Crossroads appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Much of the time, the picture seemed very good, but it displayed a few more concerns than I’d expect for such a recent film.
Sharpness appeared positive. The image always remained nicely crisp and well defined throughout the movie. I saw no instances of softness or fuzziness during this detailed presentation. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no problems, but I did notice some light edge enhancement at times. In regard to print flaws, a few low-light sequences appeared grainier than usual, and I also noticed a few bits of grit.
Colors usually looked fairly solid, as the film’s naturalistic palette came across with reasonable depth and accuracy. On a few occasions, however, I felt the hues seemed somewhat too heavy and dense. Still, the tones generally were fine. Black levels appeared pretty dark and solid, but shadow detail was a little erratic. Some low-light scenes seemed somewhat murky. None of these issues ever became a big problem, but I still felt that a brand-new flick shouldn’t show even these small concerns, so Crossroads earned a good but not great “B” for picture.
In regard to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Crossroads, it also received a “B”, mostly due to a lack of scope. For the most part, the soundfield seemed pretty lackluster, which I must admit I expected for this kind of film. The mix maintained a general emphasis on the forward channels. They offered good stereo presence for the music and also created a decent sense of ambience, but they rarely contributed more than that. Sometimes cars would pan from one side to the other, but usually the different channels stuck with vague environmental material. The club scene helped bring the surrounds to life briefly, but otherwise, the rear speakers did little more than vaguely reinforce effects and music.
Audio quality appeared generally positive. Speech remained natural and warm throughout the film; I discerned no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects played a small role in the film but they seemed accurate and clean at all times; I detected no signs of distortion or other problems. Music also appeared clear and bright, but low-end response seemed somewhat wimpy. The tunes didn’t pack the bass punch I expected; those elements sounded acceptable but failed to present much force. Ultimately, the audio for Crossroads worked well enough to earn a “B” but it didn’t inspire much passion.
This “Special Collector’s Edition” of Crossroads packs a bunch of extras. We start with an audio commentary from director Tamra Davis, writer Shonda Rhimes, and producer Ann Carli, all of whom sat together for this running, screen-specific track. While it offered some good moments, overall I thought the track seemed fairly mediocre. On the positive side, the participants provided a reasonable amount of useful information about the production. They discussed the genesis of the project as well as the cast, locations, editorial and screenwriting decisions, and a variety of entertaining anecdotes.
Unfortunately, a moderate number of gaps harmed the chat, and the speakers too often degenerated into bland praise. Too often, they told us how great everyone was and how much fun everything was. A little of this goes a long way, and they offered far too much of that sort of happy talk. The three women still seemed genial and likable, and I found the commentary to seem acceptably entertaining, but it remained average as a whole.
Although Britney didn’t appear in a traditional audio commentary, the DVD does include something called Break Through Britney. This operates along a modified “Pop-Up Video” format. If you activate this feature, Britney occasionally appeared and related some details related to her participation in the film.
Make that very occasionally, as in almost never. We see Britney a handful of times at best, and these show up sporadically throughout the film. It becomes very frustrating and not just because we get so few comments from her. Even when Britney does remark, her statements seem completely banal. She tells us how much fun everyone was and how much she enjoyed making the film. The only moderately interesting stories she tells - about a motorcycle ride with Dan Aykroyd and her kissing scene faux pas - already appear in the other audio commentary, so Britney provides absolutely no new and interesting information. If you read another review that states “Break Through Britney” is anything other than dull and useless, don’t believe them - I seriously doubt anyone who praises this feature actually sat through the whole thing.
Within the “Featurettes” domain, we get three pieces. The longest of these, The Making of Crossroads: 40 Days with Britney runs 25 minutes and 32 seconds. It presents a combination of film snippets, shots from the set, and sound bites with participants. In the latter category, we hear from director Davis, writer Rimes, producer Carli, music supervisor Dan Carlin, and actors Spears, Zoë Saldana, Taryn Manning, Anson Mount, Dan Aykroyd, Kim Cattrall, and Justin Long.
