This is a fantastic musical. From the beautifully designed sets, to the period costumes, to the show-stopping song and dance numbers, it will simply razzle-dazzle the viewer. The director and his singing and dancing troupe of stars simply pull out all the stops in this brilliantly executed musical.
The film, which provides a cynical and satirical look at fame and fortune, centers in nineteen twenties Chicago around two murderesses, Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger). Velma, who together with her sister, was a dance hall success, killed her husband and her sister when she caught them together en flagrante delicto. True to the maxim, however, that the show must go on, she goes on stage immediately after dispatching the two lovers, where she is promptly arrested.
Roxie Hart, an admirer of Velma Kelly, is married to Amos Hart (John C. Reilly), a good-hearted, regular Joe, but she longs for tabloid fame and fortune. She begins to have an affair with a man who promises that he could get her a stage gig only to find that he lied just to get her in bed. So, she ends up killing him. Her long suffering husband stands by his little woman as she is trundled off to jail to await trial. There she meets her idol, Velma Kelly, who finds her hero-worship annoying.
In the jail, Matron "Mama" Morton (Queen Latifah) reigns supreme over the inmates, accepting bribes for favors. Velma Kelly, represented by star defense attorney Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), is in tabloid heaven. Roxie Hart, longing to be in tabloid heaven as well, gets her husband to retain Billy Flynn on her behalf. Before she knows it, she, too, is in tabloid heaven, playing the media like a violin.
The legal profession also gets a cynical slap in the guise of the slimy, fast talking Billy Flynn, who looks for the best selling point rather than for the truth. He understands the thirst of the media for the perfect sound-bite and he gives it to them. Guilty or not guilty, it doesn't matter. What matters to him, as a hired mouthpiece, is the media mileage he can get for his client, as well as for himself. To that end, he is the ventriloquist, and his client is no more than his dummy.
The razzle-dazzle musical numbers move the story along. Catherine Zeta-Jones is terrific, looking impossibly beautiful and showing off her musical theatre background to great advantage with "All That Jazz" and "Cell Block Tango". Queen Latifah is outstanding as the sly and voracious Mama Morton, who goes whichever way the wind is blowing. She also has a show-stopping musical number, "When You're Good To Mama" that is simply memorable. Renee Zellweger, though not a professional singer or dancer, shows that she can sing and dance with the best of them.
The men also shine in this musical. John C. Reilly, as Roxie's long-suffering husband, also has a terrific number, "Mister Cellophane", that is truly heart rending and poignant, as well as metaphoric. Richard Gere gamely rises to the occasion in his first musical, making the slick Billy Flynn character an integral part of the film with his "Razzle Dazzle" number and his tap dancing.
I love this top notch, clever film, finding it hugely entertaining. It deserves every one of its six Academy Awards, including that for "Best Picture". Director Rob Marshall deserves kudos for this brilliantly directed, seamlessly edited, musical masterpiece. While it is a fairly faithful screen adaptation of Bob Fosse's Broadway musical, it has Rob Marshall's contemporary imprimatur on it. It is a film of which he can be justly proud. Bravo!
The Diamond Edition of Chicago arrives on blu ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 1.85:1 encode. The new master was prepared in Dolby Vision, a relatively recent proprietary technique that is said to significantly boost detail and contrast. There are indeed noticeable differences between the previous blu ray and this one. Detail is noticeably improved. Part of this is due to the increased contrast, which is most noticeable in the darker scenes. Image is wonderfully textured. The original grain structure was preserved, with cleaner and crisper details. There is a greater sense of depth. Director Rob Marshall manipulates colour like a master. The final result is a film with severe colour changes, dark scenes, stark contrast, and razzle dazzle look. (4.5/5)
The previous blu ray edition has a reference quality 5.1 PCM uncompressed audio transfer. This Diamond Edition has an audio upgrade to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless track. Robust and powerful, yet still marvelously nuanced, this highly active, impeccably modulated track brings Chicago to brilliant life, immersing us in all of the film's varied settings and creating a seamless aural atmosphere. The surround channels are all well utilized. The musical numbers, of course, shine, with nicely prioritized vocals. The orchestrations envelop with ease, pouring out of all the speakers with fantastic fidelity and a purity of tone that exhilarates the senses. This is a fantastic and immersive soundtrack, that is totally enjoyable. (5/5)
Chicago has an estimated budget of $42 million, but has a wonderful worldwide gross of $306 million.
Chicago won 6 Oscars in 2003, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Editing and Best Sound. In addition, it was nominated in 6 other categories.
