Few projects released last year carried the same weight and impact as !Hero: The Rock Opera. First a double-disc CD release, then a comic book, then most notably a national tour, !Hero was the talk of the later half of 2003 and much of the Spring of 2004. The live show (click here for our full review of one of the live performances) was a multimedia powerhouse of drama, music, and video accompaniment that comprised one exciting, intriguing, and breathtaking evening. As the brainchild of CCM heavyweight Eddie Degarmo, !Hero's live show boasted the talents of Michael Tait (as Hero), Rebecca St. James (as Maggie), Mark Stuart from Audio Adrenaline (as Petrov), T-Bone, and Paul Wright leading a team of artists and dancers to bring a modern day telling of the Gospel to life on stage. Slightly over a year after the record debuted, the !Hero: The Rock Opera: Live On Stage DVD hits shelves, capturing the !Hero experience to bring it home to you.
While we've already reviewed the record and the live show separately, restating it all here is unnecessary. We've already decided it's an incredible live experience, so the question remains, "How does it look on video?"
To be honest, I feared how it might play out on DVD. There's so much going on on the stage that it seems like it'd be a daunting task to attempt to capture it all on film. I have to admit, !Hero: The Rock Opera: Live On Stage does a fine job. The video quality is crisp and clear. The editing varies between ultra-choppy when trying to get a mood across to the viewer (i.e. when Hero is being beaten by the mobs) and slow and tasteful (when Hero and his mother have their duet). The shots vary nicely with wide angles showing the entire stage (as the audience would see it) and close-ups, which allows the audience to see !Hero in a new, much more intimate way. A split screen is used sparingly at times when more than one thing is taking place on screen and zooming in on one thing just won't due. It works effectively and is a nice touch, but tends to remind the viewer they're not sitting in the audience with everybody else. Seeing the show live for the first time is truly captivating and the DVD does the best it can to offer that same feeling.
The audio is as good as it gets. Presented in 5.1 Surround Sound, the sound is clear and polished. At times, it holds a beautiful live feel while other times you get the feeling the actors and artists may just be lip-syncing to a pre-recorded track. When watching some of the behind-the-scenes footage that show the video with the audio as it was recorded live (before production and mastering), it has a more home video camera in the audience feel. But the power of the mastered sound is lost. The feature presentation of the rock opera benefits greatly from the production quality of the audio.
There is also a nice selection of bonus features on the DVD. Some cast interviews give the viewers an inside look at how the actors and artists responded to the show and the audience's reactions. It's also neat to hear what they thought of each other and the characters they played. Hearing Eddie Degarmo share his vision for !Hero and following him around during rehearsal and even the moments leading up to the show's opening night and after is just a real treat for any fan of the project. Getting to see some of the cast cut up behind stage, namely T-Bone and Stuart, is also really fun. Other features include an interactive photo gallery, promotional trailers, featurettes on the wardrobe, fan reaction, and a music video for the song "I Am."
If you've seen !Hero The Rock Opera live and enjoyed it, you'll definitely want this DVD. Sure it's not quite the same as experiencing it in person, but it does as fine a job as a recording can do. If you have yet to see !Hero, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to this DVD. It should tide you over nicely should they decide to tour the show again.- Review date: 9/13/04, written by John DiBiase
Disc One: Feature Program
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