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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Backstage
Backstage
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 10, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Although I can't say I'm that much of a hip-hop fan, I definitely respect some of these artists who are able to get up on stage and just rap - almost improvising songs that last a few minutes or more. Is "Backstage" the best way to present and document what makes hip-hop what it is? Not really. Taking viewers along for the 1999 Hard Knock Life tour with Jay Z, DMX, Method Man and more, "Backstage" is a bit too heavily edited, coming in at only 88 minutes.

At that length, it has to mix in behind-the-scenes, interview and concert footage and the result is that unfortunately, the concert performances don't play out fully - either it stops mid-way for an interview or has interview audio over some of the performance. The interviews don't provide much in the way of insight, but there's an occasional amusing moment as an interview asks what kind of movies that the rappers watch - and one answers, "we just watched 'Good Will Hunting'."

The music? We really don't find out that much about it. "Backstage" simply seems more about providing behind-the-scenes footage of the rappers' behavior as they smoke and and run across several waves of groupies. Occasionally, we get a tidbit or two about what makes rap what it is, but these instances are fairly few and far between. The performers mainly seem exhausted from life on the road.

Hip-hop is a multi-million dollar industry that is certainly worthy of a documentary, but "Backstage" really goes half-way; it shows us some of the backstage goofing around, but it really doesn't tell us that much about the history of the music.


The DVD

VIDEO: Dissapointingly, "Backstage" was presented in 1.85:1 in theaters and instead of having that be brought over to DVD, we instead get a full-frame presentation. Where this presentation is still pretty enjoyable and certainly watchable, it would have been better if Miramax could have given this an anamorphic presentation. Anyways, the picture varies quite a bit throughout the movie - sharpness during the concert and interview footage remains fairly sharp, but behind-the-scenes or backstage footage remains soft and sometimes a bit grainy looking.

Aside from the slightly grainy look at times, there's not that much to complaint about with the image. The picture generally remains crisp, without any sort of pixelation or shimmering. The picture also remains free of any sort of print flaws such as marks or scratches. Colors seem natural during the backstage footage, but with the stage lighting, the concert seems look more vibrant and bold. A decent transfer, but it's unfortunate that it's in full-frame instead of widescreen.

SOUND: "Backstage" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and it pretty much provides "documentary-style" audio, with the interviews and backstage footage coming from the front. It's only when the music becomes more involved in the presentation that the audio opens up a little more - the concert footage has the surrounds offering some of the music, and bass is strong and deep during these sequences. Dialogue in the interview and backstage footage remains easily understood, but a little rough-sounding at times.

MENUS:: Menus are non-animated, with very basic images serving as backgrounds. It'd be nice if the music played in the background of the menu.

EXTRAS: The trailer. That's it, that's all.

Final Thoughts:

Positive: Decent sound for the concert segments.

Negative: The full-frame presentation is ok, but not great. Nothing in the way of extras and the film itself doesn't provide much in the way of insights about hip-hop.

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