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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Cher - The Farewell Tour
Cher - The Farewell Tour
Image // Unrated // August 26, 2003
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted September 28, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
If there's one thing you can say for Cher it's that she's always known her audience. Not one to strive for artistic merit, she figures out what's selling and to whom and aims directly for the target. Considering that she's been a huge pop star for forty years (incredible!) she must know her stuff. Her recent "Farewell" tour got a good deal of publicity but probably more for the numerous costume changes than for the tunes.

The DVD of the show, taken from her Miami show (of course) features a mix of old, older and recent hits from the wildly diverse Cher catalog, including songs like "If I Could Turn Back Time," "I Found Someone," "Half-Breed," "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," and the inescapable "Believe." Cher's wardrobe lives up to the legend: She seems to change every couple of songs, and her collection of bejeweled head-dresses, wigs and boots is out of control.

The Cher fan will undoubtedly enjoy this concert but to the unconvinced there isn't really anything here to cause a conversion. Cher appears to be lip syncing most of the time and her stage presence is a bit muted. (She's usually surrounded by a gaggle of dancers and aerial acrobats.) A couple of segments are a bit embarrassing (The "Gayatri Mantra" is pretentious, the Sonny and Cher tribute is just a video collage and not actual performance) and the show's running time is uselessly short for an artist with such a long career. Forty years in ninety minutes? I know Cher is approaching retirement age but there's no reason to cut things so short.

The musicians are anonymous sounding (it's a bit like elevator music; professional but soulless) and the audience is just silly, evenly split between soccer moms on big girls' night out and aging Chelsea boys getting their diva on. Cher's opportunistic genre-jumping has left her catalog sounding totally random and her concert a mess. There's no dramatic progression to the sequence of songs. They just sound slapped together.

And as a performer she has fun moments (most are relegated to the extras section) but mostly she's stilted. Her face is frozen in an overly plastic grimace and her voice is a strange, deep warble that lacks the punch needed to pull off more complex emotions. Her songs are tailored to her sounds but one listen to her version of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" reveals a lack of the grit and emotion that Bono nailed in the original.

VIDEO:
The anamorphic video is excellent, with little compression visible and rich colors and sharp images. This is a pro production.

AUDIO:
The audio is available in DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DD 2.0. The DTS and Dolby Digital tracks are impressive for their clarity and dynamic feel. This is a very well produced disc and the audio sounds slick. The 2.0 track is dull by comparison, of course, but is still listenable.

EXTRAS:
The extras are actually as entertaining as the feature (if not moreso.) The best, for my taste, are a couple of short monologs snipped from the show. Cher seems much looser and more off-the-cuff in these clips, where she challenges Britney and J.Lo to "follow this [show], you bitches!" and talks about the strange phenomenon of drag queens with beards. She's actually really funny and it's a shame that more of this sense of humor wasn't incorporated into the main program.

Three additional songs from the show ("Save Up All Your Tears," "We All Sleep Alone" and "A Different Kind of Love Song") are included (although why they weren't added into the main program is beyond me) as is a weird recut of the legendary Navy ship video for "If I Could Turn Back Time" (presumably as a tribute to the troops.)

A behind-the-scenes documentary details the complex series of wardrobe and technical jobs that go into putting on a Cher show as well as some of the diva's preparations.

A slide-show of costume designs is included.

But perhaps the weirdest extra on the disc (and maybe of the year) is something called "Cher's Special Version of West Side Story," which is basically Cher playing every role in the legendary musical. It seems like a Saturday Night Live skit at first but honestly, after about five hours of it I had no idea what I was watching. It needs to be seen to be believed.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Obviously being a huge Cher fan makes this disc a lot more attractive but for the few out there who aren't Diva-obsessed, this disc may be less than interesting. Still, I have to give Cher credit for being savvy and at times quite entertaining. The disc smartly includes some extras that show her more mischievous side and that helped me like her a little better.

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