L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

 

Introduction: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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The Cheetah Girls – One World (Extended Music Edition) [Blu-ray]

 

(Paul Hoen, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: The Disney Channel

Blu-ray: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 88 minu

Chapters: 16

Size:

Case: Standard Blu-ray case w/slipcover

Release date: December 16, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC

 

Audio:

English 5.1 Uncompressed (48kHz/16-bit). English & Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Subtitles:

EEnglish SDH & Spanish

 

Extras:

• Cheetah Spots: watch the movie with pop-up trivia

• Exclusive Music Sequence featuring Feels Like Love

• Rock-Along mode: sing along with your favorite songs

• 3 Music Videos (11:10)

• Bloopers

• Glitter Temporary Tattoos

 

 

The Film: 4
The Cheetah Girls: One World is the second sequel to the Disney Channel's 2003 hit TV movie. It's the first without Raven Symoné (sadly, many say) and it kicked off a ten week tour that began in October. Based on a series of books by Deborah Gregory, the movies are an excuse for the girls (Chanel: Adrienne Bailon, 25; Aqua: Kiely Williams, 22; and Dorinda: Sabrina Bryan, 24) to sing (though not really) and dance (more like an aerobics workout) and parade around in young fashions (as if born to the purple.) The first sequel was set in Spain, the new movie in India: Mumbai, no less. So the movie is interesting at least as an exercise in geography in the context of current events, though there isn't the slightest hint of politics or racial or cultural concerns anywhere – thus the title, I'm guessing.

The question for the Cheetahs is whether they can manage their various competing dreams of school, boys, and stardom, let alone realize them. As our story opens here in the U.S., the Cheetahs, who haven't scored a gig after scores of auditions, are presented with the chance of a lifetime: to star in a Bollywood movie – that's Bollywood, not Hollywood, a mistake Chanel mistakes right off. But once they get their hearts and minds on the same page, the girls are off to India and the "movie-making capital of the world."

Once there, however, they learn that the producer of the movie, who also happens to be the director's uncle, has budgeted for only one star, not a trio. The director desperately seeks a way to persuade his uncle to consider all of them (though no one ever thinks to ask if the girls would be willing to divide their salary between them). As the movie unfolds, Chanel and Vikram the director (Michael Steger) start to hit it off; Rahim, the Indian star of the movie (Rupak Ginn) obsesses about his crush on Gita, the choreographer (Deepti Daryanani); Aqua hooks up with her computer phone tech who, in one of the movie's few adult gags, happens to be Indian (Kunal Sharma); and Dorinda continues to not answer her phone, knowing it's the Spaniard she connected with in the previous movie.

The Cheetah Girls are madly popular with kids between 6-14, which is a considerable buying market - but, except for they're being attractive and moderately talented, I can't see as how there is much to the Cheetah movies that would interest anyone much older. I have to say that as a concerned citizen and adult, I object to the "attitude" these girls project as American ambassadors. It's no wonder that kids grow up with the kind of entitled, me-first, making-it at all costs attitude many seem to have if an influential entity such as Disney underwrites it. If I were a parent to young children, I'd be watching these movies with my children just to try to filter some of what I consider bad role modeling

As for the movie, even though the setting here is Bollywoood, I found little that captures the true Bollywoood flavor – rather the Cheetahs imposed their aggressive, sassy style on the Indians, which struck me as an opportunity missed. Unintentionally, there is one thing this movie does have in common with typical Bollywood musicals: no one is actually singing – or at least they don't appear to be. I see lips move, but they aren't making the physical condescension that is required for singing. Unhappily, the lip-syncing is none to good. I've attended Indian Superstar concerts close-up, and was astonished to learn that no one on stage is singing either: every song is prerecorded, and all that the performers do is lip sync and dance about – that they can do. But the thing that really bowled me over was that the audience was in on this charade. No one really believed they were singing, nor were the people on stage the ones on the recordings. I was told that the intent was an integration of perfection. It was like Singin' in the Rain meets Brave New World.
 


 

Image: 8/8
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

The image is as lush, vivid and warm-toned as a Coppertone commercial, and just as squeaky clean. There is a quiet haze over the image that wouldn't begin to remotely interfere with the movie's enjoyment by the target audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 5/4
Despite its uncompressed audio track, the mix is surprisingly flat and front-and-center-directed, even in the big musical numbers. My biggest problem with the music, besides that so little of the material was fresh is that all the girls sound so nearly alike. It's not just a question of style, though that's a big part of it, it's that the audio processing insists on their being indistinguishable, which for me was just another contributing factor to my boredom.

 

 

 

Operations: 9
The menu is simple and self-guiding. Even an adult could make sense of it. Most of the windows have brief summaries of the content, including length.

 

Extras: 4
There are the usual bloopers, which will have the target audience giggling, I'm so very sure, and three "Music Videos" of "One World," "Cheetah Love" and "Dance With Me" that are almost indistinguishable from the analogous content of the movie. There is also a pop-up trivia feature that can be activated from the bonus features page.

 

 

Bottom line: 5/3
The movie is more or less harmless, but decidedly unoriginal and remarkably unaffected by Bollywood. The script has a few plotholes that I imagine wouldn't get past the average kid, though I still can't fathom the popularity of this group considering how undistinguished they are – as, say, compared to Miley Cyrus or any of the stars from HSM. For us fuddy-duddies, it was nice to see Roshan Seth as the uncle (Seth was in A Passage to India, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and played Pandit Nehru in Gandhi.) The locations are stunning and look great on this otherwise unrecommendable Blu-ray.

Leonard Norwitz
December 20th, 2008

 

 

 

 

 


 

 





 

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