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Shall We Dance?(2004)
For longer than he can remember, John Clark (Richard Gere) has led a dull existence... and even with a successful career, charming wife (Susan Sarandon) and loving family, he still feels something is missing as he makes his mind-numbing commute through the city each day. But one night, on his evening ride home, he looks up to see a beautiful woman (Jennifer Lopez) staring through the window of a dance studio. Haunted by her gaze, John impulsively jumps off the train and signs up for dance lessons... and his whole life begins to change. Now, he's entering a world he never imagined - the colorful world of competitive ballroom dancing. It's a place filled with grand passions, bitter rivalries, great friends and strange couples and it's about to reignite the excitement in John's life - not to mention the lives of his family, dance instructors and fellow classmates - in ways he's never dreamed.
For more about Shall We Dance? and the Shall We Dance? Blu-ray release, see Shall We Dance? Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 30, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Lisa Ann Walter, Richard Jenkins
Director: Peter Chelsom
» See full cast & crew
Shall We Dance? Blu-ray Review
A mostly dull movie looks at the exciting world of Ballroom dancing
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 30, 2008
Dance begins with the dancer's feelings.
"Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug." Such is the life of a Blu-ray reviewer. Sometimes you get Sunshine and sometimes you get Shall We Dance?. I really have nothing against these types of movies, (see 27 Dresses and Enchanted), but this particular one didn't click, at least not until the end. Despite not being a real fan of any of the leads -- Richard Gere (First Knight), Susan Sarandon (Mr. Woodcock), or Jennifer Lopez (Maid In Manhattan) -- I must admit that each nonetheless brought a heart to their characters that made the entire movie worth watching, but by the time each one finds themselves and the meaning of the film comes to light, it's almost too late to care. Perhaps becoming a bit too sentimental at the end, the movie works nevertheless and ultimately delivers audiences a worthwhile message and a solid, cheerful ending.
John Clark (Gere) is your everyday attorney who rides the elevated train to and from work, his commute a part of the daily, colorless drudgery. One the return trip home, out his port side window is Miss Mitzi's Dance School, and in its window is a mystery woman whom Clark decides he has to meet. He's already married to Beverly (Sarandon), but its clear their marriage is going through a rough spot. She cannot think of anything to buy her husband for his birthday, and they never seem to have time for one another. One day after work, John enters the dance studio and clumsily manages to sign himself up for a beginner's dance class starting that very evening. His instructor is the aged Miss Mitzi (Anita Gillette, She's the One); the girl John was interested in meeting, the mysterious Paulina (Lopez), remains both an object of intrigue and wonder to John (and his fellow students). Meanwhile, as John is keeping his wife in the dark about his newfound passion for ballroom dancing, she becomes convinced all is not right with their relationship, and hires a private investigator to get to the bottom of John's odd and secretive nights out. Will dancing rekindle John's marriage, or will the secret and his newfound love for the activity tear them further apart? Just who is the mystifying Paulina, and will John ever come to know more about her than her outward beauty?
Shall We Dance is a standard-fare movie that lacks any spark or mystery. The open-ended questions asked throughout are answered at the end just as we expect them to be. The last leg of the journey, when the movie begins to come together, is certainly the best part of it, delivering several heartwarming scenes sure to have mushier audience members (and at least one on-screen character) shedding copious tears. What comes from the beginning until we reach the end is formulaic and an exercise in what defines lost opportunity. The characters are far too bland to really care about, and while their status as novice ballroom dancers is exploited to a degree, several opportunities ripe for some good slapstick comedy never make their way into the end product. Granted, the movie is definitely not a comedy, but a bit more humor may have made the movie somewhat more bearable. Despite his status as a secondary character, I liked Vern (Omar Benson Miller, Things We Lost in the Fire) more than any of the leads. He's the overweight dancer whose motives and heart are true, but he's too ashamed to admit why he is really taking dance lessons (not to mention he's demeaned by one of the more unscrupulous-until-the-end characters). Even more so than the main character (John), I felt that Vern was the "every man" through whom the audience could relate, allowing us to connect more completely with the this little-seen on-film world of ballroom dancing. All in all, while the movie is mostly watchable (I must admit to needing a 10 minute break in the middle to recharge), it's ultimately forgettable, definitely a lesser example of its classification.
