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Disneymania 3 in Concert DVD Review

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Concert & DVD Details

Director: Jim Yukich

Performers: Raven-Symoné, fan_3, Kimberly Locke, Vitamin C, Lalaine, Christy Carlson Romano, Everlife, Aly & AJ, The Cheetah Girls

Running Time: 59 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated
1.85:1 Nonanamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
Studio: Walt Disney Records
Release Date: September 27, 2005
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $9.95
Black Keepcase


Review by Aaron Wallace

Disney's songs are some of the most oft-covered out there, so it makes sense that the company's music division would want to capitalize on their property's universality. Giving unique and inspired twists to widely known favorites is appreciated when done tastefully, and more often or not, that's what Disneymania achieves. If you haven't yet encountered anything from the Disneymania line, which currently consists of three albums, a collection of remixes, and concerts on DVD, chances are that you haven't paid much attention to Disney's more recent fare. The pop cover projects have met success in theatrical films and DVD, on the Disney Channel and Radio Disney, and inside the company's theme parks.

Early this year, the songs featured in the first two Disneymania albums took the spotlight in their own home video release, a "live" concert performance featuring many of the musicians behind the project. This fall, Disney followed up with Disneymania 3 In Concert, a release that features the weakest recordings (for the most part) of the third installment of the CD series. (Note that the 3 comes before "In Concert", meaning that this is only the second DVD of this type).

Disney's California Adventure, part of California's Disneyland Resort, is the setting for most of the performances of "Disneymania 3 in Concert." Raven gets a little bubbly "Under the Sea."

Raven-Symoné returns as host of the event, which takes place in Disney's California Adventure theme park in Anaheim. That's the same locale used in the first go-round, only this time it unfolds during daylight hours, robbing it of much of its aesthetic appeal. This release is an even greater disappointment than its predecessor. Once again, it appears that most (if not all) of the performances aren't actually "live" at all, despite the packaging labeling them as such. They are actually lip-synched or dubbed. The authenticity of the cheering and applause is suspect as well. And while
Disneymania 3 featured some outstanding renditions, most of what appears in this set list is taken from the dregs of that album. Songs by Kimberly Locke and Everlife are actually rather enjoyable and Aly & AJ surpass "tolerable," but all the stage performances are uneventful and make the visual component that distinguishes this release from the original album a little needless.

Those holding out hope that Disney would realize the unbearable horror of a fan_3 rap performance and distance themselves from the artist will be dismayed. Not only does she appear on Radio Disney's new Christmas album, but she's on stage with "It's a Small World" here, which sounds identically painful to the album version. To add insult to injury, Raven introduces the song as the theme to an attraction celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Mistaking 1955's park opening for 1964's New York World's Fair premiere of It's a Small World hardly seems like an appropriate honoring of the park's anniversary. The factual errors don't end there. If pop star Michael Bolton ever gets around to seeing this, he may take offense when the Cheetah Girls refer to him as Ricky Martin.

The performances are sometimes buffered by interviews with the upcoming artist inside the recording studio or with short comments about the joy of singing live. These are accompanied by the upcoming song's chorus playing repeatedly in the background, so that by the time the actual "live" singing comes around, the song has already been treaded through and grown old. Even more annoyingly, the interviews are sometimes superimposed over the actual performances. The order in which it all unfolds is listed below.

Lalaine's vocals may not be the most impressive of the bunch, but her choreography certainly is. Young Canadian pop-punker didn't make it to the States for this concert. Lucky her. This Everlife performance was included in music video form on the Tarzan "Special" Edition.

SET LIST

"Under the Sea" - Raven-Symone (Originally from The Little Mermaid)
Introduction
Welcome from Raven
"Grazin' in the Grass" - Raven-Symone (From The Lion King 1˝)
Inside the Studio with Raven on "Under the Sea"
"It's a Small World" - fan_3 (Originally from the 1964 New York World's Fair/Disneyland Attraction, It's a Small World)
"A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" - Kimberly Locke (Originally from Cinderella)
"8th World Wonder" - Kimberly Locke
"Kiss the Girl" - Vitamin C (Originally from The Little Mermaid
Inside the Studio with Lalaine on "Cruella De Vil"
"Cruella De Vil" - Lalaine (Originally from 101 Dalmatians
Inside the Studio with Skye Sweetnam on "Part of Your World"*
Inside the Studio with Christy Carlson Romano on "Colors of the Wind"
"Colors of the Wind" - Christy Carlson Romano (Originally from Pocahontas
"Strangers Like Me" - Everlife (Originally from Tarzan)
"Dive In" - Christy Carlson Romano
Inside the Studio with Aly & AJ on "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah"
"Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Aly & AJ (Originally from Song of the South)*
Inside the Studio with The Cheetah Girls on "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)"
"I Won't Say (I'm in Love)" - The Cheetah Girls (Originally from Hercules)

* Notice that Skye Sweetnam and Aly & AJ never actually take the stage.

Aly & AJ talk about "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" but never get to perform it. Kimberly Locke's laid back attire suggests that she agrees that this production is beneath her talents. See how many artists you can spot fly by at ultra-high speeds in the 4:3 main menu.

VIDEO and AUDIO

This release makes an improvement as it offers the program in widescreen, although it is non-anamorphic. With a brand new production like this, video quality should be excellent and for the most part it is, though there is some ever-so-minor edge enhancement. The transfer as a whole isn't quite as sharp as the last one's was, but still looks pretty good. The biggest problem is that the visuals simply aren't interesting.

One of the best things about having concerts made available on DVD is that they can come with 5.1 home theater mixes, but that isn't the case with the Disneymania concerts. Once again, there's 2.0 stereo track that sounds great and conveys the sound as well as two channels can. An optional 5.1 track would certainly have enhanced the aural experience.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, and DESIGN

The first Disneymania In Concert included a Clay Aiken music video, but no such bonus is found here. Each song and segment gets its own chapter on the disc, but those aren't selectable from any menu screen, nor are they clearly labeled in the two-page insert. The only option presented on the flashy menu (which uses footage and music from the program) is to play it in its entirety. The disc itself doesn't have a label on it, but it is decorated with some wavy lines of yellow and red.

White or copper skinned? The concert goes out with a Cheetalicious bang.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Disneymania 3 in Concert brings a widescreen presentation to the table but disappoints in every other regard when compared to its predecessor. A few of the songs stand out among those culled from the original album, but for the most part, the song and artist selection makes for a pretty weak set list. Musical repetition and factual inaccuracies only further annoyance and to top it all off, the supposedly live performances don't seem very convincing. The first Disneymania in Concert was far from perfect but was still essentially fun and somewhat re-watchable. This sequel project is neither. Only the most ardent Disneymania fans who already own the first DVD should even consider investing in this release, and even they are likely to be disappointed.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Disneymania in Concert (DVD)
Disneymania 3 (CD) • Disneymania 2 (CD) • DisneyRemixMania (CD)
Disney Channel Holiday (DVD) • The Even Stevens Movie (DVD) • The Lion King 1˝ (DVD)
"That's So Raven": Disguise the Limit (DVD) • Kim Possible: The Villain Files (DVD)
"Lizzie McGuire" Box Set Volume 1 (DVD) • Tarzan: Special Edition (DVD)
Cinderella: Platinum Edition (DVD) • The Lion King: Platinum Edition (DVD)

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Reviewed December 5, 2005.