this is an excellent recording, and RENT fans would find it well worth their time.
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