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Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour(2010)
Beyoncé’s I Am. . .World Tour captures concert footage from numerous shows edited into one extraordinary concert.
For more about Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour and the Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour Blu-ray release, see Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on December 13, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Beyoncé Knowles, Shawn Carter, Kanye West
» See full cast & crew
Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour Blu-ray Review
Ignore the self serving confessionals and stick with the music.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, December 13, 2010
Let's just get this out of the way right off the bat: Beyoncé is perfect. She sings beautifully, she moves incredibly, and she has an impeccable business sense, both in terms of self-promotion and for giving her audience more or less exactly what they want. But is it a natural, organic perfection, or something more calculated and manufactured? The answer, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, but this new concert Blu-ray attempts to strip away some of the veneer of impenetrability which surrounds all stars of Beyoncé's magnitude. While at times these interstitial confessionals are unpretentious glimpses into the "real" life of Beyoncé, perhaps even some ardent fans will either be laughing out loud or shaking their heads as the singer-actress sheds a perfectly timed tear while in Ethiopia, not for that country's devastating poverty, but for her own inability to get home to Jay-Z, or, later, when she waxes philosophical about why God gave her such "overwhelming" gifts. Puh-leez. Isn't it enough to be incredibly gorgeous, wealthy, and, yes, talented? We really don't need this kind of self-serving "examination," which is patently pointless and more than a bit contrived. If you're one of Beyoncé's millions of fans, you'll most likely overlook these moments, or actually be moved by the fact that the star would deign to share such supposedly intimate secrets with you (and the several other million who will no doubt be watching). If you're a more jaded viewer, you'll want to use your chapter skip button to get to the music, because that's where this I Am. . .World Tour Blu-ray really explodes into the stratosphere.
I Am. . .World Tour seems to a take a page out of the recent Celine Dion world tour Blu-ray which I reviewed here, mixing snippets from several shows together to make a relatively seamless whole, as well as including "personal" interstitials. Beyoncé, as is perhaps her wont, takes things up a notch by including the "number" of the show as well as its location as these many venues flit by. What becomes obvious, in both the concert footage per se as well as the confessional intercuts, is that this was an immense undertaking. In fact in the supplemental featurette Beyoncé goes into some detail of the "circus" like atmosphere this particular concert tour created, with an incredible 24 trucks' worth of equipment which was hauled worldwide. And just a cursory glance at any of the concert segments shows why so many trucks were needed: a full band and assortment of backup singers are surrounded by an incredible variety of screens and projection equipment which show us everything from state of the art CGI to some cute home movies of Beyoncé as a very young girl already honing her craft.
The concert footage itself, as is to be expected, is nothing short of spectacular, with the singer's trademark melismas and herky-jerky dance moves. It all moves along like a well oiled machine, and if it's only surface deep, despite Beyoncé's perhaps contrived attempts to get up close and personal with her audience (with bodyguards in attendance, of course), it's a patently gorgeous surface, one which glistens with absolute professionalism and commitment. One of Beyoncé's more pretentious sounding confessionals laments her lack of anyone surrounding her who cares for her physical, mental and spiritual well being. Cynics out there might well respond, "With your money, hire someone!," but truth be told, the rigors of this long and virtuosic world tour probably can't be underestimated, and it's a testament to Beyoncé's resilience and will power that she sounds uniformly excellent in all of the footage captured here.
Beyoncé keeps the energy level high throughout the tour, which includes a cameo by her main squeeze, Jay-Z. (Another cameo by infamous Beyoncé fan Kanye West occurs during the probably appropriately named "Ego"). In fact, the incessant energy level actually may get to be a bit of a marathon for the audience, too, with one propulsively bass-heavy tune after another. When Beyoncé finally does settle down for a good old fashioned ballad like "Smash Into You," there's a gentle breeze wafting out over the speakers which is like shelter from a hip-hop, funked up storm. One of the other ballads, "At Last," raised the hackles of its original hit maker, Etta James, when Beyoncé "dared" to sing it for President Obama during the inaugural festivities. While James' reaction was perhaps over-"enthusiastic," the Beyoncé arrangement patently steals the original string orchestration from James' iconic version.
