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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Madonna: Drowned World Tour 2001
Madonna: Drowned World Tour 2001
Warner Bros. // R // November 13, 2001
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted November 19, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Movie:

I'm one of those people who generally regard music as a buffet. While I certainly have things that I stick to such as ska, punk, pop and electronic, I generally like to walk down the table and sample what some other genres have to offer. Since I've started to review DVD-Audio titles and DTS CD titles, these have also opened doors to new genres of music that I've not previously enjoyed, but now seek out.

As for Madonna, I'd consider her music one of those things that I've sampled and like, but I don't actively seek out her new albums (although I must say that I like this latest techno-ish edition of Madonna). While I can't say that I've been a major fan of her music, I find that I have a great respect for her as an artist who's crafted some of the biggest pop hits of the '80's and '90's, continuing to adjust remarkably well to the often-changing landscape of pop music and doing so in such a fashion that remains utterly seamless.

She also puts on one hell of a show, if this DVD presentation is any indication. While the price of concert tickets has seemed to go up in the past few years, I rarely find many shows worth going out of the way to go to. Many DVD presentations of concerts now offer a somewhat less exciting, but also a lot cheaper way to experience some of these artists live. Yet, watching a toned Madonna (who seems to only look better with each passing year - and she's now, suprisingly, 43) strut her stuff across stages with different themes (even one "act" resembling "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") was fun, but I could only wonder how many times more exciting and sensory the live show itself must have been.

As she's somehow found a way to keep up with changing trends in pop music, Madonna seems to actually want to get ahead of the pack when it comes to the live experience, adding more theatrical elements and effects, while still performing her music with intensity. Many fans were reportedly irritated with the fact that many of the singer's old hits were not brought out this time around, I'm not sure if some of the bouncy gems of the 80's would quite fit in the midst of this slick and modern experience.Apparently, Madonna wants to focus on her current style and, at least for the moment, leave those past gems behind.

Also, I believe this is the first concert release that I've seen that's rated R.

• Drowned World/Substitute for Love
• Impressive Instant
• Candy Perfume Girl
• Beautiful Stranger
• Ray of Light
• Paradise (But Not for Me)
• Frozen : "Open Your Heart" Swell
• Nobody's Perfect
• Mer Girl (Part 1)
• Sky Fits Heaven
• Mer Girl (Part 2)
• I Deserve It
• Don't Tell Me
• Human Nature
• The Funny Song
• Secret
• Gone
• Don't Cry for Me Argentina (Instrumental)
• Lo Que Siente la Mujer (What It Feels Like for a Girl)
• La Isla Bonita
• Holiday
• Music


The DVD

VIDEO: "Drowned World Tour" is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame by Warner Music. While not completely awful and certainly not unwatchable, I was suprised that the image quality did not live up to my expectations. Given the kind of presentations that other concert releases are given in the image quality department lately (witness the stunningly crisp new "Bruce Springsteen: Live in New York" presentation), I'd expected better than what I found here. Sharpness and detail vary throughout the show - brighter moments looked crisp and nicely defined; strangely, there were also moments where sharpness was lacking and the picture could look somewhat hazy. Some low-light moments could also appear rather undefined.

A few slight instances of pixelation were apparent, but only briefly and they caused little distraction, if any. Edge enhancement was also absent and colors generally looked attractive for the most part. There were a few places here and there where they seemed almost a bit smeared, but not to any major extent. Again, I certainly didn't find this unwatchable or too dismaying, but I'd expect a more consistent and well-defined image from a release like this one.

SOUND: While the picture quality was rather dissapointing, the audio quality captures all of the energy of this superb concert. What also pleased me greatly was an unexpected addition to the DVD - DTS 5.1 sound, as the packaging does not make any mention whatsoever of the inclusion of DTS. The entire listening space often came alive in entertaining fashion, as the more lively numbers really had all the speakers working overtime.

Surrounds were very nicely used throughout the entire performance, adding either subtle touches of ambience and reinforcement to the quieter moments or more full-force music and sounds to the more uptempo songs. On occasion some electronic sounds came from the rears, but this managed to add to the experience and not sound gimmicky or artificial. While crowd noise and general ambient sounds weren't that noticable very often, there were times when they really added to that "wide open" sound of being at a stadium show, such as when the crowd really starts up before "Music".

As for Madonna's vocals, they came through from the front speakers with impressive clarity, sounding convincingly natural and warm, with that nice "in the same room" quality. Instruments also sounded stellar throughout the show, coming across distinctly and clearly, never finding themselves overshadowed by another element.

As for bass, the program often provided strong helpings of it. Although low-bass was not consistently apparent throughout the show, many songs benefited nicely from the rich rumble, such as "Human Nature". Overall, this program offered a really stellar audio experience - easily one of the most enjoyable I've had the pleasure of listening to lately. Those who couldn't catch the show will definitely be pleased with the experience of watching the DVD's exceptional surround sound. Both the Dolby Digital and DTS presentations sounded extremely good, although the DTS track did seem to add a very slight degree of richness in comparison to the Dolby Digital track. Watch out, as the default track is only 2.0 - make sure to choose either of the 5.1 offerings from the menu before starting, as the audio can not be switched via the remote.

MENUS:: Nicely animated menus - nothing remarkable, but the subtle animation on the main and sub-menus is a nice touch.

EXTRAS:: Photo gallery & weblink.

Final Thoughts: A wonderful show from Madonna and I can only imagine what it was like to actually be there. As for the DVD, it offers outstanding audio quality, but only so-so image quality. Still, it's a terrific show and the DVD still certainly gets a recommendation. Hopefully, Warner Music will continue to add DTS as an option to future DVD releases and consider releasing some of Madonna's recent albums to the DVD-Audio format, as well.

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