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Motley Crue: Carnival of Sins
2005 was a banner year for Motley Crue fans. The original line up had just recorded their latest album, Red, White And Crue and were hitting the road for the first time in over half a decade. If that weren't a big deal in and of itself, the band launched one of their most elaborate stage shows ever... The Carnival Of Sin, a bizarre mix of burlesque dancers, circus acts, and pyrotechnics.
Director Hamish Hamilton, accompanied by Grammy Award winner Jon Harris, brought a crew of twenty high-definition cameras to one of the Crue's tour stops and recorded it all only to later have it mixed by none other than Bob Rock and Mike Gillies. The results? Well, they're pretty goofy, to be honest.
Before the concert starts, we're treated to a five minute intro where a claymation version of the band rambles about an Armageddon style crisis that really has nothing to do with the concert. From there, we head inside the arena where an evil clown emerges on stage with a couple of burlesque dancers to introduce the band. When the Crue finally does make it to the stage, they launch into a pretty solid version of their classic, Shout At The Devil, much to the approval of the audience, the majority of whom shoot the horns in appreciation. They burn through a few more classics, like Too Fast For Love, Too Young To Fall In Love, Looks That Kill, Girls, Girls Girls and Wild Side before slowing things down with for Without You and Home Sweet Home. During the later track, the whole place lights thanks to the lighters of those in the audience, and a wave of eighties arena rock nostalgia will come rushing back to anyone old enough to have experienced it. The ballads out of the way with, they head back to some heavier tracks like Dr. Feelgood and the poppy Same Ol' Situation, closing with a long version of Kickstart My Heart. Of course, they have to come back for an encore, but when that encore involves their mediocre cover of The Beatles' Helter Skelter and an ultra crappy version of the Sex Pistols' Anarchy In The UK maybe it would have been best if they hadn't.
The band themselves, looking a little older but not at all any wiser, are in fine form here. Vince Neil may have gained a few pounds but he can still sing and Tommy Lee, clad in Kabuki make up, still has an insane amount of energy behind the kit. Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars are still strange looking dudes but they've got some honest chemistry on stage. These guys have been at this a long time and their experience shows. The Crue knows how to put on a show and say what you will about them, they do entertain their audience. The crowd goes nuts between each and ever song, with the ladies baring their breasts when Tommy gets a hold of a video camera and the guys in attendance happy to help out in that regard as well.
The stage show is impressive as well. A little person named Mighty Mike appears a few times to add some bizarre comic relief. A few burlesque dancers prance around on stage and bump and grind with Vince as he sings away, adding some sex appeal to the whole production. Pyrotechnics are used a few times and the colored lights bathe the stage in circus-like colors that are very appropriate given the theme of the show.
In the end, it's all one big hokey cliché after another but you wouldn't expect any less from Motley Crue, would you? All the decadence, bad wardrobe, goofy stage banter and showboating are part of the package and this show doesn't sell you short in that regard. Corny it may be, but it's hard not to have some fun with this release.The DVD
The 1.78.1 anamorphic 1080i VC-1 high definition transfer is a mixed bag. So much of the concert has been tinkered with in post production that it doesn't even look like a live show half the time. The audience is bathed in red and blue light and old 'film' effects have been added to various sequences in an effort to play up the old carnival motif that the band were going for on this tour. There are a lot of compression artifacts in these scenes as well as some pretty serious macroblocking. Now, this doesn't happen constantly - it's sporadic. There are moments where the video quality is excellent. Some of the close ups show ever pore and ever bead of sweat on the band as they play. It's just a shame that the video quality is so erratic and inconsistent as once you remove the altered scenes from the content, it looks fine but the darker scenes really fair poorly for something that was shot on HD to begin with. This is an improvement over the SD release, but just barely.Sound:
The standard Dolby Digital 5.1 48kHz 640kbps Surround Sound mix is nice but a TrueHD mix would have been preferable. Surrounds are used primarily for audience response and crowd noise with the bulk of the music coming at you from the front of the mix. It's pretty hard to notice any difference here between this mix and the one contained on the SD release - they sound identical. Bass response is nice and strong and there's some good channel separation. One has to wonder why an HD audio track wasn't included, however. An optional Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix is also included.Extras:
Most, though not all, of the extras from the SD release have been carried over for the Blu-ray debut and they're presented here in standard definition. First up is Inside The Big Top: A Motley Docruementary, a half hour featurette that is hosted by none other than Mighty Mike himself, the Crue's favorite little person. This behind the scenes segment shows us what goes into staging a concert as extravagant as this and it makes for a reasonably interesting watch.
Three shorter featurettes explore more specific aspects of the stage show. The three minute Blow It Up shows us how the pyrotechnics were designed and handled while Motley Crue's Greatest Tits is, as you could probably guess, simply the three minute 'Tommy Cam' portion of the show where a bevy of buxom and not so buxom ladies take their tops off for the band. The Meet And Greet featurette is a five minute look at some interaction between the band and fans who shelled out for a one on one with session with the four band members.
Animated menus and chapter selection are included on the disc, though the two music videos that were on the SD release are nowhere to be found on this Blu-ray release.Final Thoughts:
Die hard Motley Crue fans will want to add this one to their collection simply because it is a slight improvement over the SD release, but really, overall this release is pretty mediocre. It's missing extras, the video quality is mediocre and the audio is very middle of the road. The performance is as theatrical and decadent as you'd expect from the band but this release leaves a whole lot of room for improvement. Rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.