Showgirls appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Very few problems manifested themselves during this consistently fine transfer.
Almost without exception, the image presented strong sharpness. A few shots looked slightly soft, but those didn’t occur more than a couple of times. Instead, the movie almost always appeared concise and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I also saw no problems with edge enhancement. As for print flaws, the film demonstrated a couple of speckles but that was it, as the movie almost always came across as clean and fresh.
Colors generally seemed wonderfully rich and deep, with excellent saturation and few signs of problems. The only concerns occurred during the fairly frequent scenes that depict colored lighting. At times, these appeared a bit noisy and hazy. It's not a terrible concern but it's a slight distraction nonetheless. Black levels were thoroughly dense and dark, and shadow detail appeared nicely opaque but never overly thick. The minor concerns I mentioned caused me some indecision when I needed to give the image a grade, but I felt it looked too strong too much of the time to knock it below an “A-“.
I also felt positively about the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Showgirls. The soundfield seemed terrifically involving throughout virtually the entire film. In quieter moments, ambient effects helped reinforce the mood, but the best parts were during the louder scenes; that was when the track really kicked into high gear. Primarily these occurred during the many segments that featured music. Between nightclubs, parties, and the Vegas shows themselves, loud music was a near-constant partner in this movie, and the soundtrack helped blast it with "you are there" realism. Not only did the songs fly from all five channels, but also they present a quality that made them seem natural. The audio didn't engulf the listener randomly but instead created an atmosphere that resembled the dynamics of the depicted venues, so that music in a club had the boomy echo of audio in an actual club. It all worked very well.
Quality was also strong. Dialogue consistently seemed pretty natural and warm, with no intelligibility issues. I detected a slight bit of distortion from the speech at times, but this seemed mild. Effects were crisp and clear and appeared nicely realistic. Music was bright and bold and always sounded appropriate for the on-screen setting.
Bass seemed positive, though I must admit it's a minor disappointment that it didn't use the LFE channel. This usually didn’t cause any concerns, but I thought some elements - especially rock music - lacked great depth. Most of the mix featured fine bass, but it could have been warmer at times. Nonetheless, the track presented a lively presence that fared nicely.
How did the picture and audio of this release compare to those of the prior DVD? The audio seemed identical, as I noticed no differences between the two discs’ Dolby Digital tracks. However, the new transfer demonstrated improvements over the old non-anamorphic one. This one looked tighter and lacked the shimmering and jaggies of the earlier visuals. Much of the first disc held up well, but the new version offered a noticeable improvement.
This “VIP Edition” of Showgirls also expands on the extras of the original DVD, though it fails to present the kind of stuffed package fans would like. We start with an audio commentary from Showgirls expert David Schmader, who provides a running, screen-specific chat. Apparently Schmader runs annotated screenings of the flick during which he chats about it as it proceeds. I guess he saves the good material for the paying customers, as his commentary seems less than scintillating.
Expect almost no information about the film’s creation. Schmader tosses out a handful of remarks about some cut sequences as well as Verhoeven’s motivation and that’s about it. Otherwise he simply snickers at the movie and makes fun of it. That’d be fine if he offered more entertaining statements. His cracks tend to be fairly lame and obvious, and he also fails to speak much of the time. Schmader remains silent during the vast majority of the film. I don’t know if that’s good or bad; since what he says seems so pointless, I can’t imagine this painful commentary would fare better if he talked more frequently. Anyway, skip this dud unless you can’t live without a screening of Showgirls narrated by a mostly unfunny MST3K wannabe.
We also find a brief video commentary from some strippers at the Scores nightclub. They chat solely during the main scene at the strip club; they first pop up at the 20:40 mark and they appear sporadically until 32:40. They watch the flick and comment on the reality of the strip scenes as well as their own experiences. An interesting tidbit or two shows up, but most of their remarks seem banal.
Another viewing option appears via a trivia track. With this activated, little blurbs pop up throughout the movie. They concentrate on facts connected to different parts of the film like Vegas and its shows as well as notes about the movie and its participants. These incorporate some nice tidbits about the flick and even toss in occasional catty comments from those involved as well as from the track’s writers. The track balances information about the movie and external factors to become a fun and useful discussion, and it’s one of the better trivia tracks I’ve seen. It certainly outdoes the silly audio commentary; at least when this one jabs the film, it does so in clever and amusing ways.
More activity from the Scores dancers comes from a Lap-Dance Tutorial. In this four-minute and 55-second featurette, two dancers tell us the methods they use to provide good lap dances. Their notes come accompanied by snippets from the film and some shots of the two Scores dancers in action. It’s a pretty silly extra.
The DVD presents A Showgirls Diary. This offers four featurettes that each concentrates on different scenes. They run between two minutes, eight seconds and three minutes, 25 seconds for a total of 10 minutes, 46 seconds of footage. They incorporate shots of director Paul Verhoeven’s script - annotated with little drawings - plus movie snippets and footage from the set. These seem moderately interesting and that’s about it; the material from the shoot is fun, but we don’t get a lot of it.
In addition to the flick’s theatrical trailer, we find some ads in Other Great MGM Releases. This includes a general promo called “MGM Means Great Movies” and specific trailers for The Great Escape and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
That concludes the disc-based supplements, but the “VIP Edition” packs a number of physical extras. The set includes a Showgirls-branded pack of playing cards and a pair of Showgirls shot glasses. What at first glance appears to be a topless poster of Berkley turns out to be a Pin the Pasties on the Showgirl game; the set also tosses in a mask and the necessary tassels. Finally, six picture cards offer glossy photos from the film plus instructions for some “non-alcoholic” drinking games and a few “fun facts” about Showgirls. These components seem cute and that’s all.
I hate to have to pan a movie that provides a memorable dry-hump scene, but I'm afraid I must. Showgirls is a few minutes of campy fun surrounded by long stretches of glossy boredom. The DVD offers very strong picture and sound, and it tosses in an elaborate package with some fairly mediocre extras.
If you’ve never seen Showgirls and want to experience its horrors for yourself, go with a rental or the old DVD; it’s much cheaper. If you’re an already-established fan, should you go with this “VIP Edition”? Yeah, but only if you’re a really dedicated partisan. The improved transfer is a plus, but the supplements don’t add enough to merit the additional money. It’s a cute set and I give MGM credit for attempting something different, but there’s little here to justify the costs.
To rate this film visit the original review of SHOWGIRLS