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Smurfs: The Lost Village (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

July 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who enjoy the Smurfs and videophile/audiophile parents looking for an animated film that looks great in 4K Ultra HD, who also want to entertain their children or the entire family, you can’t go wrong with “Smurfs: The Lost Village”. Recommended for the entire family!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Smurfs: Lost Village

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Compatible), English – Audio Description Track, Catalan, Cantonese, Mandarin, Danish, Dutch (Netherlands), finnish, French, German, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Vietnamese 5.1 Dolby Digital, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, French, Arabic, Cantonese, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Some Mild Action and Rude Humor)

RELEASE DATE: July 11, 2017


Based on the Characters by Peyo

Directed by Kelly Asbury

Written by Stacey Harman, Pamela Ribbon

Producer: Mary Ellen Bauder, Jordan Kerner

Co-Producer: Veronique Culliford, Mandy Tankenson

Executive Producer: Raja Gosnell, Ben Waisbren

Co-Executive Producer: Ben Haber

Music by Christopher Lennertz

Edited by Bret Marnell

Casting by Mary Hidalgo

Production Design by Noelle Triaureau

Art Direction by Dean Gordon, Marcel Vignali


Starring:

Demi Lovato as Smurfette

Rainn Wilson as Gargamel

Joe Manganiello as Hefty Smurf

Jack McBrayer as Clumsy Smurf

Danny Pudi as Brainy Smurf

Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf

Dee Bradley Baker as Monty

Frank Welker as Azrael

Michelle Rodriguez as SmurfStorm

Ellie Kemper as SmurfBlossom

Julia Roberts as SmurfWillow

Ariel Winter as SmurfLily

Meghan Trainor as SmurfMelody

Bret Marnell as Snappy Bug

Brandon Jeffords as Cauldron

Kelly Asbury as Nosey Smurf

Jake Johnson as Grouchy Smurf

Gabrielle Iglesias as Jokey Smurf

Tituss Burgess as Vanity Smurf


In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a roller coaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of THE biggest secret in Smurf history!


Back in the late ’50s, Belgian cartoonist Peyo created the comic strips featuring small blue fictional characters known as the Smurfs. A big success in France, the Smurfs would receive various adaptations.

The first were in Belgium via TV animated shorts that were created in 1961-1967, a few of the shorts would be featured in the 1965 in the black-and-white animation “Les Adventures des Schtroumpfs” and then followed by a 1976 animation titled “La Flûte à six schtroumpfs” (The Smurfs and the Magic Flute) which would receive an English version that would inspire more full-length Smurf animated films.

But in America, where the Smurfs gained its popularity is through the 1981 animated TV series which was nominated many times for a Daytime Emmy Award and won the “Outstanding Children’s Entertainment Series” for 1982-1983. The animated series would broadcast on television through 1989.

In 1997, producer Jordan Kerner has been trying to get a “Smurfs” film created but it wasn’t until 2002 when Peyo’s heirs accepted Kerner’s offer and people were able to get their first look at the film via leaked footage on the Internet in 2008.

And in 2011, the first live-action/CG Smurf film of a planned trilogy was released in theaters in 2011. The film which was budgeted for $110 million received lackadaisical reviews from film critics but the film was popular among the younger viewers and earned over $559 million in the box office ensuring the film as a success for Columbia Pictures which would ensure a sequel.

In 2013, “Smurfs 2” would go on to earn over $374 million in the box office, making it another success.

But wanting to create a full 3D CG animated film, the film series was rebooted (now no longer featuring the live action portion), this film (unrelated to the previous two films) is directed by Kelly Asbury (“Shrek 2”, “Gnomeo & Juliet”) and co-written by Stacey Harman (“The Goldbergs”) and Pamela Ribon (“Moana”, “Samantha Who?”, “Bears”) and the film would go on to make $194.7 million in the box office.

