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SCREEN GEMS

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Steve Antin
Cast:
Cher, Christina Aguilera, Eric Dane, Cam Gigandet, Julianne Hough, Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci
Writing Credits:
Steve Antin

Tagline:
It takes a Legend ... To make A Star.

Synopsis:
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.

Box Office:
Budget
$55 million.
Opening Weekend
$11.947 million on 3037 screens.
Domestic Gross
$39.440 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Service
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 119 min.
Price: $34.95
Release Date: 3/1/2011

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Steven Antin
• “The Burlesque Jukebox”
• Alternate Opening
• Blooper Reel
• Five Featurettes
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Burlesque [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 24, 2011)

On paper, I guess Burlesque sounded like a good idea. It’d pair one “classic diva” with a newer one in a big, brash musical extravaganza. How could it fail?

Pretty easily, apparently, as the 2010 flick flopped. Its $39 million gross fell well below expectations/hopes, and it got mediocre reviews at best. I guess this is more evidence that the movie musical can only occasionally find an audience; we get the occasional hit ala Chicago, but big-name stiffs like Burlesque and Nine seem to be closer to par for the course.

Small town waitress Ali (Aguilera) fantasizes about bright lights, big cities and stardom. Fed up with her go-nowhere existence, she quits her job, buys a one-way ticket to LA and pursues her dreams.

Inevitably, Ali struggles to find something, but she lands upon an intriguing option when she stumbles across a live revue club called the Burlesque House. Ali appeals for a job but gets the cold shoulder from owner Tess (Cher). Not one to take no for an answer, Ali wrangles her way into the business as a waitress.

From there, Ali studies the craft of burlesque dancing and hopes for her shot. Inevitably, this arrives, and she dazzles with both her performing skills and her big, National Anthem-botching voice. We follow her rise in the ranks at the club and various connected complications, some of which stem from the joint’s faltering business.

Though it flirts with disaster, I wouldn’t say that Burlesque ever becomes an actual, honest-to-God bad movie. However, it does come close – awfully, awfully close.

The problems mostly stem from the never-met-a-cliché-it-didn’t-love script. Small town girl who tries to make it in the big city? Yeef – that’s about as stale as can be, and Burlesque does absolutely nothing to elevate the material above its ancient roots. If you expect a creative, fresh take on the tale, you’ll not find it; except for some profanity and sex, this script could’ve been written 70 years ago.

And maybe it was, as it’s difficult to believe a 21st century writer thought it was a good idea to pen so many cheesy, limp lines. The dialogue in Burlesque is so terrible that it borders on camp; I find it tough to accept that the actors were intended to read the dialogue with straight faces.

But they do – just barely, at least. Burlesque veers frightfully close to camp, a factor made almost inevitable by the presence of Cher. I don’t think it’s impossible for her to act in a straight dramatic role at this point in her career, but it’s tough; with her immovable surgery-altered face and her ever-increasing embrace of her place as Camp Diva Number One, she’s less human actor and more animatronic icon.

Not that Cher gets much to do here; she may receive top billing in the film, but Tess is really a supporting role without much to do other than set plot machinations in motion. This becomes Aguilera’s chance to shine, but she doesn’t live up to the hopes and hype.

Not that Aguilera is bad. Like the film itself, she manages to avoid a certain level of genuine embarrassment. However, she does come closer to “yech” than “yay”. While she doesn’t stink as an actor, she lacks natural talent in that domain and feels forced. She tends to overplay her scenes and doesn’t connect well with the material.

I think Burlesque could’ve overcome Aguilera’s lack of dramatic chops if it managed to deliver something more original. In addition to the stale script, it provides dance sequences that steal heavily from the Big Book of Fosse. You’ll see many nods to that legend’s work here, but nothing occurs to give the film a look or feel of its own.

Which leaves it without much of merit. Granted, we get some great eye candy – the women look amazing, and in particular, Kristen Bell is super-sexy as a brunette. But that’s about it. Otherwise, this ends up as a showbiz story with nothing new to say.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Burlesque appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This wasn’t a great image, but it was usually good.

Sharpness became the only mild concern, as the movie occasionally looked a little on the soft side. I suspect that this related to the original photography, as the flick favored a “glamour look”; that seemed especially likely given the probable desire to make Aguilera and Cher seem younger than they are.