Shall We Dance? Blu-ray, Video Quality
This 1080p high-definition Blu-ray transfer of Shall We Dance definitely shows that it has been busy dancing, because it is definitely no slouch (see the movie to understand). Presented at 1.85:1, the movie looks very good, sporting an above average, pleasing look that really shines on Blu-ray. While not the best transfer on the market by an means, Shall We Dance? ranks right up there with the "better" transfers, far surpassing many and looking at least somewhat better than most. A major accomplishment, this is nothing to sneeze at and even for a still-young catalogue title, the results are impressive. Flesh tones can look a bit on the reddish side on occasion, this being the only fault (and certainly not a major one) I found with the disc. The movie is generally brimming with rich, vibrant colors, notably red, and they all pass the Blu-ray test with, well, flying (or maybe in this case, better said "dancing") colors. Detail is natural and obvious, everything looking as it should, as one would expect to see on the format that more closely represents real life in the home than anything we've seen before. For example, clothing is immaculately rendered, and every single bead of sweat on the dancers faces is clearly and easily seen. Black levels are deep and rich, definitely proving to be one of the disc's strong points. The movie retains a natural film-like look to it, and there is very little in the way of noticeable grain. While there is a bit of depth about the image, it does not immediately and regularly "jump" off the screen, though it clearly looks as if it wants to on many occasions. Shall We Dance may not be absolute top-tier quality, but it approaches that level, and the image should easily please fans of the movie and Blu-ray owners in general.
Shall We Dance? Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Gliding across the soundstage between "good" and "average" is the PCM 5.1 uncompressed soundtrack found on this disc. Subdued, reserved, and adequate are the three words that immediately come to mind when trying to describe this soundtrack. Dialogue is well-placed, centered, natural and clean, and is never lost or jumbled under even the more upbeat music tracks heard at times during the movie. Some of the more vivacious sequences, such as those taking place in a bar or at "Dr. Dance," are loud, making good use of the entirety of the sound field, but it sounds somewhat muffled and lacking in clarity. For the most part, other than those more rambunctious sequences, surrounds and the subwoofer are rarely employed, but the movie doesn't really cry out for them to join the party, either. There is little need for discrete effects, and the track on the whole is very basic one, even for a movie about dancing to various forms of music. Generally, I felt that what I was hearing was what was intended to be heard, no one element overplayed or under performed, just the right mix for a movie of this style and caliber. It gets the job done, but leaves no real lasting impression, either.
Shall We Dance? Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Shall We Dance? brushes up to Blu-ray with a less-than-stellar selection of bonus materials, though they will no doubt please fans of the movie. First is a feature length commentary track with director Peter Chelsom. The English director is a bit dry and dull, though he does go into quite a bit of detail about the culture of dancing, and how it fits into this movie. He provides in-depth perspectives on the motivations of the characters, digging pretty deep for a movie that's mostly superficial. While slow moving, the track offers a smart, intriguing approach to commentaries, not giving a play-by-play or silly on-set anecdotes, but instead provides a rather intellectually stimulating listening experience.
Behind The Scenes of 'Shall We Dance?' (480p, 24:08) proves to be another in a very long line of generic making-of features, with the actors and crew waxing poetic about the movie and their characters, intercut with all of the good scenes from the movie. Beginner's Ballroom (480p, 6:28) explains what exactly ballroom dancing is. I was hoping for a quick, beginner's lesson on ballroom dancing, but alas, that is another disc (or twelve, to be released someday on Blu-ray) I'm sure. The Music of 'Shall We Dance' (480p, 3:55) examines each of the three styles of music heard throughout the movie, from classical, to modern, to the film's score. Finally, a music video by the Pussycat Dolls entitled Sway (480p, 3:24) and five deleted scenes (480p, 17:31), including an alternate opening, conclude the supplemental features.
Shall We Dance? Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Shall We Dance? is a film that simply failed to speak to me. I came away from the experience with little or no concern for the plot or the characters, despite enjoying the predictable ending of the film. There is nothing wrong with this movie -- it's well acted (even if by a trio of leads who don't rank as my favorites in Hollywood), well made, well scripted, and at times pleasant to sit back and look at. Obviously, as a guy who grew up playing with G.I. Joe figures, toy guns, Transformers, and Nintendo, I'm not the target audience for this film. Even so, my wife, the epitome of the chick-flick lover through and through, didn't like this movie at all when she saw it a few years ago, and wouldn't even watch it with me again on Blu-ray. That's not to say other fans of this genre will be disappointed; one person's opinion is just that, an opinion, nothing to become riled up over. Technically, the Blu-ray is fine, presented with solid video quality and decent audio reproduction, and comes complete with an average set of extras. Shall We Dance is worth renting for that chick flick or dance-lover in your life.
Shall We Dance?: Other Editions
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Shall We Dance? Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Shall We Dance Announced for Blu-ray - February 26, 2008
Buena Vista Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'Shall We Dance' to Blu-ray on May 6th. Pressed on a BD-50, video will be presented as 1.85:1 1080p AVC accompanied by 5.1 PCM audio. Extras include audio commentary with director Peter Chelsom, ...
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