And now “Smurfs: The Lost Village” will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD in July 2017.  The version I am reviewing is the 4K Ultra HD version which comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet Digital Code.

In this latest film, we are introduced to the story of Smurfette, the only girl in the Smurf Village and how she was created by the wicked wizard Gargamel from a lump of clay.  Despite being created for the purpose of evil (as he in search of the Smurf village to steal all of their essences to become the most powerful wizard in the world), she was given a chance by Papa Smurf and became part of the village.

One day, Brainy Smurf is creating an invention that can determine one’s energy.  As Hefty Smurf was tested, the invention showed that his energy was strength and Brainy was able to extract that into a liquid.  But when tested on Smurfette, because she isn’t a true Smurf, she drew in energy and so the invention didn’t work on her.

As Smurfette, Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy Smurf go out for some playtime, while flying out with a leaf, a gust of wind carries her to the Forbidden Forest where she crashes.  Smurfette sees a smurf watching her and it runs off past the wall leading to the Forbidden Forest.

But when Smurfette tells the three of what she saw, she is grabbed by Gargamel’s vulture, Monty back to his lair.

This leads Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy to go on a rescue mission to save Smurfette and when they get her out to go to the village, they want to tell Papa Smurf about her discovery.  But when Papa Smurf forbids them and punishes them for going out there, the four sneak out to search if there is a “LostVillage”of Smurfs aside from theirs.


VIDEO:

“Smurfs: Lost Village” receives its first 4K Ultra HD release and this latest animation is fantastic.  Presented in 2160p (1:85:1 aspect ratio), it’s a different style compared to the previous two films which tries to add skin texturing but for the most part, the animation is done very well with great hair physics and for the most part, it’s an animation style that is respectful to Peyo’s original work and also for those who remember the animated series.   Meanwhile, environments are well-rendered with amazing detail.  The picture quality of this film is fantastic!

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI 2.0A Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Audio quality is equally impressive. Presented in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Compatible), English – Audio Description Track, Catalan, Cantonese, Mandarin, Danish, Dutch (Netherlands), Finnish, French, German, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Vietnamese 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Considering that this animated film has a good number of action sequences, the lossless audio utilizes the surround channels.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear, while action sequences sound magnificent through the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Arabic, Cantonese, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Smurfs: The Lost village” on 4K Ultra HD comes with the following special features:

  • Emoji Sneak Peak – (2:04) A sneak peek for the upcoming “Emoji” film.
  • Filmmaker Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by director Kelly Asbury and Allan Hawkins (Animation Supervisor) and Brandon Jeffords (Head of Story).
  • Deleted Scenes – (7:35) Featuring four deleted scenes.
  • Kids at Heart! The Making of Smurfs: The Lost Village – (9:09) The making of “Smurfs: The Lost Village” and behind-the-scenes at Sony Pictures Animation.
  • The Lost Auditions – (4:07) Voice talents auditioning for other Smurf roles.
  • Demi Lovato Meets Smurfette – (:58) Smurfette interviews Demi Lovato.
  • Lost Village Dance Song  – (3:10) Featuring children dancing to the “Lost Village Dance Song”.
  • Smurfify Your Nails – (2:18) A featurette on how to smurfify nails.
  • Baker Smurf’s Mini Kitchen – (4:05)  A featurette featuring Baker Smurf narrating one preparing a baked dish.
  • Meghan Trainor “I’m a Lady Music Video”
  • Making the Song “You Will Always find Me In Your Heart” – (3:00) Christopher Lennertz discuss making the music for a certain scene.
  • The Sound of The Smurfs – (3:42) Kelly Asbury and Christopher Lennertz discuss the music for Smurfs: The Lost Village”.
  • Draw Your Favorite Smurfs – (7:40) How to draw various Smurf characters.
  • See More Smurfs! – (5:48) “Smurf” film trailers

EXTRAS:

“Smurfs: The Lost Village” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


Having grown up with watching “Smurfs” on television and reading the comics, and since 2011, it was cool to watch the films alongside my young son who pretty much grew up not with the animated films but the two previous films.

