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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 12/12/01



Queen: We Will Rock You
1982 (2001) - Pioneer Artists

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Queen: We Will Rock You

Program Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): A/A

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A/A+

Specs and Features

96 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.78:1), 16x9 enhanced, THX-certified, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 42:53, at the start of track 12), keep case packaging, audio commentary with director/producer Saul Swimmer, Queendom interactive map tour, band discography, biography and timeline, trivia game, photo gallery, THX Optimizer test signals, animated film-themed menu screens with sound effects and music, song access (25 tracks - see track listing below), languages: English (DD 5.1 & DTS 5.0), subtitles: English

"…any way the wind blows."

To call legendary rock group Queen "flamboyant" is like calling the Pacific Ocean "kinda moist." With a distinct operatic flavor, Queen set themselves apart from the deluge of rock acts in the '70s and '80s by glazing their songs with a level of showmanship made strikingly evident as soon as the needle hit the vinyl. The band possessed a great passion for their craft, and levels of vision and talent that surpassed many of the three-chord rock bands of the era. Queen offered fans a variety of styles, from straight-on rockers like Keep Yourself Alive, to Elvis-inspired rock-a-billy like Crazy Little Thing Called Love, coming full circle with sweeping, large-scale works like Bohemian Rhapsody. Lead singer Freddie Mercury (who succumbed to AIDS at the end of 1991) had an on-stage presence that commanded the audience, and a distinctive voice that fit perfectly with the band's off-center style. And, in my humble opinion, with the exception of Eric Clapton, no other rock guitarist has ever been able to coax the true essence of the instrument like Queen's Brian May.

Recorded in Montreal at the end of 1981, We Will Rock You is an exciting concert experience, now made even better thanks to a new high-definition transfer and a 5.1 audio reworking courtesy of Pioneer. We Will Rock You was filmed with Mobilevision technology, which allows images to be projected on to five-story tall screens (two-upping IMAX's three-story tall screens). The camera work and editing style necessary to create a Mobilevision film translates very well to smaller screens, and succeeds in giving the impression of increased scale, and enhanced focus. If the concert has a downfall, it's that the audience seems strangely subdued, to the point where Freddie tries to prod the crowd into opening up a little. Nothing will bring down a performance like a flaccid audience, but it didn't seem to hurt the band too badly. Even though this particular performance happened in the middle of Queen's career and doesn't include later favorites like A Kind of Magic, Radio Ga Ga, Who Wants to Live Forever and I Want it All, the collection of songs presented here is still a nicely inclusive retrospective of the band's early work.

After doing a little digging on the background of this DVD, I learned that the geeks at THX (I mean that in the most loving of ways) put Pioneer through the proverbial wringer to get the transfer looking as sparklingly beautiful as (in)humanly possible. Man oh man... did it ever pay off! With a new high-definition transfer, the film looks sharper and more vibrant than ever. The 1.78:1 anamorphic image is virtually free from any noise or blemishes, and the show's rainbow of colors leaps off the screen. Even through the heavy smoke stage effects, the picture remains rock solid, never breaking into compression artifacts.

And oh, the sound… the sweet, sweet beautiful sound! The newly remastered audio featured on this DVD is so immediate, so exciting, so grand and so luxuriant, that I thought the warlocks at Pioneer had managed to resurrect Mr. Freddie Mercury himself, and talk him into re-recording this with the band. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is bold and powerful, with all of the drama of the "live" experience. The music blasts full-force into the listening area, without ever becoming harsh or distorted. The rear channels are used tastefully, yet fully, for venue ambiance, and low frequencies are forceful, but never artificially bloated. The DTS 5.0 track goes even further by sporting slightly tighter low frequencies, and more natural soundspace cohesion. Once you experience the audio on this disc, you can rest assured that your home theater-induced hearing loss is worthwhile after all.

Not content with the kick-ass audio/video presentation, Pioneer went a step further and beefed up the disc with a few interesting extras. The best feature on this DVD is a brand new audio commentary track with the film's director/producer, Saul Swimmer. Swimmer explains in great detail the filming of the concert, and his experience with the band. One gets the feeling, after listening to this track, that he became rather close with Queen, and seems to know each member's personality very well. This is a track Queen fans can't afford to miss. Next up is a very cool interactive map tour of England, called Queendom, which highlights important locations in the band's history. When you select a location, a screen appears that contains a text explanation of the spot's importance to Queen, with a video clip of the location running in a separate picture window on the right side of the screen. Also look for a trivia game pertaining to the band's history, with an extra goodie that gets unlocked when all the questions are answered correctly. A discography of Queen's albums is also found on the disc, listing the songs from each album, each album's release date and its top chart position. Biographies for each band member, along with a band timeline of important events, are included too, as well as a photo gallery. I don't know if you can count this as a true supplement, but there are English subtitles throughout the program, so you can access song lyrics during the show. Oh, yeah... and those THX Optimizer test signals are here too (*shrug*).

If you like Queen, you'll love this disc. It was a gigantic undertaking for Pioneer to get it looking and sounding this good, and all the hard work most definitely paid off. The concert contains some of Queen's best songs, and the new audio/video presentation drops you front row, center. If you're a fan or just love great music on DVD, this disc will most definitely rock you.

Greg Suarez
gregsuarez@thedigitalbits.com

Track List

We Will Rock You
Let Me Entertain You
Play the Game
Somebody to Love
Killer Queen
I'm in Love with My Car
Get Down Make Love
Save Me
Now I'm Here
Dragon Attack
Love of My Life
Under Pressure
Keep Yourself Alive
Drum Solo
Guitar Solo
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Jailhouse Rock
Bohemian Rhapsody
Tie Your Mother Down
Another One Bites the Dust
Sheer Heart Attack
We Will Rock You (Reprise)
We Are the Champions
God Save the Queen




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