As with many of the DVD’s extras, the quality of “Days” will depend on the viewer’s age level. For those in the target audience, it seems like a fun piece. We hear basic notes about the film and the characters and see lots of goofy footage from the set. The program offers little real information, though, and it doesn’t present the “video diary” that it purports to provide. Younger viewers will probably like it a lot, but others may find it boring. Probably the most compelling segment comes during the end credits, when we see a raw version of Britney’s “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” when first performed with Mount’s character.
An unusual “how to” program, Taryn’s T-Shirts runs 11 minutes and 45 seconds. Hosted by actress Taryn Manning and clothing designer Jackie Dennis, we watch them as they teach us how to make the special T-shirts from the “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” segment. Since I doubt I’d look good in a spangly, cut-off T, I found this piece less than useful, but I thought it was a creative effort that should be fun for kids.
First In Line: Inside the Crossroads Premiere gives us a seven-minute and 15-second look at life behind the velvet rope. It follows actress Zoë Saldana as she and her family head to the LA premiere, and we get Saldana’s point of view as she goes through the various events. It sounds more interesting than it is, for it presents little insight into the process. Mainly it’s “we’re in a limo!!!” and the like. Again, younger viewers might enjoy it, but the program seemed uninformative to me.
More useful were the Deleted Scenes With On-Camera Introductions By Director Tamra Davis. This running program lasts 11 minutes and 46 seconds and packs in a few different segments. We start with actual excised scenes, and the last few minutes include outtakes. The deleted pieces did little for me, but some of the outtakes were fairly entertaining. We see a lot of Justin Long adlibs, and we also watch a particularly goofy extra from one scene. This stuff’s more compelling than anything in the final film!
As for Davis’ introductions, she nicely sets up the clips. She lets us know where they would have come in the movie, and she provides some production notes about them. More importantly, she clearly tells us why they didn’t make the film.
Next we find two of Britney’s Music Videos. The better song and the better video, “Overprotected” (The Darkchild Remix) starts as a theme piece, as Britney watches a TV report about her “scandalous” outfits. This concept returns at the end, but in between, she just lip-synchs and dances. She looks very hot as she does this, so I shan’t complain.
I felt less entertained by the second video, “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”. A dull ballad, the video combines shots of Brit on some desert cliffs with scenes from the movie. It’s a fairly bland piece.
Curiously placed in the second screen of supplements, we find Britney’s DVD Welcome. It lasts a whopping 10 seconds as Brit tells us a) she enjoyed making the film, and b) she hopes we’ll like the disc. This feature also appears at the start of “Break Through Britney”, so it’s redundant if you’ve already watched the movie that way.
Sing Along With Britney lets you perform with two songs. “Overprotected” uses outtakes from the film and provides all of Britney’s original song; you just croon on top of her vocals. However, “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” goes for a truer Karaoke feels. Some back-up singing appears, but you’re on your own for the main vocals.
We get more of “Not Yet a Woman” in the Edit Your Own Music Video workshop. This lets you rearrange three parts of that video in any order you choose, though you can’t repeat clips; you can’t run snippet one three times in a row. It’s simplistic but moderately entertaining.
In the Photo Gallery, we get a collection of stills. This area includes 65 shots in all. Most of these provide simple publicity images from the film, though the last handful of them offer some behind the scenes pictures.
Inside the Trailers and TV Spots domain, we find a few different clips. We get the domestic theatrical trailer, the international theatrical teaser trailer, and some MTV promos. The latter are the most interesting. Each of the four focuses on a different character - Lucy, Kit, Mimi and Ben - and includes material unique to these pieces. They’re not terribly compelling, but at least they’re different.
Unfortunately, Crossroads seems neither compelling nor different. It offers a bland and lifeless little teen “coming of age” story that appears competent at best and inane at worst. The DVD features fairly good picture and sound along with a pretty nice roster of extras. Fans within the pre-teen girl target audience will likely enjoy this set very much, though some adult content may mean that parents want to give it a look first to make sure it’s suitable for their kids. For anyone outside of Britney’s main demographic, skip this dud.