And he were are now in 2017, we have an animated film which will no doubt entertain families but I feel it’s a film that is much easier for me, as an adult to watch, versus watching Smurf and human collaborations onscreen.

Part of the entertaining factor of the original series is the adventures that the Smurfs are involved in and the various characters to work with.  While “Smurfs: The Lost Village” features primarily Smurfette, Brainy Smurf, Hefty Smurf and Clumsy Smurf, the film does a great job of incorporating other Smurfs but most importantly answers a question of what if there is a village of other Smurfs out there?

What if Smurfette wasn’t the only female Smurf around?

And sure enough, “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is quite fun to watch because we see another village but instead of all male, it’s all female.  And similar to Papa Smurf and his village of male smurfs, we see Mama Smurf and her village of female smurfs.  And needless to say, it makes for a fun, entertaining story.

As always, Gargamel is the primary antagonist.  Still trying to search for Smurfs to capture their essence in order to make him a powerful wizard.  Sure there is quite a bit of peril and rude humor (thanks to Gargamel) that raises the rating to PG but parents watching alongside their children need not worry at all.  It’s a great animated film that the entire family can enjoy!

As for the 4K Ultra HD presentation, animation is fantastic.  While much different compared to the previous two films, this time around, the animated film is much truer to Peyo’s work.  Especially for those who grew up watching the animated series.  Movements and hair physics to the way the characters move were well-animated and the detail of environments are full of detail.  In fact, this film looks absolutely vibrant in HD.

The lossless soundtrack is just as impressive.  Featuring crystal clear dialogue and music but also great use of the surround channels during the action sequences.  And last, there are a good number of special features included as well.

Overall, for those who enjoy the Smurfs and videophile/audiophile parents looking for an animated film that looks great in 4K Ultra HD, who also want to entertain their children or the entire family, you can’t go wrong with “Smurfs: The Lost Village”.  Recommended for the entire family!

 

Dick Tracy (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“Dick Tracy” is a stylish, unique film that pays amazing homage to the original 1930’s detective.  Featuring a wonderful cast, amazing set and costume design and music, “Dick Tracy” may not be known to the younger generations of movie viewers, but this is one iconic hero who received the best film adaptation thanks to director, producer and actor Warren Beatty, who successfully  paid homage to the comic-strip.  Whether or not we will ever see anything “Dick Tracy” related in the near future is unknown, but for those who are familiar with the iconic detective, will surely want to give this Blu-ray release a chance!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dick Tracy

FILM RELEASE: 1990

DURATION: 106 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish Language Tracks, Subtitles: Englis SDH, Spanish and French

COMPANY: Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: PG

Release Date: December 11, 2012

Directed by Warren Beatty

Characters by Chester Gould

Written by Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr.

Produced by Warren Beatty

Co-Producer: Jon Landau

Executive Producer: Art Linson, Floyd Mutrux, Barrie M. Osborne, Jim Van Wyck

Music by Danny Elfman

Cinematography by Vittorio Storaro

Edited by Richard Marks

Casting by Jackie Burch

Production Design by Richard Sylbert

Art Direction by Harold Michelson

Set Decoration by Rick Simpson

Costume Design by Milena Canonero

Starring:

Warren Beatty as Dick Tracy

Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice

Glenne Headly as Tess Trueheart

Madonna as Breathless Mahoney

Mandy Patinkin as 88 Keys

Paul Sorvino as Lips Manlis

Charlie Korsmo as Kid

Michel Donovan O’Donnell as McGillicuddy

Jim Wilkey as Stooge

Stig Eldred as Shoulders

Neil Summers as The Rodent

Chuck Hucks as The Brow

Lawrence Steven Myers as Little Face

William Forsythe as Flattop

Ed O’ Ross as Itchy

The comic strip detective (Beatty) finds his life vastly complicated when Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) makes advances towards him while he is trying to battle Big Boy Caprice’s (Pacino) united mob. Winner of three Academy Awards (1990), including Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Makeup and Best Music (Original Song for “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)”).

