Chicago (2002)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Musical number, Featurette, Sneak Peeks

Directed by Rob Marshall and written by Bill Condon, ’Chicago’ was one of the most critically acclaimed film sensations of last year, and also won countless awards, including six Oscars. I had not been able to catch the film during its theatrical run and was eager to see it on DVD when it finally arrived on my desk. Quite frankly however, while it is a good and solid film, it just doesn’t do much for me.

Presented in the form of a musical with many dream-like sequences, the film tells the story of Roxy Hart (Renée Zellweger) who shot a man in a blind rage for using her. In prison she meets Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), another showgirl, who killed her sister out of jealousy. With the help of Mama Morton (Queen Latifah) they try to get the best legal representation in Billy Flinn (Richard Gere) a greasy attorney at the top of the game. He plays them like puppets, turning them into tabloid superstars with entirely made up but highly effective emotional backstories to ensure that no jury would ever condemn their doings. Will it pay off?

Buena Vista Home Entertainment is presenting ’Chicago’ in its original theatrical widescreen aspect ratio on this DVD, in a transfer that is enhanced for 16×9 TV sets. The transfer is meticulous and entirely free of defects or blemishes. No grain or noise, no mars, there’s nothing. It is a pristine print. Colors are very strong and saturated, but never get over-saturated even during the most colorful song and dance numbers, creating a vibrant image that seems to leap off the screen. The level if detail on the DVD is superb, bringing to life every little seam and threat on the costumes and the elaborate sets. No notable edge-enhancement is evident and the compression has also been handled carefully not to introduce compression artifacts. In a word, this is a perfect transfer, as you would expect from this movie.

The audio on the DVD is similarly flawless. With a wide frequency response and superb surround integration, this is a wonderful track that makes the most of the multi-channel presentation. Good basses, clear high ends and a surround mix that engulfs the viewer are on display here, adding to the overall presentation of this film significantly. The Dolby Digital and the DTS track show virtually identical as both sparkle in their transparency and presence.

A commentary track featuring Rob Marshall and Bill Condon is part of the release, which offers a lot of additional insight into the film and the mind of the people who made it. It is an informative track that never gets too dry or technical, and certainly adds to the release.

A deleted song and dance number has been included on the DVD, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette. Running 30-minutes, it is in actuality a promo featurette with a lot of interview snippets touting the film as best as possible. Not much real behind-the-scenes information there…

’Chicago’ has been eagerly awaited and it is coming as a great DVD. Fans of the film will certainly not be disappointed by what’s offered here, so grab your copy while it’s hot.