Selena (1997)

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Released 14-Oct-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Listing-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 122:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Gregory Nava
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Jennifer Lopez
Jackie Guerra
Constance Marie
Alex Meneses
Jon Seda
Edward James Olmos
Jacob Vargas
Pete Astudillo
Panchito Gómez
Ricky Vela
Don Shelton
Richard Emanuelle
León Singer
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.95 Music Steven Adler
Dave Grusin
Duff McKagan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   Selena tells the story of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, the "queen of Tejano music", who grew up as a singer and became a huge success in the United States and Mexico, until she was tragically shot dead by the president of her fan club at the young age of 23.

We see a 10-year-old Selena (Rebecca Lee Meza) grow up in her family's band, Selena y Los Dinos, becoming a passionate young woman (Jennifer Lopez) dealing with young love, racial issues, being constantly surrounded by family, financial hardships, and being under the watchful eye of her well meaning but difficult father Abraham (Edward James Olmos). Her journey to being successful runs parallel with her discovering her own voice and finding her happiness, until her life is tragically cut short.

The acting is solid, with Jennifer Lopez turning in a convincing performance in both the dramatic scenes and the large-scale singing pieces (in which she lip syncs to the actual Selena Quintanilla-Pérez). The supporting cast are also great, and while all of Selena's family shines, Oscar-nominee Edward James Olmos steals the show as passionate but overprotective Abraham.

While the film steers clear of a lot of overused dramatic conventions, it sometimes falls back on cliché and takes some liberties in telling Selena's story. But the sadly effective ending and footage of the actual Selena add genuine pathos to the film as well as authenticity, and it's also powerful to see the tremendous force of real fans for Selena who have been drawn to the film as an event giving honour to her.

This is ultimately a film for fans, who will have no doubt seen it and probably own it already, but it shouldn't be passed up on quickly - Selena features an interesting story and a lot of great music, as well as some performances that overcome the pop-flavoured image now connected with J'Lo.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   The video is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

   I was totally unprepared for how good this transfer is; although the movie was only a minor hit, the video on this DVD is some of the best I’ve seen on the format. The transfer is extremely sharp, with very strong colours that reflect the different atmosphere of different sections of the film, only occasionally losing strong focus in wide scenes such as 19:07. There is also some light grain evident in extremely bright shots (46:15) and the sections of the movie shot on video tape or sampled from stock footage of Selena Quintanilla Perez look appropriately lacking in quality.

Shadow detail and black levels are very strong in most scenes (see 18:03 for an example of very clear, very detailed blacks) however does feature some low level noise in scenes shot separately on obviously cheaper footage, such as the video sequences (one example is 112:56). Overall, this is an excellent transfer, with the minor flaws not affecting the viewing experience.

   The DVD features English and Spanish subtitles. The scenes I sampled of the English subtitles were accurate and easily readable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

   The two audio tracks here are English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s) and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s).

   This is a strong, clear soundtrack, mostly delivered through the front speakers, which still provides a very nice soundscape despite rarely utilizing rear speakers. The mix always gives a surround feeling and the music sounds excellent. It's an absolute treat for fans.

   When the surround does kick in, mostly during the big musical numbers, it creates a strong sense of immersion (one example is at 64:03, in which the sounds of the crowd and cheering put you in Selena’s audience). Unfortunately, dialogue and sound effects in these scenes suffer, with an evident drop in volume, but the effect is maintained.

   Dialogue is well synced with only some minor issues, including poorly dubbed singing for the young 10 year old Selena. Drop outs were not noticeable. Overall, this is a great audio track that matches the high quality of the video.

   The scenes I sampled of the Spanish 5.1 dub seemed perfectly audible, maintaining the soundtrack with the new dialogue.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Interactive Menus

   The single shot of J'Lo as Selena adorns the simple though easy-to-navigate menu. There is no audio, which seems strange for a music-focused movie, though I think this DVD was released before DVD menus went completely over the top.

Cast and Crew

   A single screen showing the names of the cast and actors portraying them, and the writer/director. It's a shame that this is such a bare-bones disc, since it'd be very interesting to see how Selena's actual family was involved with the film and see behind-the-scenes how the film was shot, including all of the huge musical scenes and how actual fans involved and so forth.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   The R1 and R4 are identical in (lack of) features, however, I'd choose the PAL transfer any day. Support local and buy R4!

Summary

   Selena is an enjoyable film telling the true, tragic story of an icon few are familiar with. Artistic liberties and cliché aside, this is still very entertaining.

   The video and audio are both excellent.

   This DVD is, unfortunately, bare-bones.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDLG LH-D6230, using Component output
DisplayBenq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationLG
Speakers B&W LCR 600 S3 (Front & Centre); B&W DM 600 (Rears); B&W ASW500 (Sub)

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