Chicago intoxicates the senses with its effervescent blend of searing story and exhilarating song and dance. It is further distinguished by an inventive and riveting presentation and packed with breathtaking numbers, kinetic energy, and bite and cynicism galore. Zellweger had no formal dance or vocal training before she joined the Chicago cast, but her fierce dedication to the part and fearless execution of the demanding routines erase any indication she's a novice. If Zellweger is a surprise, however, Zeta-Jones is a revelation, with a well-deserved Oscar for her performance.
This Diamond Edition from Lionsgate brings this modern classic to life like never before, thanks to spectacular remastered video with enhanced clarity and vivacity, a 7.1 lossless audio track that's every bit as nuanced as it is bold, and a brand-new retrospective documentary that explores every nook and cranny of the production. Even if you have the previous blu ray edition, this Diamond Edition is definitely worth the upgrade or double dipping. Of course this set is highly recommended. When you make the purchase, make sure you choose the Diamond Edition, otherwise you end up with the earlier release.
on 19 August 2014
The description and even the box say Region A, but it played fine on my Region B player. The picture and sound quality of the Blu-ray are top notch, and is a new remaster compared to the Region B disc.
The new extras are pretty extensive, and interesting if you're into musical theatre, but made me smile all the way through thanks to director Rob Marshall's ill-advised fake tan that makes him look like he's escaped from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.
The only thing that's a shame is that the older extras (including the deleted song "Class") are on the included DVD rather than the Blu-ray, and some people might have a little trouble playing the Region 1 DVD. Even then, I'd suggest that purists watch it rather than the Region 2 DVD, because the PAL transfer process involves speeding up the audio which is sacrilege for a musical.
All in all, a very impressive definitive edition of my all-time favourite movie musical, which is only slightly marred by minor problems. I got it at a really good price (cheaper than the slightly inferior UK Blu-ray) and was delighted with it.
Not since ALL THAT JAZZ (1979) have I seen a film musical with as much raw energy as CHICAGO. This is fitting since the former is about the life of the brilliant director-choreographer-composer Bob Fosse, and the latter is an adaptation from his stage musical of the same name. As a matter of fact, the opening number in CHICAGO is "All That Jazz".
CHICAGO has, of course, enough of a rudimentary plot to cement together the dance numbers, which are the film's raison d'être. Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) is a wannabe dancer in 1930s Chicago, who idolizes Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones). However, both are arrested for murder, Roxie having gunned down a duplicitous lover after he reneges on a promise to introduce her to a friend who can get her into the Biz, and Velma for having whacked her husband and her sister when she caught the two in bed together. Thrown into Cook County Jail, both fall under the control of the jolly and corrupt Matron "Mama" Morton (Queen Latifah), and both retain the services of Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), a flamboyant lawyer who specializes in defending women accused of homicide, and who's never lost a case.
There aren't enough superlatives to describe CHICAGO, and I fear my review won't do it justice. Jones, a former dancer before she turned actress, struts her magnificent stuff beginning with the opening number ("All That Jazz"). Zellweger and Gere, neither hoofers by training, are seemingly miscast - but it works magnificently. All three sing and dance their way through the film in visually stunning choreographed numbers that had the audience clapping after each.
As Roxie and Velma worked their way through the criminal and judicial systems, the creators of CHICAGO were astoundingly clever in superimposing a musical version of each step in the process on the "real" one, for examples, the on-site police investigation of Roxie's crime ("Funny Honey"), Matron Morton's introductory speech to her new charges ("When You're Good to Mama"), Flynn's entrance ("All I Care About"), and Roxie's defense ("We Both Reached for the Gun"). My favorite comes during Roxie's trial when Flynn, more showman than counselor, displays his philosophy on defense strategy with the glitzy "Razzle Dazzle".
CHICAGO is loud, colorful, in-your-face, exuberant entertainment. I'd give it 10 stars if I could. And if you didn't take the opportunity to see it while it's on the Big Screen at the beginning of 2003, then you've done yourself a huge injustice. I beg you to see this film!
I enjoyed this set, with the substantial extra material, a lot of which is very interesting, particularly the extended version of particular numbers, in which you get some ides of how they were prepared and rehearsed. It's an excellent show anyway, with a lovely, quick paced seedy atmosphere, and it is very, very professionally done. Why not 5 stars? Well, I enjoy the work of Renee Zelwegger, Catherine Zeta Jones and Richard Gere - they are all very skilled, very professional and very, very good, and their performances give a lot of pleasure, but I never feel that any one of them is a died-in-the-wool vaudeville performer, a true music hall artiste. At its worst (and this impression is only very occasional) it just seems a little too much like hard work. It is a very carping criticism, but whereas, say, Liza Minelli in 'Cabaret' seemed born to the role, these three are more like fine professionals who won it at audition and have done a fine, conscientious job. But no-one should hesitate from buying the set. It does pretty good justice to a very good show and is very good value for money.