In 1931, Chester Gould’s “Dick Tracy” would be featured in the publications “Detroit Mirror” and distributed by the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate.  With its popularity, the comic strip would lead to a radio program that lasted from 1934 through 1948 and film adaptations in the 1930’s thanks to RKO.  By 1950-1951, a live action TV series was created and in the early ’60s, an animated series was created.

A story that revolves around a detective during the 1930’s in Chicago, Dick Tracy would catch his criminals using forensic science, high technology and intelligent wits, audiences were entertained by Dick Tracy’s ability to chase down the criminal.

But in 1990, the live action film was written and directed by Warren Beatty  (“Bonny & Clyde”, “Reds”, “Bulworth”) would be released in theaters.  But the journey to make the live action film was a concept that Beatty head since 1975.  But as the plans for a live action films went through different creative hands and different perspectives of what kind of film would be made.  But in the end, for Warren Beatty, he wanted the live action film to pay homage to the comic strip and not deviate from that.

And with Disney now having control of the film and working out a deal with Warren Beatty to write, direct and produce the film, “Dick Tracy” was officially made into a live action film.  The film would star Warren Beatty but also talent such as Al Pacino, Genne Headly, Madonna, Al Pacino, Kathy Bates, Mandy Patinkin and Paul Sorvino.

And would go on to earn over $162 million worldwide in the box office.

And over 20-years-later, “Dick Tracy” will be released on Blu-ray in Dec. 2012.

“Dick Tracy” begins with a group of mobsters playing an illegal card game, a young orphan named “The Kid” (portrayed by Charlie Korsmo) stumbles into a warehouse, watching the gangsters gamble.  But not long after, gangsters Flattop (portrayed by William Forsythe) and Itchy (portrayed by Ed O’Ross), who work for the mobster Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice (portrayed by Al Pacino), begin shooting and killing the mobsters.  And we learn that this aggression against other mobs is part of Big Boy’s scheme to grow his crime syndicate and rule the city.

Meanwhile, the Kid manages to steal a watch from a person, right next to famous detective Dick Tracy (portrayed by Warren Beatty) and his girlfriend, Tess Truehart (portrayed by Glenne Headly).  As Dick Tracy chases after the Kid, the Kid arrives home to his guardian, who roughs him up for not stealing anything that would bring them a lot of money. Dick Tracy shows up and beats up the aggressor and ends up treating the Kid out for some dinner with his girlfriend Tess.

As “Big Boy” Caprice continues his domination in the city by coercing Lips Manlis (portrayed by Paul Sorvino) into signing over the Club Ritz to them.  But instead of keeping him alive, they kill Lips by having him encased in cement and stealing his girlfriend and club singer, Breathless Mahoney (portrayed by Madonna).

With Lips Manlis now missing, this leads to Dick Tracy interrogating “Big Boy” Caprice’s employees….Flattop, Itchy and Mumbles (portrayed by Dustin Hoffman).  But as Breathless Mahoney is the only witness, she doesn’t turn Big Boy in and is more interested in trying to hook up with Dick Tracy.

Eventually, Dick Tracy takes in The Kid temporarily, gives him new clothes and feeds and houses him.  And even having The Kid having save him from time-to-time and being a sidekick.

But as Dick Tracy tries to find a way in putting these criminals behind bars, his life comes crashing down when Tess catches him kissing Breathless, the orphanage takes away “The Kid” and with “Big Boy” Caprice and his men starting trouble, there appears to be a mysterious person named “The Blank” also causing trouble.

Will Dick Tracy find a way to prove his innocence and finally put “Big Boy” Caprice and his men behind bars?

