Rest assured, Chief Justice Michael Stailey will never be coming to you in 3D.
Our reviews of Glee: The Complete First Season (published September 14th, 2010), Glee: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) (published September 29th, 2010), Glee: Season Two, Volume One (published February 28th, 2011), Glee: The Complete Second Season (published September 28th, 2011), Glee: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray) (published October 5th, 2011), Glee: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray) (published November 22nd, 2012), Glee: The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray) (published October 21st, 2013), Glee: Encore (published April 27th, 2011), and Glee: Encore (Blu-ray) (published April 28th, 2011) are also available.
The ultimate Glee experience in glorious 2D!
My patience with this franchise is rapidly wearing thin. For as much as I enjoyed Season One, was frustrated by Season Two, and am finding redemption with the new writing team on Season Three, this live concert experience could very well be the tipping point. The epitome of unnecessary self-indulgence, presented theatrically in wholly unnecessary 3D, Glee: The Concert Movie is a fan service cash grab. Yes, I understand the rabid fandom the show has generated, and appreciate the positive impact its characters and themes have generated in schools and individuals. I also see the value in allowing fans to see and experience their television heroes up close and personal. But enough is enough already.
You've heard all these performances before, most staged and executed better in the context of the series' narrative. So even the most die-hard fans will gain nothing from this concert, except maybe a headache from the seemingly endless montages and cutaways to fans outside various concert arenas professing their love for the show and its characters. If you're expecting some sort of profound Glee experience, I hate to disappoint you, but this is nothing more than a mash-up of musical numbers from the show's first two seasons.
• "Don't Stop Believing"—Everyone
Look, these are talented performers. There's no arguing that. And while some rise to the occasion of a live stage performance, others do not. Darren Criss (Blaine) and Naya Rivera (Santana) light up the venue with limitless confidence, effortless ease, and more personality than you can possible imagine. Kevin McHale, who remains stuck in Artie's wheelchair for much of the show, gives it everything he's got and more. Lea Michele (Rachel), the seasoned Broadway performer, pulls it out when she needs to. The same holds true for Amber Riley (Mercedes), Mark Salling (Puck), Chord Overstreet (Sam), and Cory Monteith (Finn), though the boys get to rock out on their respective musical instruments on several occasions. Even Heather Morris (Brittany) and Harry Shum (Mike) are able to showcase their impressive dance skills, backing up their fellow Glee clubbers on several numbers. Unfortunately, Dianna Agron (Quinn), Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina), and Ashley Fink (Lauren) are relegated to the background, save for Quinn's one number with Sam. They even lose out to Gwyneth Paltrow who makes a guest appearance as substitute teacher Holly Holiday on her most popular number, Cee-Lo's "Forget You."
What's bothers me most, as a writer, is the lack of forethought that went into this tour. If you're going to keep all your performers in character, at least try to frame these numbers in some sort of context. Why is the McKinley High School Glee Club playing to sold out stadiums across the country? Why aren't these kids, who are so overwhelmed by participating in sectional, regional, and national competitions, completely unnerved that they're being treated like rock stars singing to tens of thousands of unhinged fans? If they risk losing their amateur status by making a local mattress store commercial, how does this not negate them from ever competing again? Why is there no mention or memory of this world-famous stage tour in Season Three? And for the love of GOD, why aren't these characters interacting with one another on stage?!
And then there are the wraparounds. Oy…In what amounts to a Dateline NBC or 20/20 special, the music (which is what you paid to see) is inexplicably ensconced in human interest stories about high school teens whose lives were profoundly changed by the show. We get the young gay man whose journal was stolen and copies spread around the school, thus outing him and forcing him to change schools, but who found confidence in the trials and tribulations of Kurt Hummel. We have the inspirational story of a teen cheerleader who doesn't let her status as a little person stop her from becoming an all-star and prom princess; because if Artie can rise above his physical limitations, so can she. We also have the overweight girl with Asperger syndrome who is so inspired by Brittany S. Pierce that she's completely changed her life for the better. And there's the five-year-old YouTube sensation who can perform every Dalton Warbler number with as much panache as any of the actors. Finally, we get ever so insightful comments from concert-going Glee fans of every age, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity, because if you didn't already know the show has nutty fans, you do now.
Presented in standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Glee: The Concert Movie is a dumbing down of the high definition digital 3D presentation found in theaters during the summer of 2011. As expected, the visuals are softer and the detail less sharp, but the colors pop and the stage experience is just as you'd expect from a filmed concert—ala Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. The Dolby 5.1 surround attempts to mimic the amphitheater experience, but it's an approximation at best. The channel separation on the music is fine, but don't expect to have the roar of the crowd behind you nor the sizzle of the stage effects making your hair stand on end. It's a clean track with no distortion and exceptional vocal clarity, but that's about it.
When it comes to bonus material…well, you take what you can get.
Deleted Performances—Tina and Mercedes front "Dog Days are Over" (3 min), and the boys (Blaine, Sam, Artie, Puck, and Mike) do an acoustic version of Rebecca Black's ridiculous "Friday" (2 min) that contains the most character interaction in the entire show (which isn't saying much).
Extended Performances—Mercedes gets a bit more stage time with "Ain't No Way" (3 min), while Kurt and Rachel play Judy and Barbra with "Get Happy / Happy Days are Here Again" with Rachel sporting Babs classic sailor suit (2 min).
On Stage with the Cast (6 min)—Here's a bit more character interaction, which is little more than Coach Sylvester (Jane Lynch) tossing out sarcastic barbs, and a Brittany/Blaine/Kurt exchange whose punchline is completely lost on the audience.
Backstage with the Cast (2 min)—Ryan Murphy ambushes the characters backstage with lame questions, lamer responses, and an impromptu Warblers performance.
Shazam Functionality—And if you haven't already contributed enough cash to the Glee coffers, Fox lets you instantly purchase mp3 downloads of these songs during the movie (if your player is wifi-enabled or otherwise connected to the internet).
Look, if you didn't see either of the concert tours in person and are dying to know what you missed, here you go. If you have a wacky Glee fan in your life, here's the perfect gift. For everyone else, you can live a happy, healthy, and robust life without ever plopping down the cash to purchase or rent Glee: The Concert Movie. In fact, if you want Glee to continue, you'd do more for the show by watching Season Three as it's broadcast, because the ratings are suffering badly and it may not be long for this world.
On the plus side, there's no Mr. Schuester.
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