Madonna’s remastered ‘Truth or Dare’ looks good, but sounds better
3 Stars out of 5
TRUTH OR DARE
Madonna, Warren Beatty, Sandra Bernhard. 100 mins. Rated R.
Perhaps it was a clever marketing ploy, but releasing Madonna’s landmark documentary Truth or Dare on Blu-ray so close to MDNA (not to mention her Truth or Dare perfume) may backfire for die-hard fans. The CD has been hit-and-miss, but ToD recalls the greatness of Madge at her peak.
Madonna’s landmark Blond Ambition Tour came off her Like a Prayer and I’m Breathless albums, and a respectable performance in the film Dick Tracy. Madonna was a force when she made her definitive concert video. Watching ToD this time around, it plays as enthralling music history.
At 32, she was light years ahead of her time — and still is ahead of anyone today in her age range. Britney Spears or Beyonce have impressive live performances, but their shows are straight-up concerts. Lady Gaga found inspiration in Madonna’s use of theatrics with the over-the-top Monster’s Ball spectacle. But they all owe the Material Girl for turning a concert into an experience.
ToD holds up now, more than 20 years later, and is one of the best music documentaries of all time. Blu-ray or not, it will grab you in the first few minutes and keep you for the next two hours. Try to resist.
The film benefits from a crisper picture but the black-and-white doc can only look so good — I never felt an omigosh thrill by the enhanced 1080P Hi-Def transfer. Where that works superbly, though, is during the concert sets, which are in color. Forget replaying that Super Bowl performance and click to the chapter where she opened up her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour with “Express Yourself.” You might even shed a tear.
As for sound, the remaster is a godsend. The bass lines are beautifully rich and not a note is missed in the 5.1 DTS Master Audio. Turn that sound bar up to let the music truly fill the room with the layers of music and instruments that come alive far more in this version. I forgot how powerful her voice was prior to her famous training for Evita, but the Blu-ray points out that live, she was a strong belter.
I’ve come to expect the Blu-ray product to come with hours of extra features, but we only get theatrical trailers. The tour itself is something of a rarity to see digitally save for the Grammy-winning Laserdisc, so the selfish part of me wishes they threw that on here as well. But the glimpses of her then only made me long for a strong, confident Madonna that led the way rather than now where she’s starting to follow the pack.
To see Madonna now as a mother, divorcee, a legend, there have been chinks in her armor that were nowhere to be found at this point of her career. To know where she was heading while watching this is a glorious mindfuck considering all that she wanted then (motherhood, love) and knowing where she would end up.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 27, 2012.