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Warner Home Video presents
Janet: Live in Hawaii (2002)

"I'm getting a little lonely up here..."
- Janet

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: September 25, 2002

Stars: Janet, Ms. Jackson If You're Nasty
Other Stars: Backup Dancers, Missy Elliot
Director: Janet Jackson, Shawnette Heard

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (suggestive lyrics and dancing, some language, and brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:54m:38s
Release Date: September 03, 2002
UPC: 085393765828
Genre: pop

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BB-A- C-

DVD Review

When Janet Jackson was born in 1966, her brothers were already enjoying the spoils of fame, having conquered Motown Records and the airwaves as the Jackson Five. Brother Michael broke from the group in the mid-1970s, eventually finding cult success with a few obscure releases (Thriller and Bad are worth tracking down, if you can locate them). Janet eventually carved out her own niche in the famous family as a child actress on Good Times and Diff'rent Strokes before following in the footsteps of her siblings and pursuing a career in the music business. Duh.

All facetiousness aside, if you've listened to pop radio at all in the last 20 years, you're familiar with Janet's music. She's released seven albums; most of them have been massively successful, and even the less popular managed to generate a hit single or two. In the last five years, she's even eclipsed Michael, with her most recent album, All for You, outselling his (Invincible) by a wide margin. (Which of them has undergone more plastic surgery is, of course, still up for debate. At least Janet's nose isn't falling off.)

Janet has long been instrumental in planning her live shows, consulting on everything from the choreography to the costumes to the sets, overcoming any deficiencies in her somewhat airy, sweet voice with aggressive staging and a party atmosphere. After her quite successful tour for The Velvet Rope, Janet again works as much backstage as on-stage with her 2001 show All for You. Elaborate sets (the performance begins with the singer and a cadre of backup dancers descending from 50 feet in the air on metallic platforms; another set piece features a regrettable "fantasyland" atmosphere), frequent costume changes, explosive choreography, and a lewd lap-dance (involving a lucky male fan strapped to a chair) make this her most extravagant show yet.

Live in Hawaii originally aired live on HBO. Over the course of two hours, Janet performs 26 songs, most of them top hits from throughout her career (though the emphasis is, obviously, on material from the most recent release). All of my favorites are included, though I can't say I exactly celebrate her entire catalog. Several of her older hits have been collected into medleys, complete with unique sets (like the aforementioned "fantasy" sequence, following from the song Runaway). Concert footage is captured nicely, with alternating close-ups and long shots that give the choreography room to breathe. Also welcome are the occasional behind-the-scenes moments, where we get to she just how quickly you can change clothes when four people are helping you strip—it's like a NASCAR pit stop.

Live in Hawaii includes the following songs:

Come On Get Up
You Ain't Right
All for You
Love Will Never Do (Without You)
Trust a Try
Come Back to Me
Let's Wait a While
Escape Medley: Runaway/Miss You Much/When I Think of You/Escapade
Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think this Song is About You)
Got 'til it's Gone
That's the Way Love Goes
Nasty Medley: What Have You Done for Me Lately/Control/Nasty
Would You Mind
Black Cat
Rhythm Nation
Doesn't Really Matter
Someone to Call My Lover
Together Again

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The source for this transfer looks to be a video master, and as a result, it isn't quite as sharp as it could be, but the results are still fairly good. Colors are a bit unstable, with some of the bright set backgrounds showing some bloom. Black level is only fair, with many shots looking slightly muddy and indistinct. On the plus side, the image is pretty sharp during close-ups, though fine detail is difficult to make out in long shots of the choreography. Overall, the DVD presentation is fine, but limited by the source material.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is offered in both DD 4.1 and DTS mixes. Both provide an excellent, realistic concert experience. The front soundstage is nice and wide, with Janet's vocals anchored in the center channel and the instrumentation and back-ups singers mixed to the right and left mains. The surrounds provide some support for the songs as well, and to handle the crowd response. LFE adds a much needed kick to the dance beats.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Music/Song Access with 21 cues and remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
  2. Five performances of Would You Mind
Extras Review: Janet's Hawaii show was part of the promotion of her album All for You, and she discusses the writing and producing of that record in the preciously titled Janet Speaks All for You. The featurette runs 10 minutes, and Janet's comments on each of the songs are intercut with footage from either their respective music videos or their live performances from Live in Hawaii. Also included is a bit of behind-the-scenes tour footage and brief backstage antics.

An animated photo gallery runs three minutes, set to the songs Again and Come Back to Me. And finally, in the category of "almost too embarrassing to watch," we have five different live performances of the song Would You Mind. When Janet performs this song (clad in skin-tight leather), she brings a man from the audience on stage and has him strapped to a weird rotating, reclining chair. Once they are all belted in, she begins the song, one of her famous raunchy ballads (seriously, this one is wash-your-ears-out-with-bleach explicit), whilst treating the helpless guy to an obscene lab dance. The guys' reactions to this are hilarious, yet at the same time so pathetic they are difficult to watch. Most don't seem to deal well with being dry-humped by their fantasy woman on stage, that's for sure. And all of them seem to think they'll win her adoration by shouting "I love you SO MUCH!" The five clips are all fairly similar, but you can make a game out of it by trying to spot which guys are less successful at... er... containing themselves. Yes, that earns a big "ew."

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Janet's record sales might be falling in the age of Britney and N'Sync, but she proves herself far more talented than the flash-in-the-pan pop artists she influenced with this entertaining live show. Fans will certainly enjoy the career-spanning selection of music, and the staging is varied enough to keep things visually interesting as well.


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