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Review of the Bluray with NEW transfer and Hours (yes, hours) of NEW Bonus material
on February 9, 2014
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.