The sexy, star-studded musical tale of murder and jazz that took home six little gold men last March is now available to the masses on DVD. “Chicago” defines the modern movie musical with its rich tones and unique splicing of “real life” and musical numbers. Director Rob Marshall seeks to tell the classic musical satire through the eyes of Roxie Hart (Rene Zellweger), a wannabe vaudeville star arrested for murdering her lover. Luckily, murder is a form of entertainment in Chicago, leading Roxie to stardom with the help of a corrupt jail warden (Queen Latifah) and an undefeated lawyer (Richard Gere).
Crisp widescreen presentation and DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound allow viewers to dive into intense screen adaptations of stage musical sequences. This quality picture and sound is a necessity for such a film which often seems better in the theater.
While the film itself is seemingly flawless, the menu provided on this disc is mediocre and awkward, as the background music stops every 30 seconds and then restarts. One would expect a seamless montage of songs on a menu for a musical film.
The disc includes a behind-the-scenes special containing interviews with the actors, director, production designer, costume designer and other important contributors to the film. Much of the documentary is redundant, showing long scenes from the movie as cast members retell the story. Short clips of dance practice and filming are reminiscent of “Making the Video” as the camera rolls and actors dance and sing to songs over a loud speaker. The documentary actually concludes with a music video for “All that Jazz,” once again promoting the movie while leaving many insider questions unanswered.
For those interested in more detail, the audio commentary by director Rob Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condon is more extensive. The men discuss their vision for the film and the intricacies of adaptation for the screen. However, the low tones of their voices are often difficult to hear and can make the viewer drowsy as the dialogue wears on for the full 113 minutes of the film.
Finally, a deleted musical number with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah entitled “Class” is included with optional audio commentary by the director and screenwriter again. The number is worth watching, but the only one of its kind. For audiences longing to get inside the world of “Chicago” this disc only pulls back the curtain for a quick peak. By leaving out other deleted scenes, bloopers and more in-depth behind-the-scenes coverage, the DVD does not do justice to the award-winning film it presents.