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Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Print E-mail
Friday, 22 August 2008
ImageThere is no question that the tween pop sensation is ever present in today's culture.  Likely you are a parent of child that is begging you for Hannah Montana gear or makes you sit down and watch Hannah Montana on the Disney channel with them.  Walt Disney is notorious for creating the next teen sensation during their tween years.  The Mickey Mouse Club started several superstars' careers before their teenage years.  You may have heard of some of them, perhaps Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake or maybe even Christina Aguilera.  Disney's success continued when they made a superstar in the form of blonde tween queen, Hilary Duff.  Six years ago Disney launched Hilary's young face to super stardom with Lizzie McGuire.  Duff went on to star in many teen films like "A Cinderella Story," "Raise Your Voice," and "The Lizzie McGuire Movie."  She also propelled herself into a successful music career, launching two albums and touring across the country.  Unfortunately, Hilary had to grown up and beyond the age range of the Disney crowd.  Cue the next project…

"Hannah Montana" became an instant overnight success.  So who became Disney's new face? - Miley Cyrus, daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus.  The Disney channel series centers on a tween (Miley Cyrus) that leads a double life.  By day is she a typical teenager, Miley.  But come the night, she turns into pop superstar, Hannah Montana.  Only her father, brother and best friend Lily know of her double life.  In fact, Miley's TV dad is portrayed by, none other than her real-life father, Billy Ray Cyrus.  The show is such a huge success among the tweens (girls that idolize her, and boys that want to be with her), that Disney created the Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus concert tour.

"Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert" has swept across the nation.  Never before have you heard so many screaming fans.  I don't think this many girls screamed during the N'Sync era.  For those that unfortunately were unable to attend one of her shows, you shall be sad no more.  Disney has released the concert on Blu-ray disc, and in 3-D nonetheless. The film showcases the concert that has both Hannah Montana songs, as well as Miley Cyrus songs.  Off-stage footage gives you a behind the scenes look at the production of the concert and the life of Miley Cyrus.  Joined by the Jonas Brothers and her dad, Miley gives us a look at what it takes to be a tween sensation.  Behind the scandals and publicity, appears a quite normal, and likeable teenager.  Unfortunately, her "still in the works" talent is masked by one-note, bubble-gum pop, annoying songs.  So may like the style in which the concert is presented.  I however, personally find it annoying to inter-cut behind the scenes materials behind song numbers.  It breaks the illusion of the concert.  Needless the say, the screaming fans montage pierced my eardrums.

Naturally, the tweens will eat up this disc like there is no tomorrow.  Adults however, will struggle to find some barely watchable elements.  How long will the Hannah Montana phenomenon last?  Studies show a run of about four years, but with Miley's infectious attitude and smile, you never know.

Now on to the good stuff...the video presentation.  The concert in presented in both a 2-D and a 3-D version on one 50GB Blu-ray disc.  First, let's discuss the 2-D presentation.  It may seem unrated compared to the hype about the 3-D version, but it is in no way second best.  The video quality is about as good as it gets.  The transfer accurately and exquisitely portrays the colorful stage lights.  The colors are vibrant and rich.  Details are incredible.  Every part of the stage, audience, costumes, and instruments can be seen clearly.  There is no edge enhancement used or needed here.  All the footage was shot with HD cameras.  The behind the scenes footage is remarkable, but pales in comparison to concert.  All in all though, the video of the 2-D version is on par with five stars.

The 3-D version however, is fascinating but not up to snuff.  I must confess, the idea of getting a chance to see 3-D Blu-ray material was too good to pass up.  Just to be clear, only the concert is in 3-D.  The behind the scenes material is not in 3-D (with the exception of some name subtitles).  This makes the glasses-on-glasses-off routine quite annoying.  The biggest downer however, is that this is not a full color 3-D presentation.  The red/blue process of full color HD material yields a purplish image.  This becomes quite irritating after a while.  However, the depth of the 3-D image is very good.  The foreground objects are extremely three-dimensional.  Confetti flies right in your face.  But, I would have to say that the most fascinating 3-D images come form the drummer and guitarist when they through their drumsticks and guitar pick into the audience.  It comes right at the camera.  Many of the motions made by Miley and the dancers were pre-arranged and broke the illusion of being there at the concert.  It was cute, but unnecessary.  The 2-D version should be considered your primary version, with the 3-D version being a nice addition.  (NOTE: the Blu-ray disc does come with four pairs of 3-D glasses for whole family entertainment.  However, you will find that the best 3-D image comes from being situated in the center, with the width of the TV consuming your entire field of vision.)

While the video quality was superb, the audio quality left some things to be desired.  First, I must praise Disney for including both a DTS-HD Master track, and a PCM audio track.  As is typical with most concert releases, each audio track has its pluses and minuses, making neither one perfect.  The DTS-HD Master track is presented in 7.1.  With the screaming fans this concert, you will definitely get a sense of atmosphere with the surround track.  However, the music mix does not make much use of the four surround channels.  The drum's cymbals are occasional present in the surrounds along with some overall reverb.  However, that is about it.  There is no movement of instruments around the surrounds.  I am still waiting for a professional concert release that takes advantage of the surround format.  The 2.0 track unfortunately is fairly flat, primarily due to the amount of fan noise blended into the mix.  The bass was a little light on both tracks, especially for a pop-rock concert.

As a recording engineer, I cannot help but to comment on the musical performances.  This is concert is true to form of the bubble-gum pop sensation.  All 16 songs sound the same.  In fact, "Nobody's Perfect" is nearly a carbon copy of a Hilary Duff song.  Not shock there.  Miley Cyrus has some budding talent.  Unfortunately, her voice is still developing and is fairly weak at times.  The Jonas Brothers are a whole different matter. There is no doubt talent there.  However, all the guys sing the same harmony.  And to disguise their individual voices they use a lot of vocal slides so that the notes don't (or can't) naturally decay.  The performances are not horrible by any means.  There is tremendous potential talent.

The supplemental features will be well embraced by tween fans.  There is an 11-minute featurette, "The Ultimate Personal Tour."  This featurette follows Miley and the Jonas Brothers for a day on set.  The Sing-Along places pink lyrics on the screen to perform exactly what the title of the bonus feature implies.  And the last bonus feature is a compilation of bonus songs, two in total.  There is one Miley Cyrus song and one by the Jonas Brothers.  That is it.  It takes a lot of disc space to include two HD video presentations, so don't be disappointed.

Hannah Montana is a part of our culture, for better and worse.  I must admit though, Hannah is a great role model for kids to look up to.  In world that is filled with hate and violence, Hannah Montana presents some wholesome fun.  If your kids like her, just remember your kids could be doing something worse with their time.  The songs in the concert are a bit redundant but surprisingly engaging.  The 2-D version is outstanding in terms of presentation quality, while the 3-D version is fascinating and fun.  Definitely worth a look if you are a fan of Blu-ray.  And, if you are fan of Hannah Montana then it is definitely a must own.

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