"Burlesque" Blu-ray Review

March 10, 2011 by DVD Report Staff

Click Here!Even among some of her most negative critics, Christina Aguilera is agreed to have an unique vocal talent that truly lets her stand out from her painfully-obvious manufactured peers in pop stardom. Unexpectedly, however, that talent eventually led her to a stagnant career and despite much attempt she hasnít quite managed to come back out on top. So, it struck me as odd when I started seeing trailers for this movie. Not that she was doing a musical, but rather that the whole point of it seemed to act as a showcase of her real, nearly surreal, talent given the average quality of pop music. Seeing as how itís almost a decade too late, though, it actually comes off as something of a memorial for her career.

A small town singer, Ali (Christina Aguilera), moves to the big city for her chance at stardom where she is enchanted by Burlesque, a glamorous nightclub packed with dancers, sizzling music, and an owner (Cher) in need of a star. Jam-packed with visually stunning musical numbers and an all-star cast featuring Eric Dane, Kristen Bell and Stanley Tucci.

Of course, the highlight of the movie that had people chattering fervently was the co-starring role of one of musicís most prominent divas of all time: Cher. The character, though obviously original to the story, was so blatantly written for Cher that eventually you just expect everybody to simply refer to her as such. Aguilera, in an unexpected simplistic country girl role, managed to truly astound me with her actually decent acting capabilities. Many pop stars have made the questionable transition from trendy idol to aspiring actor, ultimately leading to many to find themselves with a quickly crumbling career. Itís been quite interesting how transparent their manufactured faÁade of alleged talent can become with even the simplest of movies. Aguilera, however, seems as though she could easily have a future in further movie roles. Maybe it helps that her career stalled before she attempted such a thing.

The rest of the cast is filled out somewhat similarly between Cher and Aguilera as they are both given a pair of male characters that toss them the various plot obstacles. For Ali thereís the unfortunately clichť love triangle with Jack (Cam Gigandet) and Marcus (Eric Dane), while Cher is accompanied by confidant Sean (Stanley Tucci), and vaguely established husband Vince (Peter Gallagher). Jack, Marcus and Peter generally are left to be included solely when the plot calls for them, leading to gaps where it seems odd that Jack doesnít seem to be present. Oddly, Stanley Tucci stands out even more than Cher or Aguilera as he gets most of the best dialogue throughout the movie and always seems like the most multi-dimensionally charismatic out of the rest of them. I couldnít help but be overly shocked by this given that Iím most familiar with the actor from his role in THE CORE.

The story itself, although I wasnít expecting much, was unfortunately incredibly plain and ultimately disappointing. It starts without any proper introduction to Aguileraís character aside from showing her simplistic origin in which most of the time is dedicated to a daydream. Weíre never given much backstory for her, or really get to see her shine outside of the titular plot given that the movie takes absolutely no time in getting her into a burlesque role. As the movie goes on it feels nearly like Cher is supposed to be the main character, until an overly clichť backstabbing-gone-awry gets Aguileraís character to show off her talent much to the shock of the whole cast of the burlesque show given that itís established they merely lip-sync. Itís, of course, made pretty blatant that the others lip-sync even before we receive exposition confirming as such due to the singing being obnoxiously drowned out before Aguilera becomes the sole singer. I can only assume it was done this way in order to not only make it clear to the movieís audience, but possibly even to serve as a jab to those who suggest she dabbles in lipsynching as much as her pop-peers.

Overall, I have to say I was very disappointed with this. Admittedly, I wasnít expecting much since I donít really care for such contrived attempts at showing strong female characters by thinking that obscure, yet subdued, perversion serves as some sort of equivalence of feminine progression or even simply ďgirl power,Ē but at the very I was expecting a musical that could have a redeeming song or two. That was certainly not found here, as the musical aspect of the movie merely seemed to serve as a montage for scenes that should have been focused on rather than glazed over in favor of unnecessary fluff, such as Cherís solo act in the middle of the movie. The only song that even came close to being anything near worthwhile, mostly because it was the only one that didnít serve as a montage, was at the very end to attempt to give a contrived climax - which was severely missing from both the main and the few subplots. Itís pretty easy to understand why the hype surrounding this movie was fairly high leading up to its release, and then fizzled away once it debuted, and thatís why I can only suggest this as a Rental.

The Blu-ray
Click Here!Sony jumps on the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack band wagon with Burlesque. Perhaps theyíve done this before in the past and I just missed picking up on it (or I didnít review it), but this isnít exactly the type of film that, to me, you would need two copies of. I mean if you have a Blu-ray setup, wouldnít you want to watch a big, flashy musical in surround sound in the highest possible quality? Itís not exactly something you want to watch on DVD in your laptop at an airportÖthen again, for me, itís not a film you want to watch at all. But thatís not the purpose of this Blu-ray portionówe must tackle the release itself and Sony did a pretty admirable job of presenting it here with a standard two-disc Elite Blu-ray case housed under an embossed and foil reflective slipcover.

Video is an AVC encoded 2.40:1 effort and it looksÖwell, actually itís moderately underwhelming. The trailers depicted the film has being tons of glint and glam, but in-between the set pieces and song numbers there was a lot of overly soft visuals and shots that just didnít really impress or wow me in the least. Granted once the promised visuals that the shiny Blu-ray cover represents came to light my eyes perked up as the lighting changed, the image sharpened and it just looked quite spectacular. This isnít to say the normal visuals werenít still of near top quality, but there is a definite distinction to be made between the two.

Audio, on the other hand, is pretty much just perfect all around. You expect a musical to be big and loud and thatís just what Burlesque is. Backed by a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix the film is wall-to-wall audio once a musical number starts and even if you donít really enjoy the movie for what it is, the spread of the mix is still to be respected. Definitely a ton of LFE output and surround sound usage to be had during any one of the big numbers, but also the quieter dialogue driven scenes retain a sense that they arenít just focused entirely in the front channels.

Extras are a pretty healthy mix and include:

Director's Commentary
Alternate Opening
The Burlesque Lounge: Alternate Full Musical Performances!
Blooper Reel
Burlesque is Back!
The Performers: The Cast of Burlesque
Setting the Stage: Production Design & Performers
Inside the Dressing Room: Creating the Burlesque Look
The Set List: The Music & Choreography of Burlesque

All total youíre looking at about forty minutes of special features plus the commentaryÖso itís a pretty nice mixture altogether of extra goodies and it almost makes you sad the film didnít do better than it did. In the end youíll only want this disc if youíre a fan of the film; in which case itís Recommended. Otherwise stick to a Rental.

Burlesque is now available on Blu-ray + DVD and DVD.

Film review by Andrew
Blu-ray review by Zach Demeter


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