Dreamgirls created a substantial amount of buzz when it was first released at the end of 2006, and has since won two Academy Awards. Although this movie never really struck me as being something I just had to watch, I’ve been curious to check out what all the praise was about. For those of you that don’t know, Dreamgirls is a musical, a whole whack load of singing intertwined with the ongoing plot; much like Grease or Chicago. Like most musical films, Dreamgirls is adapted from a pl…y of the same name, and inspired by the history of Motown Records.
The film takes place during two separate eras, the first taking place between 1962 and 1965. We then skip ahead a few years where the story continues between 1973 and 1975. Back in Detroit 1962, a trio of women (Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce Knowles, and Anika Noni Rose) known as The Dreamettes enter a talent competition with the hopes of awing the crowd with their apparently sensational singing. Things work out even better than they could have hoped when the R&B superstar James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy) is in the need of backup singers for his evening’s performance. Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx) an aspiring young Cadillac dealer further arranges with Early’s manager Marty (Danny Glover) for The Dreamettes to tour as backup singers. As time goes on, the group rapidly gains popularity and Curtis turns his Cadillac dealership into an office for his newly formed record label, Rainbow Records. After a short period of harsh times the group finds their way to the Apollo Theater and other top clubs. Along with the success comes a number of problems for the group, affairs, payola schemes, and betrayal amongst each other.
I really have to say that I don’t know where all the buzz came from, this movie wasn’t too appealing. Sure there were some admiral performances, the costumes were great, and the cinematography as well, but I was never really submerged into the movie. The music was really anything but enjoyable for me, but story did have a couple interesting turns. So in as little words as possible this movie was pretty well put together but not for me, I found it boring and listening to the singing was like getting teeth pulled. Now musical movies have never been my thing, but I did enjoy Grease and Chicago more than this one, but although my taste in music didn’t match the kind that was showcased in the movie. I do have to commend the ladies and even Eddie Murphy for their impressive vocals.
As mentioned previously, there were some admiral performances in this picture from smaller roles like Danny Glover’s to the title roles including Jamie Foxx and Beyonce Knowles. But I couldn’t really piece together how Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar for her performance; it wasn’t bad, but I’d definitely seen better in 2006. But that’s neither here nor there; ultimately Dreamgirls was a superbly presented movie, just not for me.
Presented in a 1080p 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Dreamgirls hits HD DVD with some rather impressive looking visuals. This disc is encoded in VC-1 but looks identical to the Blu-ray release. The picture blends together some rather unique colors; dark atmospheres are filled with bright stage lights and extremely vibrant costumes. The sets and costumes looked really impressive especially in high definition, making for some great looking scenes. The detail and sharpness of the picture are extremely impressive; in fact it was very rare to see any softness in the picture. Flesh tones were as equally impressive, showcasing very realistic hues seen only in the best of transfers. There was an odd scene where grain was apparent but ultimately was unable to take away from what was truly a rather impressive video transfer.
DreamWorks has included a Dolby Digital Plus audio track for this musical which makes impressive use of its capability. Even though this HD DVD sports the DD Plus track opposed to the regular Dolby Digital track on the Blu-ray version, both sound surprisingly identical. As expected from a musical movie, every channel was constantly in use, the bass and rear channel support were used effectively and efficiently throughout the numerous songs. When there wasn’t singing the dialogue predominantly came through the front speakers with superb clarity and crispness. Although there were quite a few high notes with the audio track, I was rather disappointed that DreamWorks didn’t include a TrueHD audio track with this release. Had it been included there would be no denying that Dreamgirls would have been one of the best sounding HD DVD discs out to date.
Dreamgirls is packed full of special features in this 2-disc release. Everyone should check out the massive documentary that will give you an in depth look at this film. Most of the special features are also shown in HD, which is a nice little touch
- Building The Dream – A massive 9 part (1 hr 24 min)making of feature that covers every aspect of the film, including impressive interviews with many of the cast and crew. This is the most impressive feature on the disc and should be seen by all.
- Dream Logic: Film Editing – A 4 minute look at the difficult editing process of the film.
- Dressing the Dreams: Costume Design – One of the most impressive aspect of the film was the impressive costume design, this 8 minute feature briefly talks about the costume each character is fitted with.
- Center Stage: Theatrical Lighting – A nine minute look at the many different lighting conditions for the different productions in the movie.
- Auditions and Screen Tests – 3 audition from, Beyonce Knowles (2 min), Anika Noni Rose (2min), and Fatima Robinson (6 min).
- Pre-visualization Sequences – A 7 part look at the pre-visualization process of the films. From story boards to stand in singers, this features gives a good idea how each scene was set up.
- Extended Musical Numbers – Here we are given 12 extended musical number. Fans of the films musical should really enjoy this feature.
- Music Video – “Listen” by Beyonce Knowles.
The story wasn’t bad, the acting was impressive, but something just didn’t click for me and I really couldn’t enjoy this movie. I’m sure for fans of the era or the music might have a more enjoyable viewing experience out of this movie, but I sure didn’t. Apart from being a rather dismal movie, the audio and video sure were impressive, and the supplemental disc is a sure fan pleaser. In the end I’d say if you were really eager to check this movie out you should rent it first, if you don’t think it looks too appealing then don’t bother because you’re not missing much. As for you fans of the movie, pick yourself up a copy because it sure looks and sounds spectacular.
Special Features List
- Building The Dream
- Dream Logic: Film Editing
- Dressing the Dreams: Costume Design
- Center Stage: Theatrical Lighting
- Auditions and Screen Tests
- Pre-visualization Sequences
- Extended Musical Numbers
- Music Video