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Madonna - Video Collection 1993-99

review by Ren C.

 

Starring: Madonna

Studio: Warner/Reprise

Run Time: 68 minutes

Retail Price: $24.99

Specs: 1.33:1 Standard, PCM English Stereo

Say what you want about Madonna, but don't expect to be saying something original. The fact of the matter is that probably everything that can be said about Madonna has been said. I refer to her as "The Mother of Invention", and now almost the den mother of pop music. Where would Christina and Britney, and probably Mariah for that matter, be today without Madonna having blazed the trail? Whether you love her or hate her, she does what she does like no one else, because no one else is Madonna.

This video presents a selection of Madonna's videos from 1993-1999. I say a selection, because there are videos that are definitely missed here. The collection was originally supposed to be called 1992-1999, but "Erotica" was removed, for reasons never really made clear. Although, with a video like "Erotica" I think that we can safely guess.

Regardless, this is a very nice sampling of what the Queen Diva has done over the last ten years or so. We start with "Bad Girl", a strange song, which sounds almost autobiographical. The video features Christopher Walken, which automatically earns it bonus points with me. Definitely not so much a video as a mini-movie, it showcases Madonna's acting skills in a nice context. Next up is "Fever", which is anÉ. interesting cover, to say the least. I'm not exactly sure what Madonna was trying to accomplish with this video, but it's definitely a different video from the norm.

The next video is "Rain", which is another in the growing line of "Madonna sits in a room and sings while looking disinterested" videos. "Secret" has Madonna looking slightly more interested, and the song is more upbeat and involving than "Rain" which always helps. "Take a Bow", for whatever reason, has annoyed me ever since it was first released in 1995. The video looks like a three-minute audition video for "Evita", and the song is another very maudlin ballad that should be below Madonna. I want my Madonna controversial, not adult contemporary.

"Bedtime Story" is one of the most expensive videos ever made, and definitely one of the most bizarre. I can only wonder about the concept meeting for this video. Picture a sci-fi movie on acid, and you'd be on the right track. "Human Nature" is vintage Madonna, as she assumes the role of a dominatrix, and does what she does within the confines of a completely white room. Definitely a step in the right direction. "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" is another Madonna-in-a-room video as she wanders what appears to be a deserted art gallery, looking forlorn.

The topic then changes to five videos from Madonna's 1998 release, "Ray of Light", which is widely regarded as one of her best. "Frozen" was the initial video release which features Madonna, in a blue hue this time doing such things as falling onto the ground, shattering, then turning into a flock of birds. Definitely another video that must be seen to be believed. Next is the video that won armloads of awards, "Ray Of Light", which is essentially a day in the life of Madonna. On way too much caffeine. "Drowned World/Substitute For Love", if I'm correct, was never premiered in the U.S., and is a nice addition to the disc, if a fairly somber video, to match the mood of the song. "The Power of Good-Bye" is Madonna breaking up with her man du jour, and then walking along the beach, looking forlorn. "Nothing Really Matters" is definitely a departure, although maybe Madonna dresses up as a geisha in her spare time, and if so, who am I to judge. Again, I have to wonder about the concept meeting for this one.

The final video is unquestionably my favorite Madonna song and video from the last few years, "Beautiful Stranger" from the Austin Powers: Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack. Madonna does what she does best in this video, flaunts her sexuality, and looks enticing to Mike Myers. The song is great as well, so really nothing for me to complain about here.

There are definitely a bunch of videos that were left off here including "You'll See", "Deeper and Deeper" and "This Used to be my Playground". Obviously some were licensing decisions, and others were quality decisions. As it stands, the collection never claims to be authoritative, and it serves as a good sampler for the last ten years of Madonna-mania.

Full-screen for the majority here, with the exception of "Bad Girl", "Bedtime Story", "Power of Good-Bye" and "Beautiful Stranger". The videos, all of which are less than a decade old, look very good. They're certainly not as good as the latest Hollywood blockbuster, but as far as music video standards go, they are definitely up to par.

The sound is strictly stereo here, no 5.1 to be found. These are certainly not heavy bass-filled songs, but it would have been nice to see how "Ray of Light" could test the system. The sound is clear and crisp, and really very nice considering the circumstances.

Absolutely nothing. No subtitles, no behind-the-scenes, nothing. Even the menus are static and boring. Considering this is Madonna we're dealing with, I would have expected a lot more. Even the simple presence of subtitles would have made me happy, but alas, nowhere to be found.

This is definitely not the best Madonna collection available. That honor goes to the initial video collection, "Madonna-the Immaculate Collection", both in terms of historical relevance and sheer entertainment value. With the exception of the menus and slightly better video and sound quality, this very easily could have been a VHS. There really is nothing to fuel this purchase for anyone but die-hard Madonna fans, or those that particularly enjoyed her 90s work. The large amount of ballads, complete lack of features and inability to distinguish itself in any way don't merit the purchase price. If around ten dollars, consider it, otherwise, recommendation to avoid unless you're a Madonna completist.

(3/5, NOT included in final score)

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(2/5, NOT an average)

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