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Glee: The Concert Movie(2011)
The multi-generational phenomenon that has inspired millions to embrace their inner-Gleek will soon bring them together to experience Glee a whole new way.
For more about Glee: The Concert Movie and the Glee: The Concert Movie Blu-ray release, see Glee: The Concert Movie Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on December 22, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Dianna Agron, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith
Director: Kevin Tancharoen
» See full cast & crew
Glee: The Concert Movie Blu-ray Review
For Gleeks Only.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, December 22, 2011
Let's start with the obvious: If you're not a diehard Gleek—the portmanteau code-word for geeky fans of Fox's hit musical (or musical hit) TV series Glee—then Glee: The Concert will seem like little more than a rousing 84-minutes of top-40 karaoke and hot-stepping choreography. You may wonder who these fresh-faced twentysomethings-posing-as-high-school-kids are, and why the throngs of tweeners, teens, and middle-aged gay couples in the audience are going positively gaga for them. You'll be confused by the sudden appearance of Gwyneth Paltrow—who sings a radio-friendly version of C-Lo's "F—k You"—and baffled when one performer, who had previously been confined to a wheelchair, suddenly stands up to give a rendition of Men Without Hat's "Safety Dance." If you're not schooled in all things Glee—if you don't know Artie from Puck or Finn from Quinn—you'd do best to pick up season one and start from the beginning.
On the other hand, if you're a Sue Sylvester-quoting, Warblers-adoring, Cheerios cos-play costume-wearing Glee superfreak—with a crush on pretty-boy Blain, an affection for Mr. Shue's sweater vests, and mad envy for Mike Chang's dance moves—then you've come to the right place. Glee: The Concert is for you.
Recorded over two nights at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey—one of twenty-one stops on this year's "Glee Live! In Concert!" tour— the film features all of the show's young cast members in character, performing a selection of chart-topping cover songs that should be immediately familiar to series fans. The concert opens, no surprise here, with Glee's signature number, Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," a song that's seen an impressive spike in iTunes sales—for the both the original version and the cover—ever since it was featured in season one. Glee tends to have this effect on the songs used in the show. This year, the cast beat out Michael Jackson, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and even The King himself—Elvis Presley—for most songs ever included on the Billboard Top 100. What this says about digital distribution, music in the 21st century, and modern culture at large is the subject for another essay, but suffice it to say that Glee is extremely popular.
The reasons for this go beyond the musical selections. Glee resonates largely because of its central theme—a "be yourself" message of inclusion, tolerance, and acceptance, with a soft spot for the underdogs and outcasts. It attempts to put everyone on a level playing field; the cheerleaders, the glee club kids, the nerds and the jocks—the show points out that everyone has insecurities and prejudices, and that we'd all be a lot happier if we accepted ourselves and learned to appreciate our differences. Its diverse, multi-ethic cast—straight and gay, "red and yellow, black and white"—could easily star in a Benetton advertisement.
This is all well and good—and Glee does, I think, represent a positive turning point in how TV shows portray race and sexual orientation—but the concert film tries a bit too hard to cram in a social message where none is really needed. In between songs, the film periodically jumps to vignettes about three real-life teenagers—a gay 9th grade boy, an overweight girl with Asperger's, and a dwarf cheerleader—who've each had to struggle to be accepted by their peers and overcome self-worth issues. Numerous other school-aged "Gleeks" are also interviewed, and they all rave about how Glee "gives a story to the people who don't have a voice" and "helps you realize that everyone goes through struggles." The cumulative effect, though, is a little odd—and sometimes off-putting—as if the show itself is insecure and desperately needs to prove how awesome it is. But perhaps I just need to take off my cynical critic's goggles and put on my 8th grade girl glasses. Through those rose-colored lenses, Glee: The Concert is a supportive, life-affirming experience.
It's also a sugar-rush of fun, a bubble-gummy ode to all things pop. Sure, there are a few duds among the performances—Artie's (Kevin McHale) aforementioned take on "Safety Dance," Kurt's (Chris Colfer) molasses-slow version of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," and Finn's (Cory Monteith) repetitive and unspirited cover of "Jessie's Girl" come to mind—but most of the songs have the fans up on their feet, screaming their pre-teen heads off and hoisting up homemade signs proclaiming their undying love for their favorite characters.
