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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Pop > Soul > Rock > Musical > Showtunes > Fantasy > Fairytales > Country > Daryl Hall & John Oates: Live In Dublin (2014/Eagle Blu-ray)/Into The Woods (2014/Disney Blu-ray)/Shania: Still The One - Live From Las Vegas (2015/Eagle Blu-ray)

Daryl Hall & John Oates: Live In Dublin (2014/Eagle Blu-ray)/Into The Woods (2014/Disney Blu-ray)/Shania: Still The One - Live From Las Vegas (2015/Eagle Blu-ray)

Picture: B/B/B- Sound: B+/B/B Extras: C+/B/C+ Main Programs: B/B-/C+

Now for some new music releases...

Daryl Hall & John Oates: Live In Dublin (2014) has the most successful duo in music history (passing the great Everly Brothers by the early 1980s) as popular as ever, playing their first-ever show in Ireland... ever! It's just one of those things, but turns out they are hugely popular there too and have changed some members of their great band (as featured in the Live From The Troubadour show a few years ago) to now include no less than three members of the great Scottish group Average White Band, old friends from their days at Atlantic Records where both acts found their first successes and by the great people at that company including the late great super-producer Arif Mardin.

Finding yet more new ways to deliver their classic hits, the duo is in great form here delivering 15 classics that pull more from their Atlantic days than any of the other many shows I have seen of their issued on home video over the decades. 1980s hits Like Private Eyes, Maneater, Kiss On My List, I Can't Go For That (No Can Do), Out Of Touch, Say It Isn't So, Family Man and You Make My Dreams are joined by older his Sara Smile, She's Gone, Back Together Again, Do What You Want Be What You Are and rarities It's Uncanny and Las Vegas Turnaround. Not in that order, but very, very well done and played. Now, they join Yes, Heart, Elton John, The Moody Blues, Jeff Beck and Paul McCartney for best concerts on Blu-ray. This one is worth going out of your way for.

Extras include two interview segments with the duo and an illustrated booklet on the show.

Rob Marshall's Into The Woods (2014) is the feature film version of the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine stage musical that became another star vehicle for the great Bernadette Peters (see the monophonic Blu-ray of that upscaled show reviewed elsewhere on this site; the disc was reissued in its original stereo, a copy guaranteed if you get Image's 6-title Stephen Sondheim Collection Blu-ray set), now from the director of Chicago coming up with a decent, if not great, feature film version of the work. The clever extrapolation of Grimm's Fairytales with its irony and intelligence. Some adjustments had to be made for the big screen, but a little intimacy is lost in the transition and translation.

However, this is a bit better than expected, if not a knockout home run and part of it comes from its cast including Meryl Streep (too obvious a choice, she was Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actress, but this is still playing it safe), James Corden, Emily Blunt, Tracy Ullman, Anna Kendrick, a surprising Chris Pine, Johnny Depp, Tammy Blanchard, Billy Magnussen and Frances de la Tour. They gel better than expected, keeping this moving, even when it hits some mixed patches. The worst is too many scenes ending with instruments over-dramatically going 'boom' over and over again. Too many chapter stops are separated by this too; a big mistake.

To its credit, it never becomes proto-Disney product and is never sold out as such, i.e., just another live action blockbuster (like the upcoming Cinderella) falling back on their child and fantasy catalog, but this never breaks out and shows the full edge it might have in the tradition off past Sondheim works. For this, if you like musicals, it is definitely worth a look.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a feature length audio commentary track with Marshall, Streep singing an unused original song by Sondheim called 'She'll Be Back' with a Marshall intro, Music & Lyrics piece that lets you go to your favorite song, a 4-part Making Of featurette and Behind The Scenes short The Cast As Good As Gold.

Shania: Still The One - Live From Las Vegas (2015) has the hugely successful and popular Country vocalist doing her 25-song, elaborate Vegas stage show. She is likable enough, but you can hear her struggling to perform her songs (addressed in the featurette included) and (as per Vegas) the shows is gaudy and a bit overproduced to the point it gets in the way of the music and becomes a bit listless when it needed more energy. It also becomes too campy with its dancers and the show, but this is also really great towards fans... maybe too much. I don't think it is the best into to Miss Twain, but it is one of the highest-fidelity representations of her work for now.

Extras include an illustrated booklet on the show and a Backstage Pass featurette on how Twain prepared for the series of shows, including dealing with voice and throat issues.

All three productions are HD shoots and look about as good as expected. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Oates is not as colorful as the Troubadour Blu-ray (unreviewed), but has a little less motion blur though it is a bit darker a shoot, while Shania has more motion blur (not counting the videoscreen presentations) and can be a little trying to watch at times. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Woods is a little dark, but consistently decent from an Arri Alexa XT HD camera (et al), which uses few CGI digital visual effects to its credit. Director of Photography Dion Beebe, A.C.S., A.S.C. (Chicago, Collateral, Equilibrium) is as good as any of his work to date and usually uses the very widescreen frame to its fullest extent. Of course, it has the most money in it of the three releases here.

As for sound, all three offer lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) mixes, with Woods offering a 7.1 mix and the two concerts 5.1 lossless mixes. Woods should be the outright sonic winner here, but to my surprise, sound is coming from the front speaker too often as if this were a mixdown, so not only can both concerts compete sonically, but Oates is actually the winner here with the best sound I have heard the duo in (including the decent Dolby TrueHD 5.1 on Troubadour and and DSD 2.0 Stereo on the limited edition Mobile Fidelity Super Audio CDs of the duo's classic albums Voices, Private Eyes and H20) so be ready to be impressed with that one!

- Nicholas Sheffo


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