Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Madonna: Sticky & Sweet Tour Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 42.7 GB
Film Size: 34.2 GB
Region: ABCThe Video
Madonna: Sticky & Sweet Tour comes to Blu-ray with a very healthy 1080i AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The concert is given quite a bit of room on the disc, but is a bit underwhelming in comparison to most concert releases on Blu-ray.

The high-def encode itself doesn’t have many issues, but it does look like cheaper high-def equipment was possibly used to film the concert. There are many issues that arise that are easily traced back to the source, particularly more low-end sources.

While the Blu-ray release is an improvement upon the DVD release, which also exhibits the same problem, I still found myself disappointed. The level of clarity can be nice and we do get some very revealing moments of Madonna, but often times detail is lacking and facial features can appear very waxy.

This is not a film so of course we have to look at the content a bit differently, but compared to most concerts I have seen on Blu-ray (and I have seen a lot), this is definitely one of the weakest looking. Colors are good, vibrant and all, although black levels could have been inkier throughout.

If you sit a bit farther from your television, you won’t really notice the issues of the high-def release too much. But those sitting at the recommended sitting area of your television or projector will likely find disappointment by the video presentation of Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour.

Of course like most concerts and films, the concert looks much better in motion than it does in the screenshots featured. The visuals aren’t terrible, but they do leave a lot to be desired. The waxy moments could have been cheap equipment or Madonna trying to hide a few wrinkles, but they are there. I wonder what Madonna must think of Blu-ray as it does bring out more of her flaws in comparison to the DVD. 6/10.

The Audio
A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included as well as a 2.0 PCM audio track. Optional subtitles include English, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Brazilian Portuguese. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track included is fantastic, featuring everything a great mix needs.

The mix is quite loud, louder than your typical track, but the clarity of it all is fantastic. I’ve read some controversy regarding the vocals of Madonna and a decision to use studio-recorded vocals for the DVD/Blu-ray release of her concert. Overall though, if it is a studio-recorded vocal, she could have fooled me.

The mix pays attention to the surround speakers nicely and right from the Sweet Machine Intro. The traveling vocals and effects go throughout the surround speakers, back and forth when fitting, etc. There are also certain moments throughout the concert that will have your surround speaker trembling and your house shaking like only the best mixes can.

The mix is definitely far better than I anticipated and definitely one of the stronger audio tracks on a concert I have come across recently. Fans of the concert will be very impressed as well as audiophiles. This is a fantastic mix and brings an added energy to the concert as a whole, I’m very impressed. 10/10.

The Extras

Behind The Scenes (30:25) (HD)
This is a behind-the-scenes look at the concert, including auditions and rehearsals. This is definitely an entertaining feature that viewers will certainly enjoy.

This is a behind-the-scenes look at the concert, including auditions and rehearsals. This is definitely an entertaining feature that viewers will certainly enjoy.

I’ve seen listings in which this release is listed as a Blu-ray+CD 2-disc set, but I do believe the information to be wrong. My review copy did not include an additional CD and have read various forums in which nobody has yet to claim a CD is included with their copy of the U.S. release.

The Blu-ray release is packaged in a standard 1-disc Elite Blu-ray case with no slip cover included. Overall the extras are quite weak, but this is also the case for most concert releases. 4/10.

The Concert
I’ll admit that I am not a big fan of Madonna, but the woman is a legend that many would compare to Michael Jackson and Sir Paul McCartney. She’s not the prettiest pop star, never was, but perhaps that is one of the many reasons she has had such a long and successful career.

Her songs have never really clicked with me, but I can understand why people love her music. I did enjoy her album ‘Hard Candy’ which featured collaborations with Timbaland, Justin Timberlake and others. The songs on that album had a bit more of a hip-hop feel that I enjoyed much more than her previous work.

The Sticky & Sweet Tour features songs from the Hard Candy album as well as previous hits, some reworked and some staying the same as before. I knew of her tour, but have never seen her in concert. When a Blu-ray release was announced I went on YouTube and checked out videos from her tour and was quite impressed by her showmanship on stage.

Watching the Blu-ray release I was extremely amazed by the amount of energy the woman brings to the stage and she definitely forms a connection with the massive audience. The show itself is quite impressive, featuring some great production values as far as sets and technology are concerned.

The concert is just over two hours in length, but the concert is perfectly paced with an assortment of different types of music, whether it is high energy or relaxed. I did think Madonna on the guitar was alright, but there are certain songs which could be described as butchered by some fans.

It is easy to see why Madonna has generated such a huge fan-base around the world. Her high energy and youthfulness (despite her age and obvious less appealing body) are great and her concert becomes one huge party where everyone feels welcome.

The Sticky & Sweet Tour definitely surprised me and will likely surprise casual fans of Madonna as well. If you don’t like Madonna, this won’t change your mind rather than reaffirm your opinion of her. Her concert while not among the best I have seen is definitely strong and easily enjoyable whether you are a big fan or just enjoy a bit of her music. 8/10.

The Blu-news Summary
Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour is an entertaining concert which I definitely enjoyed. The video presentation is disappointing, but the audio mix is definitely impressive. The extras are interesting, but there definitely could have been much more included. Overall though, this release is ‘Worth A Look.

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