VIDEO:

“Dick Tracy” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1).  While the film does look very good on Blu-ray and does feature a new digital restoration, what makes this 1990 film look very good is its artistic direction.  Warren Beatty wanted only seven colors to be used in the film in order to capture the original look of the comic strip.  So, red, green, blue and yellow and a few other colors are utilized.  Add in colorful outfits which look amazing with one another, such as Dick Tracy’s yellow fedora and coat with the Kid’s red hat and coat, the film evokes a style similar to German Expressionism, especially how buildings and the city are featured throughout the film.  Set design is fantastic and the limited colors made the film look much more artistic and beautiful.

I didn’t notice any artifacts, I did notice slight banding but for the most part, picture quality was good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dick Tracy” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and French 5.1 Dolby Digital along with Spanish language tracks.   There are scenes with action and machine gun shots, but primarily the film is dialogue and music driven.  The film score by Danny Elfman evokes a similar musical style that he used with his previous film “Batman”.  So, while the musical score sounds great, as did Madonna’s music which features lyrics written by acclaimed songwriter Stephen Sondheim.  So, dialogue and music are crystal clear and sound great via lossless compared to its older DVD counterpart.  It’s important to note that “Dick Tracy” was the first film to use digital audio.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dick Tracy” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Dick Tracy” comes with a slipcover case and a code for the digital copy of the feature film.

I can easily remember “Dick Tracy” from my teenage years.  It was a film that was featured all over television because of the couple at the time, Warren Beatty and Madonna.  Plus, the major marketing that Disney put into the film.  Dick Tracy was all over television and while one side featured promotion for the film and its iconic character, there was a lot of promotion for Madonna starring in the film.

For the most part, “Dick Tracy” was a fascinating film back when I saw it.  I saw the film as a unique artistic expression for Warren Beatty, as he wanted to keep the homage of the comic strip in his live-action film.  It was also a film that would feature Hollwood heavyweights Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman and for me, it was a bonus treat to have my favorite film composer at the time, Danny Elfman, scoring the music for the film and legendary writer Stephen Sondheim collaborating with Madonna on the songs for “Dick Tracy”.

I enjoyed “Dick Tracy” because Warren Beatty was able to create world where the seedy underground and the characters that represent the crime infested area with a different look.  Humans were oddly shaped (ie. big heads or flat heads) or looked grotesque, among the criminals who looked like seedy criminals, there was a city that was featured with beautiful colors and its people sporting colorful outfits.  The limited colors made “Dick Tracy” look like art and so unique, I was quite pleased with set and costume design.

And because the world of “Dick Tracy” looked different that reality and is based on a ’30s comic strip, the film doesn’t look like it was created in 1990, nor does the picture quality on Blu-ray make this film looked aged.  Picture quality was very good and to hear the music in lossless was also a major plus for this Blu-ray release.

Personally, I felt that Warren Beatty did a remarkable job with “Dick Tracy”. It’s original in presentation and for its time, the use of limited colors really distinguishes the film from others.  If there was any fault, unfortunately it would be the perception of the audience of its time.  1930’s heroes are not easy to promote for modern viewers.   Sure, heroes such as “Superman” or “Batman” can continue to be strong thanks to its continuing push as comic books, animated series, video games and via merchandise.  But with “Dick Tracy”, “The Shadow” and even “The Green Hornet”, these are heroes that emerged from comic strips and radio series that ended with those strips/radio series.  They are no longer featured as comic book stores, animated series or in store merchandise that unfortunately, these classic heroes have been forgotten.

As I watched this film with my nine-year-old, he asked me questions of why Dick Tracy was popular since he had no special abilities.  And I would make the comparison to Sherlock Holmes, Dick Tracy was a wonderful detective.  But for children today, a hero in a film that saves people without special powers, is not too exciting for them.  While those of us who grew up earlier enough to have known about Dick Tracy, know how iconic that character was from the ’30s through the ’70s and once again, in the ’90s thanks to Warren Beatty.