Time in the spotlight is split fairly equally amongst the main cast members, and everyone gets some time to shine. Rachel (Lea Michele) does her best Barbara Streisand impersonation with "Don't Rain on My Parade" and pulls off a literally explosive rendition of Katy Perry's "Firework." Mohawked Puck (Mark Salling) struts onto the stage to do Queen's "Fat-Bottomed Girls," and The Warblers—led by Blaine (Darren Criss)—cover "Teenage Dream," "Silly Love Songs," and "Raise Your Glass" back-to-back. The smoky-voiced Santana (Naya Rivera) nails Amy Winehouse's "Valerie" and earns her keep as the self-proclaimed sexiest member of the New Directions—which has always sounded conspicuously like nude erections to me—while her BFF Brittany S. Pierce (Heather Morris) lives up to her phonetic namesake with "I'm a Slave 4 U." Of course, many of the numbers get everyone involved, like Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind," Lady Gaga's "Born this Way," and the cast's first original song, "Loser Like Me."
It's a solid mix of some of Glee's biggest hits, but those whose musical leanings veer more underground may wonder—for a series so keen on individual expression, why is it that most of the show's music is so staunchly commercial?
Here's the full track-listing:
Glee: The Concert Movie Blu-ray, Video Quality
Glee: The Concert was shot using Red Epic and Arri Alexa high definition digital cameras mounted on 3D rigs that held pairs of each camera side-by-side to create a stereoscopic view. (For the 2D version, I assume only the feed from one "eye" was used.) On Blu-ray, the 1080p image looks like it's been put through some occasionally heavy post-processing to make it sharper and cleaner. Outdoor shots of fans being interviewed often look oddly smoothed out—perhaps to hide pimply complexions and give the pubescent kids a shiny glow?—and there are times when it appears that some slight edge enhancement has been applied to the concert footage. You'll also spot some heavy noise and low-light artifacts during many of the performances and crowd shots. Color is realistic and nicely saturated, but you will notice that blacks sometimes take on a milky grayish quality during some scenes, possibly in order to save shadow detail. The image is acceptable, but far from the best concert film on Blu-ray.
Glee: The Concert Movie Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Fox recreates the aural experience of the Glee concert on Blu-ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that's far better than merely acceptable but just shy of great. In the concert films with the very best audio presentations, you get a distinct sense of being right in the middle of the audience, dead center and several rows back, with the cheers of the crowd surrounding you and the music coming at you forcefully from the front. You rarely get that sensation here. The rear channels could definitely stand to be used more effectively. You'll hear the clapping and screaming of the fans and notice that some of the music has been bled into the back speakers, but the mix just isn't as aggressive as it could be, immersion-wise. The songs sound good—don't get me wrong—but they're sometimes a bit distant and uninvolving, with vocals boosted cleanly at the top but instrumentation that sits too shyly in the background. That said, there are a few numbers that sound fantastic when turned up loud, specifically "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Firework," both of which are considerably punchy and dynamic when they really kick in. Vocals are always clear and easy to understand, and there are no hisses, pops, crackles, or sudden dropouts. The disc also includes numerous dub and subtitle options for those who want or need them.
Glee: The Concert Movie Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The 2D version contains identical features to the 3D release. The lone extra exclusive to the 3D set is a replica of the 30-page tour booklet that fans could pick up at the actual concert. If you think you might ever buy a 3D TV, it might be worth it to pick up the 3D version, which also includes the 2D film on the same disc.
Glee: The Concert Movie Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Glee concert movie bombed at the box office due to poor marketing and a public unwilling to shell out extra bucks to see it in 3D, but I suspect many a Gleek will find this Blu-ray release nestled in a stocking or under a Christmas tree. This is most definitely a "for fans only" film, but it does cater nicely to the show's followers, who will appreciate seeing these songs performed in a new setting. Recommended for Finn-o-philes, Rachel- wannabes, and Kurt-oholics.
Glee: The 3D Concert Movie: Other Editions
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