Dreamgirls appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, this became a quality presentation.
Sharpness worked well, as the movie consistently exhibited solid delineation. However, light edge haloes cropped up at times, and those created minor distractions. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and source flaws remained absent through this clean presentation.
The palette of Dreamgirls favored warm oranges, browns and similar tones. These complimented the dark-skinned actors and provided a lush setting for the film, so the colors seemed full and dynamic.
Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows appeared clear and well-defined. Only the mild edge haloes knocked it down a level.
I also felt pleased with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Dreamgirls. Given the movie’s nature, it should come as no surprise that music dominated the affair.
The many, many songs displayed strong stereo imaging and opened up well to the rears. The whole spectrum delivered the music in an involving, immersive manner.
Effects played a smaller role, but they seemed well placed and appropriate. Crowd noise helped put us in the live settings, and other elements worked fine as well. This wasn’t a terribly ambitious soundscape, but it succeeded for what it needed to do.
Audio quality seemed fine. Of course, music remained the most aspect of the track, and the mix rendered these elements well. The songs and score were warm and dynamic throughout the movie, with clean highs and deep lows.
Speech was natural and concise, while effects appeared accurate and clean. All in all, I felt pleased by this satisfying soundtrack, albeit one that lost points due to the lack of a lossless option.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the movie’s DVD version? Audio was identical – literally, as the Blu-ray lacked a lossless option. Though the soundtrack worked fine, the absence of lossless material disappointed.
Visuals showed superior resolution and vivacity. Even with the presence of the edge haloes, the Blu-ray offered a clear step up in picture quslity.
The Blu-ray repeats the extras from the DVD, and on Disc One, we start with 12 Expanded and Alternate Scenes. Viewed together via the “Play All” option, these fill a total of 36 minutes, nine seconds.
Music comes to the forefront in these clips, as they all revolve around performance numbers. We get some without cut-aways to other elements, and many just run longer than in the final flick.
All are entertaining to see, especially the ones that only appear in incidental form in the movie such as the TV performance of “I’m Somebody”. Nothing here expands the story or dramatic arcs, but it’s fun to see the clips anyway.
We also find a music video for “Listen” by Beyonce Knowles. The three-minute, 49-second clip alternates shots from the movie with simple lip-synch images of Knowles. It’s neither a memorable song nor a creative video, though Knowles looks exceedingly hot in her non-movie shots.
Over on Disc Two, we start with a series of featurettes listed under Building the Dream. Taken together, these run a total of one hour, 54 minutes and 46 seconds – and take them together you should, as they’re meant to be viewed as one long documentary.
“Dream” offers remarks from Knowles, director Bill Condon, producer Laurence Mark, composer Henry Krieger, casting director Debra Zane, executive producer Patricia Whitcher, production designer John Myhre, choreographer Fatima Robinson, co-choreographer Aakomon “AJ” Jones, choreographer’s assistant Eboni Nichols, director of photography Tobias Schliessler, associate choreographer Joey Pizzi, music supervisors Matt Sullivan and Randy Spendlove, music producers Damon Thomas and Harvey Mason Jr., first AD Richard Graves, costume designer Sharen Davis, theatrical lighting designers Peggy Eisenhauer and Jules Fisher, department head hair stylist Camille Friend, department head makeup Tym Shutchai Buacharern, visual effects supervisor Gray Marshall, and actors Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Loretta Devine, Anika Noni Rose, Keith Robinson, Danny Glover, Sharon Leal, and Hinton Battle.
“Dream” looks at the stage production and its adaptation for the screen, casting, and pre-production subjects like set design. From there we move through choreography, songs, performances and recordings, and the actual shoot. We also learn about locations, cinematography, lighting and camerawork, costumes, hair and makeup, and the movie’s premiere.
When I received this set, I bemoaned the lack of an audio commentary. After I watched the excellent “Dream”, I didn’t really miss the commentary anymore.
“Dream” digs into so many issues in such a full, rich manner that it covers virtually all the appropriate bases. We get a tremendous amount of good information, and a surfeit of fine behind the scenes elements help make the program even better. This is a terrific look at the production that really entertains as it informs.
Next we find Dream Logic: Film Editing, a four-minute, eight-second featurette. It includes comments from Condon, editor Virginia Katz, and 1st assistant editor Ian Slater.
They discuss the challenges involved with chopping down the reams of film shot for Dreamgirls into a coherent whole. We also learn the rationale behind many of their editorial choices in this tight, informative piece.
For the eight-minute, 21-second featurette Dressing the Dreams: Costume Design, we hear from Davis as she discusses her influences and style choices. This adds up to another insightful program that gives us a good look at the decisions made for the flick.
Another featurette looks at Center Stage: Theatrical Lighting. It goes for eight minutes, 44 seconds as it features Condon, Eisenhauer and Fisher.
They chat about the techniques they used for the movie’s various lighting challenges. We get a mix of useful details, especially about the ways the lights reflected what would have worked in the movie’s era.
Under Auditions and Screen Tests, we locate three clips. This area houses “Dreamgirls – Beyonce Knowles Screen Test” (2:24), “Ain’t No Party – Anika Noni Rose Audition” (2:09), and “Steppin’ to the Bad Side – Fatima Robinson Choreography Audition” (6:20).
Parts of these appear already in the long “Dream” documentary, but it’s great to see them on their own here. I especially like the one with Knowles, as we see her bring out her internal Diana Ross.
Seven Previsualization Sequences come next. We get “The Talent Show” (9:35), “Fake Your Way to the Top” (6:57), “Cadillac Car” (3:01), “Steppin’ to the Bad Side” (8:24), “I Want You Baby” (2:45), “Heavy” (1:46) and “Hard to Say Goodbye” (4:29).
These mix filmed storyboards, some musical test footage, and audio to approximate the flow of the scenes. They offer a cool way to see the movie’s planning processes.
Finally, we find an Image Gallery. This splits into four areas: “Storyboards” (988 across 10 subdomains), “Costume Designs” (78), “Production Designs” (15), and “Art Department Archive” (31).
All four areas offer some great material. The storyboards are genuinely exhaustive – and exhausting, as flicking through them cramped my hand! I think the art department material is the most fun, though, as we get good looks at the album covers and posters created for the flick.
Dreamgirls provides an inconsistent but often entertaining piece of work. Though it sags as it goes, it provides a better than average movie musical and displays enough strengths to make it worthwhile. The Blu-ray offers largely good picture and audio as well as a compelling roster of supplements. I feel pleased with this release.
To rate this film visit the DVD Review of DREAMGIRLS