But the biggest misconception that Disney of that era and Jeffrey Katzenberg had towards the film.  Katzenberg has reportedly said that they hoped that “Dick Tracy” would earn the same box office figures as “Batman”.  Batman is a superhero and people are attracted to iconic superheroes and even to this day, many of those films do extremely well in the box office.  But while “Dick Tracy” was profitable, part of Katzenberg’s disappointment was because the film was expensive to produce and market.

But the film did well as a VHS and DVD release and now, this film is finally getting an HD treatment on Blu-ray.  The film looks wonderful, the lossless soundtrack is way better than any previous home video release but unfortunately, there are no special features included.

So, while this Blu-ray release features the definitive version of “Dick Tracy” on home video, it’s also a barebones Blu-ray release which in this day and age, is unacceptable.  Not even the theatrical trailer is included.  With so much work in trying to make this film so unique, there must be a featurette out there that could have been included on this Blu-ray release!  So, while “Dick Tracy” is a pretty enjoyable film, this Blu-ray release is a bit of a let-down when it comes to the lack of special features.

Overall, “Dick Tracy” is a stylish, unique film that pays amazing homage to the original 1930’s detective.  Featuring a wonderful cast, amazing set and costume design and music, “Dick Tracy” may not be known to the younger generations of movie viewers, but this is one iconic hero who received the best film adaptation thanks to director, producer and actor Warren Beatty, who successfully  paid homage to the comic-strip.  Whether or not we will ever see anything “Dick Tracy” related in the near future is unknown, but for those who are familiar with the iconic detective, will surely want to give this Blu-ray release a chance!

SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

A magnificent tribute to the legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim!  To really enjoy the music of this wonderful occasion, I highly recommend this release on Blu-ray. The music sounds crystal clear, the audience applause and just everything about this release comes alive on Blu-ray! Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © MMX Ellen M. Krass Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert

DURATION: 116 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition (1:78:1), DTS-HD MA 5.1, Uncompressed PCM Stereo

COMPANY: Image Entertainment

RATED: N/A

Release Date: November 16, 2010

Produced, Directed for Stage and Television by Lonny Price

Written by Lonny Price, David Hyde Pierce

Produced by Ellen M. Krass, Mort Swinsky, Matt Cowart

Executive Producers: Stewart E. Lane, Bonnie Comley, Cathy Fitzpatrick

Choreographer: Josh Rhodes

Executive Director: Alan Adelman

Set Designer: James Noone

Hosted by David Hyde Pierce

Conducted by Paul Gemignani

Music by the New York Philharmonic

Starring:

Stephen Sondheim

David Hyde Pierce

Paul Gemignani

Laura Benanti

Matt Cavenaugh

Michael Cerveris,

Victoria Clark

Jenn Colella

Jason Danieley

Alexander Gemignani

Joanna Gelason

Nathan Gunn

George Hern

Patti Lupone

Marin Mazzie

Audra McDonald

John McMartin

Donna Murphy

Karen Olivo

Laura Osnes

Mandy Patinkin

Bernadette Peters

Bobby Steggert

Elaine Stritch

Jim Walton

Chip Zien

Yanira Marin

Shina Ann Morris

Angelina Mullins

Kat Nejat

Jennifer Sanchez

Tanairi Sade Vazquez

Maria Riccetto

Blaine Hoven

New York Philharmonic

Image Entertainment is proud to share a celebration of the life and wondrous work of one of Broadway’s greatest legends – the incomparable Stephen Sondheim.  For the master composer and lyricist’s 80th birthday, scores of the musical theater’s brightest stars gathered to perform more than two dozen sensational numbers from Sondheim’s unsurpassed canon.  Many of these enduring songs are rarely heard and several are performed by the original Broadway cast members. David Hyde Pierce hosts this magical event with Sondheim’s longtime collaborator Paul Gemignani conducting the New York Philharmonic.  Directed for the stage and television by Lonny Price and filmed live March 15–16, 2010 at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, this is a must-have addition for every musical theatre aficionado.


