Evita Blu-ray Review
You’re taking a gamble when you cast Madonna as your lead in a big budget musical, but for director Anthony Parker’s EVITA, Madonna wasn’t really the problem. EVITA had the odds stacked against it from the beginning and although it has a couple of catchy musical numbers, the overall film failed to capture the grandness it seemed to strive for.
EVITA is what I would call a “true” musical in that the entire film is sung. It sometimes works for what it is, but since there aren’t many films without dialogue, audiences should be prepared for the constant singing. The music in EVITA is hit and miss; “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” and “You Must Love Me” are good songs and there are a couple of others sprinkled throughout, but the “singing” of dialogue sometimes feels like when people try to speak in a sing-songy voice. Watching Eva lay on her death bed and “sing” to Juan was painful to watch as it came off a little ridiculous. But director Alan Parker stayed true to his musical and even though it made sense at times to have the actors speak the dialogue rather than sing it, Parker pressed on.
The other major issue with EVITA is that Eva Peron is not really a person that’s easy to root for. If you don’t know who Eva Peron is, then it may come as a surprise to you when you learn how she came to be such a popular figure in Argentina and what she actually did with that power. The short answer is that she slept her way to the top and then did virtually nothing with her fame and power. Argentinians alive during her heyday (the late 40’s) may feel differently about her, but that was the impression we got from the film. I find it funny that Argentinians were upset with the casting of Madonna as Eva Peron, when I don’t feel that they were all that different.
The surprise of the film came from Madonna, who I thought did very well as Eva Peron. As I alluded to above, I didn’t find Eva to be that far of a stretch for Madonna, but given she’s not known as an actress, she did fine with what she had. I also liked Antonio Banderas’s character in EVITA, who was basically an outside witness to the life of Peron. He grounded the film and his songs provided a nice narration to the events on screen. The one song and dance he shared with Madonna was one of the better numbers and the film would have been improved with them sharing more screen time together.
EVITA was a tough story to bring to the big screen and some of the struggles showed in the final film. At times it seemed Parker wanted to make an epic historical film about one of the most controversial figures in Argentina’s history, but the “grandness” of it all felt a little flat. The singing took center stage and Parker sometimes sacrificed telling a story in order to make the music work. Eva Peron is a complicated character and I’m not convinced the audience walked away truly knowing who she was. Although we all walked away singing “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”.
Video: I had several issues with this transfer and felt it was a letdown as far as Blu-ray transfers are concerned. The colors are very flat and at times I felt I was watching the DVD. Fans of the film will be disappointed with the lack of attention paid to this title.
Audio: The audio was also very well done.
The Making of Evita (42:13): A well done feature that gives us not only interviews and clips, but also lets us see the actors and Andrew Lloyd Weber in the recording studio as well as on location. A worthwhile watch for fans of the film who can’t get enough.
Music Video: “You Must Love Me’ (3:16)