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BRITNEY SPEARS:  LIVE AND MORE

Review by Michael Jacobson

Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video:  Standard 1.33:1
Studio:  Jive/BMG
Features:  Photo Gallery, Video Jukebox, Weblinks
Length:  80 Minutes
Release Date:  February 13, 2001

Film ***

Britney Spears first burst on to the entertainment scene like a sixteen year old juggernaut, and has shown no sign of slowing down.  With two multi-platinum albums, a string of hot videos, sold out concert appearances and TV specials, she proved to naysayers that she was much more than a flavor-of-the-month, and with her act a cross between sex kitten and innocent schoolgirl, she’s managed to accumulate a fan base of all ages, races and sexes.

I should point out before I get into the goods on the new DVD Britney Spears:  Live and More that I do NOT have a crush on her.  I like her music, I enjoy her videos, and have generally gotten the impression from her interviews and appearances that she’s a charming young lady, but, as my man Alex here at DMC is fond of pointing out, she’s way too young for me.  (Thanks, bro.)

This video presentation is a good mix of her live performances in Hawaii, videos from the Oops…I Did It Again album, behind-the-scenes footage, and her Saturday Night Live performances, plus a nice surprise or two thrown in along the way.  In addition to hearing her sing her hits from “Crazy” to “From the Bottom of My Broken Heart” to the title tracks from both of her CDs, there’s plenty of off-stage antics as well.  We attend a traditional Hawaiian fire dance with Britney, go parasailing with her and her dancers, attend a hula session, and my personal favorite, the surprise visits.  We go with her to the house of her number one fan in Hawaii, a little girl who had written numerous letters to Britney—she was quite shocked and delighted to see her favorite star on her doorstep!  Britney and her troupe throw the kid and her friends an impromptu pizza party…quite a class act.

The SNL stuff, however, is an absolute scream, and I’m very glad they included it on this disc.  Young Britney proves a capable comedienne with a good sense of timing and self-depreciation, as she watches a couple of the cast alumnists ‘try-out’ to be one of her dancers, or when she plays a tough talking urban girl who once got into a fight with ‘Britney Spears’ on the set of the Mouseketeers.  Good stuff all.

Then, to top it all off, three of her videos are included over the course of the program:  “Oops, I Did It Again”, “Stronger”, and “Lucky” (her best video in my opinion).  But, I would have to say the live concert against the beautiful backdrop of the Hawaiian Islands would have to be attraction number one.  Britney and her dancers put on an energetic show, and the enthusiastic crowd seems to eat up every note, every move, and every “I hope you like this next song” from her.

I don’t know if fans will appreciate the way this program is presented…I kind of liked it myself, just for being different, but others might have preferred just a straight concert instead of a song here and there broken up by the other contents.  Of course, with DVD and its chapter stop capabilities, one can easily string favorite parts together.  The video jukebox feature, in fact, makes it easy to do just that (more on that further down).

Overall though, this video is a fun and fairly well rounded look at a young star at the top of her game, doing what she does best and proving why she’s the phenomenon she is.  I’d wager that only the most die-hard Britney hater would walk away from this showing without a smile.

Video ***1/2

This is a good looking presentation for the most part…naturally, with such a mix of programming, the quality varies slightly from moment to moment, but it never drops below a good level.  The concert footage is extremely bright and colorful, with lights, costumes and movement galore.  It all renders naturally with good sharpness despite the normal videotape limitations.  The Hawaiian settings, from the blue ocean to green trees to brown sandy beaches look terrific in that famed sunlight.  The SNL footage looks quite good for a television presentation, and the music videos are first rate all the way.  High marks.

Audio ****

Just ignore that stereo track and crank up the 5.1!  On second thought, DON’T crank it up, because it’s loud, loud, LOUD.  Making excellent use of the multi-channel capabilities, this DVD really recreates the feel of a live concert in both its tremendous dynamic range and bass, but in the way the sounds of the crowd and reverb play behind you.  The overall mix is superb, with good balance throughout.  Even the music videos sound better than you’ve ever heard them on MTV.  This is a superb DVD music listening experience…one of the best I’ve heard.

Features **

Most concert videos don’t have much in the way of extras, but this one includes a photo gallery, some weblinks, and the aforementioned Video Jukebox.  You can use your remote to pick the songs you want to hear and the order, and the disc will play them back just as you wanted.  Or, you can pick the shuffle feature and get the songs presented to you in random order.  All the live performances and videos are there for you to choose from.

Summary:

She’s not going away anytime soon…why fight it?  Whether you’re a rabid young fan or an old goat like me who secretly knows the words to “Baby, One More Time”, Britney Spears:  Live and More is a musical, fun filled and well presented disc with a killer surround track and plenty of cool stuff to mix with the concert footage.