Do you remember when Justin Bieber's documentary 'Never Say Never' came out and it earned all sorts of great reviews and positive buzz from fans and haters alike? I was in disbelief. Not liking that kid, I never gave it a shot. When Katy Perry's similar concert documentary 'Part of Me' screened for press, I was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict, but my fellow press friends were once again giving good praises to a film featuring a pop star they didn't particularly care for. Perhaps because Perry is a gorgeous cleavage-bearing female, I was more willing to give her documentary a chance than that of the prepubescent teenage Bieber. Lo and behold, I have to agree with the masses. Like Perry's music and persona or not, her documentary is fantastic.
Do you remember when I reviewed Lady Gaga's Best Buy exclusive concert Blu-ray 'The Monster Ball Tour' last December? Not being gaga over Gaga, I was surprised by how inspirational she was for her audience. Calling her outcast audience "monsters," she encouraged them to stand strong and keep their chins up through her vulgar dialog and content – enough so that the disc warranted a "parental advisory" warning on the case. I didn't know that Katy Perry carries this same inspirational message with her. The only difference is Perry's lack of vulgarity and crude content. She keeps the cleavage and tight clothes and promotes being whoever you are – especially with songs like "I Kissed A Girl" – but keeps it family-friendly, hence the PG rating of 'Part of Me.'
Like Bieber's documentary, 'Part of Me' is a hybrid concert/behind-the-scenes/biography. It opens with video testimonials of random people across the globe explaining how Perry and her music have inspired them and helped them through life's toughest trials, how they've come to stand strong while fighting for acceptance. After the intro videos and some concert footage, we are introduced to the real Katy and see that she is who she says she is - a total nerd. Often appearing in front of the camera without a lick of make-up, we are given her backstory. We learn of her uber-religious upbringing, her mild rebellion for the sake of self-discovery and the long and grueling road she walked in pursuit of her career. (She was far from an overnight success.) For me, not knowing much about her backstory, this segment was especially interesting – hearing her first raw recordings as an alternative artist, learning about her musical influences and getting first-hand accounts of her dealings with the several music labels that she was at once time or another signed with. We meet her family, her friends and her peers. We see the loyalty and whole-hearted devotion that she has to them.
One area I expected this documentary to shy away from was her relationship with her now ex-husband, British comic and actor Russell Brand. Because the drama surrounding her divorce occurred during the shoot, it would be impossible to compile the footage of this film without including that part of the story. During the year-long worldwide California Dreams tour, Perry was performing almost non-stop – yet she would fly out with frequency to meet Brand wherever he was. Even if you didn't know the outcome of their marriage, from the way that he handles the distance between them, you would presume that it was going to end in failure. Brand rarely traveled to be with her during her tour; she always had to fly out to him. It's obvious that she was head-over-heels in love with him and devoted to him. The second half of the film has some heartbreaking content when you see her trying to cope with the failure of their marriage. If she was inspirational to her fans prior to this movie, I can see this segment of the film only making her more so.
Am I a fan of Katy Perry? Yes. Am I a fan of her music? Not so much. (If she'd go back to her original alternative sound, I might be.) I have the utmost respect for her for being the exact same person off-stage as she is on-stage. She is a great business leader, a great performer and an even better person. The sole purpose of this documentary is to show that part of her to the world – and it comes across clearly and genuinely. It's hard to recommend a documentary about an artist to someone who doesn't care for said artist, but hopefully the positive word-of-mouth can sway you – as it did me – to give Katy Perry and 'Part of Me' a chance.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This reviews applies to the 2D version of 'Part of Me,' which also includes a DVD copy and codes for both an Ultraviolet and Digital Copy. The Blu-ray is a region-free BD-50. The Blu-ray and DVD are housed in a two-disc blue Elite keepcase. Printed on the front cover are logos that cite the film for being critically acclaimed by Rotten Tomatoes and CinemaScore. The artwork featuring Perry singing into a mirror is identical to that of the movie poster. Upon inserting the disc, there's an unskippable Paramount vanity reel and a skippable trailer for 'Fun Size.' The menu itself features a static image set to one of Perry's recent singles.
'Part of Me' has been given a strong 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode and is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The ratio and quality tend to jump around from time to time, but that's only because it's a documentary composed of footage from all different types of sources. 90 percent of it comes from the documentary crew, so it's always on the great side. The other 10 percent is what you'd expect from cell phone fan videos and old family films.
The first two things that caught my visual attention were the details and the colors. The quality is so crisp and clear that you can see anything and everything – from the pores and tiniest hairs on Perry's face to feather strands and textures of her costumes. When Perry sprays her audience with a foam bubble blaster, you can see each individual speck flying through the air. The crews' footage is brilliant. The colorization is so fantasy-like that it's reminiscent of a hallucination or a dream. Perry's bold and colorful wigs, costumes and sets explode with vibrancy.
Considering how often the cameras shift to different environments – on-stage, off-stage, backstage, indoors, outdoors, bright lighting, dim lighting – the amount of consistency is impressive. Black levels are always deep and rich. Color saturation never varies. On a few occasions in super dim lighting, the contrast is slightly abnormal just to make the images easier to make out.
Edge enhancement and DNR are not applied and compression flaws rarely arise. Some shots at audience members during concert performances reveal light noise. Artifacts can be seen in fan videos, but probably because they were pulled from YouTube or a non-HD source. There are many fades into and out of black, but only one warrants banding (around the 76-minute mark).
All in all, this is a pretty spectacular disk.
'Part of Me' is presented with an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is absolutely flawless. No joke – even though I don't care for the Katy Perry's music, 'Part of Me' is my new musical demo disc. The concert bits are phenomenal, so good that I want this audio team to produce ever concert Blu-ray in the future. Every channel is completely active. Basses are low and powerful. If only every concert disc was mixed this dynamically.
The intro to the film features some exemplary concert sound, but a few minutes later we get an opening credits sequence that astonished me. Glittery lights and objects fly off and on the screen. Those on-screen movements warrant amazing seamless imaging that's second to none.
The background soundtrack consists of Perry's tracks and original scoring. Be it underlying interview dialog or a random non-concert clip, the music is always well spread throughout the channels, adding a layer of depth to the on-screen content.
The last thing I expected from a documentary about an artist whose music I don't care for is flawless audio, but there's no denying how great this film sounds.
Please note that every special feature on this disc – being a Blu-ray exclusive or not – is basically a deleted scene. I can see why each of them was cut, with the exception of one. I wish that one of these special features would have remained in the final cut. You'll have to read on to find out which it is and why.
You don't have to be a fan of Katy Perry or her music to enjoy 'Part of Me.' This is a well-made documentary that shows how hard one person has worked to make her career a success. It also shows how hard she worked on her uneven marriage, which we all know resulted in divorce. Despite the marital devastation, she managed to work through it and not cancel a single show in her tour. If Katy Perry was inspirational prior to this film, she is only even more so now. The film itself isn't the only surprisingly strong aspect of 'Part of Me,' as the Blu-ray itself is constructed strongly. The video quality is near-perfect and the audio quality is perfect. If only every concert Blu-ray's audio was mixed this well. There are nearly 40 minutes of special features (all of which are basically deleted/extended scenes) to keep the die-hard fans happy – especially with two full concert performances. As much as I didn't care about Katy Perry or her music before seeing 'Part of Me,' I'm surprised by how much I like her now. She's a great person who has worked very hard to get to where she is. She wasn't an overnight success due to marketing. She is the exact same person off stage as she is on stage. She's devoted and loyal. These are the things that I admire about her and it's nice to learn them via a very well-made film placed almost perfectly on Blu-ray.