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Made in America (Blu-ray Review)

Made In AmericaA celebration of both the unifying power of music and pursuit of the American dream, Made in America is an all-access backstage pass to the one-of-a-kind festival created by rap superstar Jay Z, and directed by Academy Award® winner Ron Howard. Featuring remarkable performances and fascinating backstage interviews with many of todays biggest music stars, Made in America shows how one giant celebration of music can change peoples lives.

 

Made in America

Film 

Made in America focuses on the “Made in America” music festival that made its debut in 2012 in Philadelphia that brought together some of hip-hop’s biggest names along with some of rock’s biggest names for a weekend festival of music, food, and community. Jay-Z was the man behind the plan and Ron Howard would come along to document the event. Ron Howard interviews Jay-z about his origins and what he had to do to overcome the pickle of growing up poor and living in the projects dodging bullets and crack heads to just to get to his apartment. Made in America multitasks a bit and showcases many artists and transcends genres.

Some of the regular folk involved with the festival as a vendor and crew capacity are also featured in the program. We tag along with a young single mother who is on the brink of bankruptcy as she dreams of starting her own gourmet sandwich truck business if the festivals proceeds are favorable. She has invested her last dime setting up a sandwich stand at the festival and will roll the dice on its possible success or failure. It’s a do or die type of moment. Another side story that we’re taken on is that of a crewmember that loves what he does working behind the scenes but hates coming back home to his urban life. He only makes enough during the peak times and almost nothing during the downtimes.

The rest of program is dedicate do the artiest performing at the Made in America festival and to Jay-Z who was the mastermind of it all. Made in America does not come off as a vanity project for Jay-Z, who at this point would not need it. It’d be redundant to think that he’s doing this for exposure. If anything this documentary showcases the many elements and genres that can happily coexist together while bringing the legions of fans an insane amount of entertainment. The festival is now in it’s second year and has expanded to Los Angeles. That exponential growth is pretty phenomenal.

Made in America as a whole is more than adequate in terms of what it is presented but I do think that it could have been expanded just a slight bit to gives an epilogue of sorts on the real people that were featured as opposed to just giving them a few minutes of screen time. What happened to the single mom sandwich maker? Was she able to start up the gourmet truck business she wanted and what about the lad who wanted to continue working behind the scenes on the stage? Was he able to get more touring gigs? Those things could have been expanded on but I also understand that this is more about event exposure than people’s life stories.  Made in America is entertaining and thoughtful and is worth a viewing. Oh, and from what I saw, The Hives were pretty awesome!

Made in America

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: This is a documentary and thankfully Howard and company did not get crazy with all sorts of film stock and whatnot. Color and black and white were used and the Blu-ray transfer handled it well.

Depth: The level of depth was impressive especially during the shots of the concert itself. The stage design and lighting really came through and gave it that extra bit of shock and awe during the more explosive parts of it that involved pyro.

Black Levels: Black levels held on during the nighttime shots. Crush was not a problem.

Color Reproduction: Since black and white was also used to capture the event what color was shot for the documentary came through nice and clear without any hints of banding or pixilation.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones were au natural unless you were in the pit.

Noise/Artifacts: The black and white segments did have a bit of noise but nothing to distracting.

 

Made in America

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics: Color me shocked at how unreal this Blu-ray sounded at a paltry 448 kbps – that’s DVD quality but you would not know otherwise. Made in America rocked the house and it was glorious!

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE is in tune with the rest of the channels, so when the music performances are highlighted then that’s when the bass comes into play.

Surround Sound Presentation: You can hear the crowd going crazy during performances as their energy comes through the rear speakers into your home theater.

Dialogue Reproduction: There are many segments and interviews that feature Ron Howard talking to artists and crew/vendors – the audio levels during these segments is top notch and I never noticed any signs of distortion or clipping. The center channel came through with flying colors.

 

Made in America

Extras  

Nothing of the sort.

Made In America

Summary  

Made in America is an obvious calling card to the “Made in America” music festival. It’s a tad self-serving but the content on this Blu-ray and the talent behind it make it all worthwhile. Ron Howard does a great job at capturing performances as he does in capturing artists and audience response. The Blu-ray is fine for what it is. I believe it was thrown together fairly quickly due to not having one single extra and a non-lossless track but it’s really not a big deal in the end. If you’ve got the time then Made in America is worth watching.

 

 

Order Made in America on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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