on 20 December 2015
The first musical to win the Best Picture Oscar after 34 years, this 2002 Rob Marshall's adaptation of a 1975 Broadway musical lacks the warmth and romance of the 2001 Baz Luhrmann's hit "Moulin Rouge", but certainly rivals its daring predecessor in glamour. It's sumptuous to look at and thoroughly glorious as far as film-making is concerned. However, an emphatic viewer has a hard time to identify with any of its characters. Yep, probably no woman would like to find herself in a situation Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones found themselves in here -- murderesses. Maybe later on, when Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Zellweger) are helped by a slick lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) and insatiable press to become celebrities of their own. Much like a fairy-tale for grownups, this film does not worry about morals or profound lessons on humanity. Rather, it offers a real show, based on the roaring 1920's with all its sex and prohibition. "Chicago"'s final effect on viewer is enhanced by great acting, singing and dancing performances from the leading three actors (Zeta-Jones won Oscar for her supporting role), sophisticated choreography and perfect editing, often making for an all-out exhilarating impact.
on 5 March 2012
Wow! All singing, all dancing AND Richard Geer! What more could a girl want on a rainy day. Tune up before the video starts because you'll be singing along before you know it. Catherine and Renee are slinky and sexy, Queen Latifah absolutely brilliant as Mamma Morton and Richard improves every shot he's in. In most musicals, you get a few really good tunes and forget the others. Not in this musical - every song is catchy and memorable. The pace is so fast you'll lose at least 2lb in weight just keeping up with it. Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
on 19 July 2013
I played this again last night. Sophisticated, pacey, how good it is to find a film which gives the lead actors a chance to use many of their talents. Acting, singing, dancing, all to a very high standard. Catherine Zeta Jones: Renee Zellweger: Richard Gere and then John C. Reilly sings 'Mr. Cellophane' absolutely beautifully. The musicians, the dancers. The whole production has great vitality. I love it.
This is a musical in the tradition of musicals that are entertaining and easy to digest, and yet some hours later leave one with some apprehension. Is it really the intent of the story to celebrate getting away with murder? Or is this movie a statement about how murder by women in emotionally trying circumstances can be justified? Or perhaps is this an indictment of the criminal justice system? Or is this just a spicy entertainment?
I'll opt for the latter; however I can tell you that women will find this more agreeable than their spouses. There is a kind of historically revisionist feeling to the sentiments expressed. I seriously doubt that this production, in which murder from jealousy is seemingly justified, would have been produced as a musical comedy before the modern era.
But never mind. What makes Bob Fosse's Chicago a hit (and the Academy's Best Picture of 2002) are the beautifully staged and choreographed song and dance numbers, the spiffy direction and neat editing, a lot of leggy flesh along with some fine performances by Queen Latifah, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger.
In particular I liked Queen Latifah's performance. When she comes on singing "When You're Good to Momma" she just about brings the house down. I also liked her portrayal of the savvy and corrupt Boss Lady on Murderess Row. Zeta-Jones got the Oscar for best Supporting Actress, and she was good, but I think Latifah, who was also nominated, was just as impressive if not more so.
Zellweger, looking almost anorectic compared to the last time I saw her in Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)--released only the year before--gives a solid performance in a very demanding role, although to be honest, it appeared that she was doing a lot of lipsyncing. Still one is amazed at how good she and Zeta-Jones were at the old song and dance, not having been previous known for being twinkled-toed.
You might want to see this to compare how it stands up to a long line of filmland musicals, such as Oklahoma, South Pacific, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Phantom of the Opera, etc. Chicago certainly is well within the confines of that venerable traditional, although it is my feeling, that despite the Academy's favor, this is just a notch below the best.
on 4 September 2006
I saw this version of 'Chicago' on television about a year ago and thought it was sensational, as a film I would give it a hundred stars if I could. My 'one star' rating is a reflection of how enraged I was at the way this DVD has been produced. The box says "Dual Layer Format. Layer transition may trigger a slight pause." Well, nice of them to warn us but what an understatement that turned out to be. The first 50 minutes or so were fine but after that the picture continually 'froze' for a few seconds before resuming. This was disruptive enough during 'conversational' scenes but when musical numbers (including my favourite song, 'Razle Dazzle' which I had been waiting for) were interrupted like this I found it impossible to watch. I know nothing about 'layer transition' and the rest of the technicalities but I think it is unforgivable to put such a flawed product on the market and to ruin a wonderful film such as this in this dreadful way. I urge you not to buy this edition. Don't even think about it.