The audiences here are almost hysterical with rapt, tear-streaked faces and nonstop flash photography erupting from their digital cameras. Beyoncé is obviously a star who commands the sort of worship that used to be reserved for the occasional Beatle back in the day, and there is abundant screaming, wailing and moaning (the good kind) here as fans of both sexes seem overcome with the mere possibility of breathing the same air as their idol. In terms of the paparazzi at large, one of the few times a jaded cynic might feel a bit of sympathy for Beyoncé is in one of the interstitial segments, where she attempts to go shopping and is charged by a hoard of marauding consumers who, cameras in hand, want to make her their latest "acquisition." The singer complains that she has to walk around with a frozen smile on her face so that tangential passers-by won't think she's "mean." Okay, maybe it won't create a lot of sympathy, but maybe a little.
This slightly longer than half hour compilation of concert footage contains the following songs and video segments:
Crazy in Love (featuring Jay-Z)
Tomorrow I am Sasha Fierce
Get Me Bodied
Smash into You
If I Were a Boy/You Oughta Know
Socks & Stilettos
Ego (featuring Kanye West)
Sasha vs. Beyoncé
Baby Boy/You Don't Love Me, No No No
Check On It
Are You Filming Me With That?
Say My Name
Single Ladies Contest
Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)
Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour Blu-ray, Video Quality
Beyoncé I Am. . .World Tour blasts onto Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p image in 1.78:1. For the most part, this is as spectacular looking a Blu-ray as it is from a sonic perspective. The full 1080p presentation gives this an impressively filmic look, with excellent fine detail, contrast and some wonderfully saturated colors. Some of the footage has been post-processed to appear overly grainy and with either low or blown out contrast, but those were obviously intentional choices. There is also an abundance of small millimeter formats and low-fi digital formats utilized here, everything from old 8mm home movies to video shot with phones, and those segments are obviously a good deal softer looking than the bulk of the concert footage. The only real problem with this video presentation is some occasional blooming (the red sequences are especially blown out) and some milky black levels, both of which I attribute to some over aggressive stage lighting. Otherwise, this is a dazzlingly sharp and clear concert Blu-ray.
Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Aside from some annoyingly intrusive audience noise, Beyoncé I Am. . .World Tour sounds fabulous, with two lossless tracks, an LPCM 5.1 (48 kHz/24 bit) and LPCM 2.0 (48 kHz/24 bit), offered alongside a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track. (In the odd department, the disc defaults to the LPCM 2.0, and then the next choice is the Dolby track, so keep toggling to get to the uncompressed 5.1 track). The LPCM 5.1 track is astoundingly vibrant, with virtually palpable low frequencies which will set your floorboards a-rumbling. But the overall mix is what's most impressive here, with brilliant use of discrete channels to offer the midrange and Beyoncé's highs with absolute clarity and precision. This Blu-ray does have a bit more audience intrusion than some other concert Blu's that are out there, most likely due to the rapturous response Beyoncé seems to effortlessly command, so if that sort of thing bothers you, you may well want to go with the LPCM 2.0 stereo fold down, where the audience sounds are bit more narrow and not so overwhelming.
Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Mic and a Light (HD; 24:06) is an interesting look at the planning and ultimate presentation of this gargantuan tour, and it highlights Beyoncé's business acumen.
Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
In Celine's similarly structured world tour concert video mentioned above, that singer was shown to be a down to earth mother and wife who just happens to be a superstar. Beyoncé can't quite help but sound like a petulant brat, despite seeming quite well intentioned, in some of the confessional video included here. If you can get past that element, the concert footage itself is amazing and shows why this star is such a worldwide sensation. Recommended.
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Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Beyoncé's I Am...World Tour Blu-ray Announced - November 2, 2010
Music World/Columbia Records have announced the upcoming release of Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour, a full-length concert film Blu-ray lensed during the artist's record-breaking international concert tour. Street date has been set on December 7. The film features ...
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