A Star Is Born: Encore Edition                     review by Bobby Blakey

I have been hearing about Bradley Coopers attempt to once again remake A Star Is Born for some time. I have never been a big fan of the story especially the Streisand version as I am just not a fan. The same can be said for Lady Gaga where I recognize both of their amazing talents as singers, but just not an overall fan of either. So I was surprised that I was actually interested in seeing this after the first trailer and with a great supporting cast including Sam Elliott, Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay, Dave Chappelle, Anthony Ramos involved could it actually bring something special to the story or will it fail to hit any of the notes?

A Star Is Born follows seasoned musician Jackson Maine who discovers-and falls in love with-struggling artist Ally. She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally's career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons. I could not have been more wrong on my thoughts regarding Gaga in this film or anything else involved in it as it is a work of brilliance. Cooper has crafted a film that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once in the best way possible.

Usually I save recommending films like the bigger CGI epic flicks for the specific screen and sound formats, but Cooper brilliantly shot this film like you are there at a concert anytime there is a performance. These other formats are fully utilized with some amazing sound and visual to go along with the greatness this film has to offer so you will want to crank up that home theater system for the full effect. I wasn’t surprised by the range of Cooper’s performance, but he still manages to offer up a character you want to like, but breaks your heart at every turn. His arc packs a punch and manages to hit every emotional available making it almost exhausting to watch in the best way possible. As good as Cooper is in every way, Gaga not only stands toe to toe with him she manages to show case a true presence on screen.

It’s an interesting role for Gaga to take on and really the harder of the two in my opinion as she is not only dealing with the emotions of rising stardom and a dream possibly being fulfilled along with falling in love, but also has to bear theburden of his vices that are tearing him apart. They are magic together and Gag executes her role to perfection making you root for her, yell at her for putting up with stuff and even getting irritated when she loses her own way at times. While this is a great film in every aspect it is a major downer as well that will no doubt slap you right in every emotion you have.

All the supporting cast are great as well with Clay stepping in another dramatic role and really knocking it out of the park. The always great Sam Elliott steals the screen but there is one specific unspoken sequence that just showcases more of his brilliance as an actor. Dave Chappelle brings an wisdom to his role that is needed and great to watch with him getting to stretch outside of his comedic world. While all of these guys roles are not overly big each of them is just as important to the overall film and they make the film better in every way.

All of the music is great which surprised me even more since it is not really my style of music. The first time Gaga steps on the big stage is easily one of the most powerful performances of the film musically because you can feel her passion and emotions behind every word. This is even more important for some issues later in the film with some of the music which is just another impressive feat to her overall performance. Cooper was impressive as well making you believe that he is the star he is playing in the film in every way possible.I really loved this film and so glad it has been getting its much deserved recognition during awards season although I think Cooper has been robbed with the lack of an Directing Oscar nomination.

With this new version essentially being an extended cut I was hoping it might bring more to the already great film. On some level it does with some added musical moments and extended ones, but the film was so perfect as is it failed to really bring more to the table for me. Make no mistake it was great seeing the additions and they do add to some of the scenes, but also take away from the effectiveness of others. If you love the film then it is worthy of replacing the first version as it offers up both takes of the film. The  film contains extended performances of such songs as opener "Black Eyes," "Alibi," and Lady Gaga's Ally in her impromptu a cappella performance of "Shallow," never-before-seen footage of Ally singing to Jack "Is That Alright?" in the wedding sequence, Jack in his studio singing "Too Far Gone," Jack and Ally writing a new song together, entitled "Clover," and much more, totaling nearly 12 additional minutes. 

Tune up your guitar and get ready to step onto the stage once again with A Star Is Born Encore Edition available now on Blu-ray Combo Pack from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

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