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Gregory Nava
Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olmos, Jon Seda
Gregory Nava

The true story of Selena Quintanilla-Perez, a Texas-born Tejano singer who rose from cult status to performing at the Astrodome.
Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 128 min. (Theatrical)
134 min. (Extended)
Price: $21.98
Release Date: 5/19/2020

• “Queen of Tejano” Featurette
• “10 Years Later” Featurette
• Outtakes
• Trailer


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Selena [Blu-Ray] (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 8, 2020)

With 1997’s Selena. Jennifer Lopez began her march to stardom. While not a big hit, it gave Lopez her first main lead role and earned her enough praise to accelerate her career toward the J-Lo we now know.

Based on a true story, we meet Selena Quintanilla-Perez as a young child (Becky Lee Meza). Her father Abraham Quintanilla (Edward James Olmos) leads the family’s vocal group, and when he realizes what a great voice Selena possesses, she becomes a major part of the act.

As Selena becomes an adult (Lopez), she attempts to exert more control over her musical career. While Abraham prefers standards, she likes more modern dance tunes, which she melds into her own form of Tejano. We follow Selena’s career as it progresses toward her tragic end.

Spoiler alert? Obviously it exists as public record that a deranged employee of Selena’s murdered her in 1995, so if you didn’t know this… sorry, not sorry.

Selena doesn’t focus on that issue much anyway, as it brings more of a celebration of her life than an investigation of her death. While the movie touches on that topic, it does so in a brief and perfunctory manner.

If any viewers think Selena might bring a gritty look at the subject matter, a glance at the film’s credits should disabuse that notion. With the real Abraham Quintanilla as executive producer, no one should expect a “warts and all” view of Selena’s life.

The fact Selena came so soon after its namesake’s murder also made any form of objective distance unlikely. The movie hit screens almost precisely two years after Selena’s death, far too soon for fans to accept anything more than a glossy puff piece.

And they got a project of that sort from Selena. A largely perky, positive piece, the film seems oriented to please the singer’s grieving fans more than anything else.

Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, and if the movie helped them come to terms with her tragic death, then good for it. 25 years after Selena’s passing, though, it seems clear that Selena offers a dull, trite cinematic experience.

The story does little more than pursue the usual “rags to riches” narrative, with cliché stabs at romance tossed in as well. After Abraham hires “bad boy” Chris Pérez (Jon Sega) as the band’s guitarist, Selena and he fall in love despite dad’s disapproval.

This offers a minor dramatic arc, but it resolves oddly painlessly, and most of the rest of the film comes nearly free from any form of development or tension. We just get Selena’s giddy rise to stardom and not much more.

Expect plenty of performance scenes – probably too many in terms of the narrative arc, really. We need a few of these to connect to Selena’s talent, but the film fills too much of its running time with the concert shots.

Again, this feels like sop for the fans, and the choices harm any potential dramatic momentum. Too much of Selena acts more as a love letter to its lead and less as a coherent biopic.

Lopez does fine as the lead, though the film demands little of her. Selena mainly needs to seem likable and charming, which Lopez manages.

Lopez does fine with the occasional dramatic scenes and she holds up well for the concert scenes, important given the movie’s focus. Selena doesn’t really allow Lopez to shine, though, simply because it asks so little of her.

And that remains the problem: Selena brings a wholly glossy, unchallenging view of its subject that it lacks almost any real reason to exist as a dramatic story. Really, a collection of musical performances with a handful of fond memories from fans and family would become more useful, as this turns into a long, dull hagiography.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Selena appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie boasted a mostly solid transfer.

Though wider shots could lean a bit soft, these didn’t turn into a major distraction. While I’d prefer more consistent accuracy, the majority of the film appeared well-defined.

No shimmering or jaggies appeared, and I saw no edge haloes or noise reduction. Print flaws seemed absent.

Colors seemed positive. With an emphasis on warm ambers and reds, the film opted for a fairly peppy palette that seemed rich and full.

Blacks were deep and dark, while shadows showed nice clarity and delineation. Despite a few iffy spots, this became a generally satisfying presentation.

Given the subject matter, I felt pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Selena. As with most character films, the soundfield largely remained anchored to the forward channels, but the mix spread out the audio to a satisfying degree.

The front speakers showed fine stereo separation for the music, and they also offered a clean and accurate sense of spatiality and ambience. Sounds blended together well, and they moved neatly between channels.

The surrounds usually presented general atmosphere, but they came to life nicely at times. This occurred mainly for concert performances, where the soundfield to a good degree.

Audio quality seemed to be fairly positive. Dialogue occasionally sounded somewhat thick, but, most of the speech appeared to be fairly warm and natural, and I heard no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility.

Effects replicated the material with acceptable accuracy and depth. Music showed nice dynamic range as well, though the concert scenes could go a little crazy with reverb. Still, this became a fairly appealing representation of the source.

This disc includes both the film’s theatrical version (2:07:26) as well as an Extended Cut (2:13:53). The longer edition provides some minor additions but nothing particularly impactful, so the film plays about the same either way.

A few extras appear here, and Queen of Tejano goes for 18 minutes, 56 seconds and includes comments from father Abraham Quintanilla, brother AB Quintanilla, sister Suzette Quintanilla, musicians Joe Ojeda, Rick Vela, and Pete Astudillo, Univision Music Group CEO Jose Behar, radio program director Ed Ocanas, and husband Chris Perez.

“Queen” looks at the Quintanilla family band and Selena’s musical career. It proves inoffensive and moderately informative, if more than slightly on the fluffy side.

10 Years Later lasts 30 minutes, 25 seconds and features AB Quintanilla, Abraham Quintanilla, Suzette Quintanilla, Astudillo, Perez, writer/director Gregory Nava, producers Robert Katz and Moctesuma Esparza, casting director Roger Mussenden, choreographer Miranda Garrison, costume designer Elizabetta Beraldo, and actors Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olmos, Jackie Guerra, and Jon Seda.

“Later” examines the movie’s roots and development, casting and performances, and other production notes. While not the deepest overview, “Later” gives us some decent thoughts about the film.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a collection of Outtakes. This presents nine deleted scenes and fills a total of 12 minutes, nine seconds.

These tend toward minor exposition and a little more from supporting characters. One that hints at Yolanda’s true nature seems interesting, but the rest feel superfluous.

With Selena, we get a cotton candy love letter to its subject. The movie lacks almost any real drama and becomes a bland collection of music and clichés. The Blu-ray offers pretty good picture and audio as well as a decent set of supplements. Too close to its lead character, the film fails to become more than a puff piece.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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