As far as performances, mostly everyone here is basically just adequate. Zellweger, who seems a little out of her league here, is nothing special and Richard Gereís work here made me nostalgic for those AMERICAN GIGOLO days. Although I did like Zeta-Jonesís work here - she certainly had a spark - the one piece of work that stood out to me was that of John C. Reilly, playing Zellwegerís dim husband. He definitely stood out in both the acting and song categories for me and deserved much better then this film. So if CHICAGO is that mediocre, why did it win the Oscar, you ask? Well, the Academy has always had a history of loving long films, epics, and musicals on a grandiose scale. Itís like why FORREST GUMP beat out PULP FICTION back in 1994. Not that Gump wasnít a good film, but in a race between a sweet film about a guy who travels the globe vs. a dark and brilliant indie original, which flick did you think they were gonna pick? Song and dance, glitz and glamour aside, the end result here is that CHICAGO delivers exactly as promised; if you liked it on Broadway, youíre gonna like it here. But for all newbies and non-fans, the news from this CHICAGO is bleak. This one needed to move off the stage, as a motion picture should always be Ė in my opinion Ė exactly that, moving pictures.
Feature Commentary (with Director Rob Marshall and Screenwriter Bill Condon): This is pretty mundane as far as a commentary goes. There is a lot of Bill telling Rob how great his stuff is and both describing the obvious Ė hereís a cross cut, a good transition, and so on. No real secrets or behind the scenes insight, but what did you expect from a commentary from a film that won the Oscar? (Oh, that Gere guyís an a-hole on the set, maybe? Yeah right!)
From Stage To Screen: The History Of Chicago (27:26): A historic and thoroughly engrossing mini-doc that starts with stories of the first stage production. Interviews with most of the lead cast, including the late great Jerry Orbach (love to see any work from him!) are gems. They also have some footage from the stage versions. At about the 16 minute mark they switch to the film, which is not as good, but it's not bad. Interesting to know that Baz Luhrmann was first approached to direct. The only omission from this otherwise entertaining featurette is that no cast from the film talks here, with the stage cast commenting instead. Itís like they were too important with other things to grace this one with their presence. (Snobs!)
Deleted Music Number Class (with optional Commentary by Director Rob Marshall and Screenwriter Bill Condon) (4:08): Not exactly the most flashy number, this one was cut after testing badly - according to the optional commentary. The guys mostly give excuses of why it wouldnít have worked anyway. Deleted for a reason, but fans will probably salivate to have another song to fawn over.
Disc 2ís big draw is the Musical Performances section, where the songs for fans have been isolated and been sweetened by either extending them, showing them off in full uninterrupted form or showing them from start to finish, meaning right from rehearsal to the end result. Plus with full rehearsal footage, any fans will be on cloud 9!
ē Extended Performances (33:01): Includes Extended Performances of the numbers And All That Jazz, When Youíre Good To Mama, Cell Block Tango, We Both Reached For The Gun, Mister Cellophane, and All I Care About.
ē From Start To Finish (8:41): Really is Start to Finish, showing the many facets of various segments including Richard Gere & All I Care About, Renee Zellweger & Nowadays (which has interviews that need to go!), and Catherine Zeta-Jones & All That Jazz. Very thorough.
ē Rehearsal (14:24): Includes Rehearsals of I Canít Do It Alone, Hot Honey Rag, We Both Reached For The Gun, and Cell Block Tango. For some, this is either going to be a fascinating look at the process of making a movie musical, or for others, a tortuous experience that will have you jumping out the nearest window!
Chita Riveraís Encore (5:10): A look at Riveraís (who played the original Velma Kelly) role in the film. This is a total ass kissing session, masked as a mini-doc. After learning so much more in the History featurette from the first disc, this one feels just like it looks - filler.
An Intimate Look At Director Rob Marshall (19:41): You wanna talk ass kissing Ė if Zellweger loved director Marshall this much, she shouldíve married the guy. Is this really considered an extra?
When Liza Minnelli Became Roxie Hart (13:16): An interesting story of how for a month, Minnelli took over the role of Roxie Hart on stage. Only thing that would have made this one ever better - hearing from Liza herself. (And not just singing in an old clip!)
Academy Award-Winning Production Designer John Myhre (6:09): A look at the Production Design, helmed by John Myhre, who had never done a musical before. Strictly for fans, since itís a bit of a snoozer.
Academy Award-Winning Costume Designer Colleen Atwood (5:31): A look at Costume Design with Colleen Atwood, who has done so many great films. Again, for you fans, itís all here. (p.s. Why does Renee Zellweger, who dotes over the costumes here, whisper every time she speaks?!)
VH1 Behind The Movie: Chicago (35:49): Question. Do you really need to have this VH1 Behind the Movie Feature in a set that has this stuff, but 10 fold? (And it's not condensed like this one!) Guess you do, well here it is! Is there anything else we can get for you?