“Songs In All Languages”

http://www.totaleclips.com/player/Splash.aspx?custid=907&playerid=69&bitrateid=314&formatid=10&clipid=e80679&affiliateid=-1%22%3E%3C/iframe>

“America”

http://www.totaleclips.com/player/Splash.aspx?custid=907&playerid=69&bitrateid=314&formatid=10&clipid=e80676&affiliateid=-1%22%3E%3C/iframe>

“The Ladies Who Lunch”

http://www.totaleclips.com/player/Splash.aspx?custid=907&playerid=69&bitrateid=314&formatid=10&clipid=e80680&affiliateid=-1%22%3E%3C/iframe>

“Not A Day Goes By”

http://www.totaleclips.com/player/Splash.aspx?custid=907&playerid=69&bitrateid=314&formatid=10&clipid=e80678&affiliateid=-1%22%3E%3C/iframe>

“I’m Still Here”

http://www.totaleclips.com/player/Splash.aspx?custid=907&playerid=69&bitrateid=314&formatid=10&clipid=e80677&affiliateid=-1%22%3E%3C/iframe>

Stephen Sondheim is an American composer and lyrical legend.

In his oeuvre, he has won an Academy Award, multiple Tony Awards, Grammy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize.  He has composed and wrote lyrics for popular Broadway shows such as “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, “Company”, “Follies”, “A Little Night Music”, “Sweeney Todd”, “Sunday in the Park with George”, “Into the Woods” and most notably for writing the lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy”.

With a career of composing and writing lyrics for many Broadway hits, many of Broadway’s greatest legends and musical friends pay tribute to Stephen Sondheim for his 80th birthday.  On March 15-16, 2010, Lonny Price directed “SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert” which took place at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City and was hosted by David Hyde Pierce.

And now “SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert” will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download before its national television premiere on PBS’ “Great Performances” Series (which will air on Nov. 24th).

The tracklisting for this special performance are as follows:

  1. “America” (Dancers, West Side Story)
  2. “Something’s Coming” (Alexander Gemingnani, West Side Story)
  3. “We’re Gonna Be Alright” (Marin Mazzie, Jason Danieley, Do I Hear a Waltz?)
  4. “Don’t Laugh” (Victoria Clark, Hot Spot)
  5. “Johanna”(Nathan Gunn, Sweeney Todd)
  6. “You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow” and “Love Will See Us Through” (Matt Cavenaugh, Jenn Colella, Laura Osnes, Bobby Steggert, Follies)
  7. “Too Many Mornings” (Nathan Gunn, Audra McDonald, Follies)
  8. “The Road You Didn’t Take” (John McMartin, Follies)
  9. “It Takes Two” (Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, Into the Woods)
  10. “Growing Up” (Jim Walton, Merrily We Roll Along)
  11. “Finishing the Hat” (Mandy Patinkin, Sunday in the Park with George)
  12. “Move On” (Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Sunday in the Park with George)
  13. “Pretty Women” (Michael Cerveris, George Hearn, Sweeney Todd)
  14. “A Little Priest” (Michael Cerveris, George Hearn, Patti LuPone, Sweeney Todd)
  15. “Theme from ‘Reds’” with Pas De Deux (NY Philharmonic,  ABT Dancers Maria Riccetto and Blaine Hoven)
  16. “So Many People” (Laura Benanti, Saturday Night)
  17. “Beautiful Girls” (David Hyde Pierce)
  18. “Ladies Who Lunch” (Patti LuPone, Company)
  19. “Losing My Mind” (Marin Mazzie– Follies)
  20. “The Glamorous Life” (Audra McDonald, A Little Night Music)
  21. “Could I Leave You” (Donna Murphy, Follies)
  22. “Not a Day Goes By” (Bernadette Peters, Merrily We Roll Along)
  23. “I’m Still Here” (Elaine Stritch, Follies)
  24. “Sunday” (Broadway Chorus, Sunday in the Park with George)
  25. “Happy Birthday” (All Cast)

