Buena Vista // 2003 // 40 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // December 19th, 2003
met-a-mor-phosis n. 1 The transformation from actress to music phenomenon
Fresh from the successful The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Hilary Duff set out to make her mark in music with her debut album Metamorphosis. It was a success, peaking at the top spot on the charts. The next logical step: a DVD chronicling the making of the album. A nice idea, but unfortunately for Duff, she deserved much better than this all too brief look.
The disc has a very fragmented nature, which makes for a disjointed viewing experience. Three Duff music videos are alternated with documentary footage showing us the highs and lows of production. This footage is followed by clips from her appearance on the popular Sessions@AOL series and a "living photo gallery" sprinkled with home videos of the superstar from her formative years.
Now, this doesn't sound like such a bad package. There is some good material here. The music itself has depth and has potential to stand the test of time, unlike her contemporaries. The music videos "Why Not?," "So Yesterday," and "I Can't Wait" are well directed and shot. Duff is an engaging performer who has instant charisma and electricity with the camera. I also admire her sweet, often virginal persona. I'm so used to the sexual overload that is Britney and Christina that I think it is refreshing to have a pop singer who defines innocence and virtue in music. With that said, how does this disc go wrong?
First, it's too short. Although the cover lists the running time as one hour, in actuality it runs closer to fifty minutes. It is hard to justify purchasing a short disc that really doesn't have much on it.
Second, the fragmented nature is very annoying. We get a few minutes of Duff taking us behind the scenes, followed by a music video, then more behind the scenes stuff, another music video, et cetera. The ideal format would have been to give us all the documentary footage edited together into a coherent featurette, then give us the music videos, followed by an entire concert.
Third, the transfer itself is a bust. The full frame picture is chock full of subdued colors and grain. The lighting of the original photography was poor to begin with, but this DVD doesn't even give it a chance. It all looks flat and sterile and that's not what we want in a music DVD. This disturbing trend really needs to stop.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround audio sounds great, though. Sound is the one area where music discs never fail and this one is bold, clear, and audible throughout the running time.
The cover lists the photo gallery and home movies as extras, but they are included as part of the program. Two additional acoustic performances are listed as bonus features, but are also part of the feature program. If there's anything I hate, it's when a studio tries to pass off dubious features as extras. Fake is fake, even when it's something as minor as this. The only real extra is an on-screen biography that many will not have the patience to sit through.
Do I recommend this as a purchase? Hell no! This isn't even worth the $7.99 discount price I have seen this disc priced at some stores. Buena Vista's $14.99 suggested retail price is a joke for the scant amount of material here. A rental might be a good idea for Hilary Duff fans, but my recommendation is to tune into the Disney Channel instead. Save your money for when a real Hilary Duff concert is released.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Buena Vista
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 40 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site