Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: MGM & Lakeshore Entertainment
Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Size: 50 GB
Case: Standard Blu-ray Case
Release date: January 12th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Video codec: AVC @ 28 Mbps
English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1; DUB: Spanish & French Dolby
English SDH & Spanish
• Theatrical & Extended Cuts
• Deleted Scenes – (18:11)
• Fame Music Video – (3:29)
• Remember My Name: Actor & Character Profiles - (17:14)
• Fame National Talent Search Finalist – (6:49)
• The Dances of Fame – (6:52)
• Disc Two: Digital Copy
In the contemporary remake of the 1980 fan-favorite, Fame
2009 follows a crew of dancers, singers, actors and artists
over four years at a stand-in for the New York City High
School of Performing Arts, which offers students from all
walks of life a chance to live out their dreams for real and
lasting fame...the kind that comes only from talent,
dedication, and hard work.
Naturi Naughton (Notorious) leads the cast of
newcomers including Asher Book, Kristy Flores, Paul Iacono,
Paul McGill, Kay Panabaker, Kherington Payne, Collins Pennie,
Walter Perez and Anna Maria Perez de Tagle. The film also
includes appearances by original Fame cast member Debbie
Allen as Principal Angela Simms, along with veterans Charles
S. Dutton, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, and Bebe Neuwirth.
Fame is the feature film directorial debut from music video
auteur and choreographer Kevin Tancharoen, known for his
work for Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera
and Michael Jackson. So it might be something of a surprise
that the choreography for this movie fell to Marguerite
Derricks, a three-time Emmy winner.
Considering that the remake endures much the same plot and
most of the same set pieces as Alan Parker's 1980 movie, but
with a modern beat and dance moves, it might come as
something of a surprise that the first movie was rated "R"
and the new one "PG", not even "PG-13" mind you. Back in
1980 an "R" rating didn't necessarily come with the same
level of "adult" content as today's movies, nor was "PG-13"
an option (that distinction came in 1984); all the same, the
new movie, which probably deserved a "PG-13" rating (for its
abundance of vulgar language) struck me as curiously watered
down and hopelessly clichéd. However, this makes sense if we
consider that the target audience for the remake isn't so
much the same as for the Step Up movies, despite its
off-the-shelf hip-hop soundtrack, as it is for graduates of
the Disney channel. Even though the fleshing out of what
passes for character is more extensive as compared to the
original movie, I couldn't shake the feeling that these
particular kids should set their sights for an audition on
captures were taken directly from the
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.
Production numbers aglow with vigorous splashes of color and
light alternate with staid brownish yellow-filtered scenes
at the school. The filtration tends to wash out the contrast
a bit, but this is likely intentional. The source print is
flawless and there appear to be no digital transfer issues
of concern. There's a slight tendency to black crush, but
all in all, the Blu-ray represents the film quite well.
CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio & Music:
The image is good, but the audio design is even better. The
scene at break time where every hopeful performer does his
or her thing, first subdued, then in strength, is telling.
It matters not how many artists are at work, everyone is
given their share of the soundstage in the correct place and
size. With all the hip-hop front and center and underscoring
events here and throughout the film, there is every
opportunity to overwhelm us with fat bass – but not so. The
bass is both propulsive and tuneful. The entire frequency
spectrum at all times is given a sensible, yet dramatically
compelling balance. Dialogue and singing vocals are clear,
crisp and properly placed.
Hidden menu details again. Boring! In addition to the usual
Play, Set-Up and Extras buttons on the main menu page is one
titled "Search." "Scenes" or "Chapters" is not good enough –
now we have to re-invent the wheel. The scene selector
doesn't show all of them at once so you still have to guess
or search one at a time for what you are looking for. But
the most annoying thing about the layout for this disc
occurs in the extra features segment titled "Remember My
Name" in which the MGM logo and "Remember My Name" theme
music is heard at the start of each one its eleven
biographies. Nor does the Play All feature bypass them. It's
enough to make you retch.
In the only Extra Feature worth the name, any doubt that the
remake is targeted for those kids who have recently moved on
from High School Musical is dispelled as we watch "Remember
My Name" which plays like a series of fan club video blogs:
Each of ten actors (plus the director), in what is for most
of them their first movie, talk about where they were born
and raised, where they studied and got their first break,
then segue into a comparison with their characters. It's all
so rehearsed and contrived. Confidence exudes from every
pore. I'm jealous, of course, but I'm also terrified by how
fame is marketed. One of the actors in her introduction to
herself says: "My name is so-and-so and I star in Fame."
"Star"! I ask – in a ten actor ensemble piece shared with
four veteran actors. I don't think so.
At first I thought: why remake a classic? But then Fame"
isn't "Gone With the Wind." On the contrary. Fame is
something of an ideal vehicle to introduce new talent in new
arrangements – like a Broadway revival. What is done with
this particular revival isn't really bad. At its worst the
remake is tediously pretentious. But it's a not unsuccessful
first effort for all concerned. I don't think some of the
kids are as talented as they think they are, but they do
give it their all. The high def image is pretty good and the
audio mix is demo-worthy.
January 16th, 2010