VIDEO:

“SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert” is presented in 1080i High-Definition Widescreen (1:78:1).  The picture quality is clear as it is shot via HD and there are a good amount of camera angles that capture the whole stage, the singers up close, behind the audience, a camera right at the audience and well-done editing that is not dizzying.  The set design for the entire production was very well-done. Very elegant!

Colors for the entire performance was absolutely vibrant, especially the red dresses by Dianne Von Furstenberg which literally pop in HD.  For a musical performance, lighting and colors were well-done and found no artifacting or any major problems with the video.

AUDIO:

Possibly the most noticeable of this Blu-ray release is how beautiful the lossless soundtrack is.  Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Uncompressed PCM Stereo,  everything vocally and musically is crystal clear.  From the music by the New York Philharmonic, the vocalists and even the audience applause which fills up your soundscape as the applause is heard through the surround channels.

I was very impressed by the lossless soundtrack and I’m a true believer that music via lossless comes alive in HD and in this case, on Blu-ray, the music for “SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert” sounds absolutely incredible.  If you have a receiver and a 5.1 system, especially a Blu-ray player, I highly recommend going for the Blu-ray edition over the DVD.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert”” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert”” comes with four page liner notes by writer and theatrical director Lonny Price.  Price writes about his adoration for Stephen Sondheim and working on this special birthday project.

    I am familiar with Stephen Sondheim’s music in film but not so much in the Broadway performances, so watching “SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert” on Blu-ray was actually quite incredible.

    The performances were absolutely wonderful and as mentioned, on Blu-ray, you get two lossless soundtrack that literally envelop your room with music and also making you feel like you are watching it live with the audience applause being heard all around you (courtesy of well-placed audience applause through the surround channels).

    But the performances were simply magnificent.  “A Little Priest” by Michael Cerveris, George Hearn and Patti LuPone was simply wonderful.  “Theme from ‘Reds'” was absolutely delightful, David Hyde Pierce’s performance of “Beautiful Girls” was simply humorous and well-sung and possibly my favorite performance of the night was watching Patti LuPone sing “Ladies Who Lunch”, Marin Mazzie performing “Losing My Mind”, Audra McDonald’s wonderful performance of “The Glamourous Life”, Donna Murphy’s humorous and magnificent performance of “Could I Leave You”, Bernadette Peters “Not a Day Goes By” and a fantastic performance by Elaine Stritch of “I’m Still Here”.

    But I have to admit that seeing all the talent of The Broadway Chorus coming together to perform “Sunday” literally brought a tear to my eye, especially for Stephen Sondheim as well.  What a wonderful, surprising performance!

    The entire concert is just magnificent and I truly enjoyed the performances.  I wish there was one more performance for “West Side Story” and “Saturday Night” but nevertheless the “Sweeney Todd” and “Follies” performances were enjoyable.

    If anything, every talent was on their top game that night and everyone performed very well.

    As for the Blu-ray release, I found the lossless soundtrack to be quite incredible.  The performance literally came alive via Blu-ray and for those with a 5.1 setup and a Blu-ray player will definitely want to get the Blu-ray version of this concert if you are in love with Stephen Sondheim’s music especially to hear them sung by the many Broadway greats who came to perform during those two nights.  If there was only one negative that I would have about this release was the lack of any special features.  But other than that, it’s a wonderful Blu-ray with beautiful, fun and enjoyable music.

    Overall, if you are a fan of Stephen Sondheim’s work or you loved the music from any his Broadway or theatrical works, “SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert” is a wonderful tribute and is highly recommended on Blu-ray!

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