Whatever the reason, this did leave parts of the movie without especially strong delineation. Nonetheless, the flick usually seemed fairly distinctive. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and edge haloes were absent. Source flaws failed to show up as well; the movie remained clean and clear.

Colors were a highlight in this bubbly flick. The movie boasted a broad palette, and the hues looked lively and vivid. These favored reds and golds, all of which were lush and rich. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows demonstrated good clarity and smoothness. Only the softness caused me to lower my grade down to a still solid “B”.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it should come as no surprise that it favored music. In that realm, the score and songs boasted excellent stereo presence in the front as well as good reinforcement in the rear. The track didn’t feature any prominent unique music from the back speakers, but those channels bolstered the music’s overall impact.

The rest of the mix remained less ambitious. A storm added some involvement, but that was about it. really remained truly dominant, and speech was the second most prominent element. Effects stayed minor and didn’t add much to the proceedings, which was fine, as they shouldn’t have had much to do here.

The track worked well because the music sounded so good. Those songs and score boasted excellent clarity and punch, with clean highs and warm lows. Speech was consistently concise and natural, and the effects – though low-key – were clean and accurate. I thought the mix brought home the music in a very satisfying manner.

As we shift to extras, we find an audio commentary from director Steven Antin. He delivers a running, screen-specific chat that discusses cast and performances, music and choreography, sets and locations, costumes, makeup, editing, deleted scenes and story issues.

Despite a dogged tendency to throw praise at everything involved with the film, Antin provides a pretty good commentary. He gives us a solid nuts and bolts take on the movie and digs into a nice mix of topics. As a first-time director, he has a lot to say, and he ensures that we get a useful track here.

Under The Burlesque Jukebox, we get six full-length musical performances. These include “Something’s Got a Hold On Me (Dancers Version)”. “Long John Blues”, “Guy What Takes His Time”, “Express”, “Jungle Berlin” and “That’s Life”. Most of these act as extended sequences, though “That’s Life” is an actual deleted scene. Altogether, these run a total of 17 minutes, 10 seconds, and they’re a nice bonus for fans of the flick’s tunes.

An Alternate Opening runs six minutes, 33 seconds. This is essentially a longer version of the existing sequence; it adds a few minor bits like a farewell comment from Loretta and also alters the editing; here, we get a musical sequence before Ali quits her job whereas in the final film, that part gets intercut into a montage. It’s not a radically different opening, but it makes a few changes.

Next comes a Blooper Reel. It fills five minutes, 10 seconds and offers the standard assortment of goofs and wackiness. Much of this is forgettable, but we find a few amusing improv moments.

Five Featurettes occupy a total of 33 minutes, 10 seconds. We find “Burlesque Is Back!” (3:19), “The Performers: The Cast of Burlesque” (9:51), “Setting the Stage: Production Design and Photography” (4:11), “Inside the Dressing Room: Creating the Burlesque Look” (5:46) and “The Set List: The Music and Choreography of Burlesque” (11:03). Across these, we hear from Antin, production designer Jon Gary Steele, director of photography Bojan Bazelli, lighting designer Jules Fisher, costume designer Michael Kaplan, makeup designer Cindy Williams, choreographer Denise Faye, and actors Julianne Hough, Alan Cumming, Christina Aquilera, Eric Dane, Cam Gigandet, Cher, Kristen Bell, and Stanley Tucci.

The featurettes discuss the history and nature of burlesque, the film’s origins and development, cast, characters and performances, sets and cinematography, costumes, makeup, music and choreography. While the programs cover a good variety of subjects, they tend to do so in a superficial manner. Most of the time, we just hear how amazing and wonderful everything about the project is. Some good details do emerge along the way, but this remains an inefficient and fluffy collection of programs.

The disc opens with ads for How Do You Know, The Tourist, Country Strong and You Got Served: Beat the World. These also show up under Previews, but no trailer for Burlesque shows up here.

The package also provides a DVD Copy of Burlesque. This provides a standard retail copy of the disc, so except for the featurettes – exclusive to the Blu-ray – it shares all the same extras. That helps make it a nice bonus.

A slightly classier version of Showgirls, Burlesque suffers from a ridiculously stale script and dialogue and a total lack of originality. While it maintains a moderate level of competence, it suffers from an absence of creativity. The Blu-ray gives us good picture and audio along with a reasonably nice package of supplements. I can’t say the movie itself impresses me, but the Blu-ray presents it well.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main