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It was only a matter of time before Britney Spears spread her wings and branched out into the world of movies. The pop princess featured in commercials, TV shows and even computer games, so it was a logical progression to the big screen. Her first role came with the road movie Crossroads, which was released earlier this year. Not surprisingly, the film went on to become a huge success, earning over five million pounds alone in the UK. A lot of the credit has to go to Miss Spears, as without her presence the movie would have earned only a small percentage of that. When released the film received mixed reviews with younger audiences enjoying it, while the more cynical movie-goer criticised it for lack of plot. Now its time for you to judge for yourself.

Crossroads
Movie
The premise of Crossroads is pretty simple. The movie centres around three girls, Lucy (Britney Spears), Kit (Zoe Saldana) and Mimi (Taryn Manning). When the girls were younger they made a pact to bury items which symbolised their dreams, and then re-unite at their high school graduation prom to dig up the treasures. In principal it sounded like a good idea, but the girls grew apart, and when the prom night arrives they grudgingly meet up to honour the pact. Each girl realises that her dreams have not come true and they all decide to leave their hometown with the aim of enhancing their lives.

Mimi organises the trip as she intends to audition for a band in Los Angeles and invites the other girls along to keep her company. Lucy sees the trip as an ideal opportunity to visit her mother and rebuild their relationship. Lucy’s mother abandoned her when she was small, and they have not seen each other since. Lucy’s dad has never allowed her to contact her mother, so she decides to meet her without his permission. Kit on the other hand sees the road trip as the perfect opportunity to visit her boyfriend who lives in Los Angeles. The couple are engaged and Kit wishes that she could see more of her fiancée, so the trip is too good an offer to turn down. All the girls need now is a driver! Mimi turns to her friend Ben (Anson Mount), who happens to have a cool convertible and is heading to Los Angeles as well.

At first the group find it hard to get along, but gradually with the help of music and fun, the girls start to rebuild their friendship, which has declined over the years. Several incidents put their friendships to the test, but they come through stronger than ever. Romance also ensues on the trip, which leaves one couple within the party with difficult decisions to make.  

Crossroads
On paper Crossroads looks like nothing more than an exercise to promote Britney Spears and target younger audiences. That’s exactly what it is, but surprisingly it works! Britney’s role in the film was bound to be heavily scrutinised, but surprisingly she comes out of the movie with credit. The role of Lucy was made for Britney with ample opportunities for singing and dancing. If truth be told, the character she played was not a demanding one, and Britney’s acting skill are not fully tested, but the pop princess definitely has a screen presence which I am sure will be utilised in movies in the future.    

The idea behind Crossroads may have been used a thousand times before, but somehow the makers of this movie have still managed to create a film which is fresh and entertaining. You may have your doubts about this movie. I know I certainly did, but Crossroads defies all logic and proves to be good Saturday night entertainment.

Video
Crossroads is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which is also anamorphic. The print is not perfect, but Momentum have managed to produce something worthy of a new release. The transfer does suffer at times from slight edge enhancements with compression artefacts also occasionally visible. The latter is probably more to do with the number of extras crammed onto the disc. For all the grumbling this transfer also has plenty of promising features which outweigh the negative ones. The colour saturation and flesh tones are superb with Britney’s beautiful face being show in all its wonder. Due to the movie mostly being filmed outside, there are a wide range of bright colours on display and the transfer deals with everything thrown at it with ease. Blacks levels are also solid, and there was very little sign of grain throughout. Sharpness and clarity are at the standards you would expect for a new release and there appeared to be no damage to the print. Overall this is a worthy effort.

Audio
The main audio track on this disc is the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. I wasn’t expecting much from the track as the film is essentially a dialogue driven movie. However, at times (mostly during Britney’s musical moments) the rears sprang to life and offered a little ambience. Dialogue is clear throughout and never appears to get lost in the mix. This is essentially a good soundtrack which surprisingly packs a punch. Also supplied on the disc is an English stereo soundtrack, but the French track contained on the region one release is mysteriously missing. In fact there are no foreign language tracks included with this release, and the only subtitles are in English.

Crossroads
Extras
It quickly became obvious while reviewing the extras on this disc that they were targeted at a young audience. Upon inserting the disc into my player I was treated to a ten second introduction by Britney herself. Britney briefly mentions how much fun she had filming, and then the menu starts up. Just a quick word about the root menu on this disc, which is quite impressive. In the background you can hear Britney’s music playing, and the menus are fully animated.

Within the special features section there are several extras which can be chosen. First up is the featurettes section which contains three featurettes. The first one is called First in line: Inside the Crossroads Premiere. This is primarily a six minute documentary filmed before and after the Los Angeles premiere for Crossroads.  Zoe Saldana, who plays Kit in the movie, leads the documentary and talks about what she is expecting from the evening. She is also accompanied by her parents who seem proud of their daughter. Zoe appeared nervous throughout the documentary, but that is not surprising as later on we learn that it is only her second premiere. I had always thought of Premieres as glitzy affairs, but this documentary made me realise that they are hard work as well. After the Premiere Zoe signs autographs for the fans and then goes off to the after-movie party. The second featurette is called The making of Crossroads 40 Days with Britney. This is a twenty five minute ‘behind the scenes’ look at the movie, which features Britney heavily. Any fans of the pop princess will love this feature as the viewer is given close up footage. The highlights of this featurette include clips shown from the first day of shooting and also footage from a conversation between Britney and her mother. Dan Akroyd also adds some comedy moments to the feature which are worth viewing. The final featurette is in my opinion the poorest, but will probably appeal to children under twelve. Taryn Manning, who plays Mimi, introduces the featurette. The viewer is shown how to make the t-shirts from the bar scene in the movie. This featurette reminded me a little of Blue Peter (a British children’s programme) and is really targeted at younger audiences.

Next up on the disc are seven deleted scenes. Tamra Davis (the director) introduces each scene and explains why they were cut from the movie. She supplies a lot of detail and probably one of the best introductions to deleted scenes that I have come across. However, the deleted scenes themselves are a little disappointing with the longest one lasting only about thirty seconds. The scenes vary from intimate scenes which were cut, through to examples of extras doing silly things in the background of shots. You don’t have the option of selecting a certain scene, so it is a case of forwarding through the ones you are not interested in. There are also a few outtakes shown towards the end of this section. If you find the introductions by the director interesting you may find it useful to listen to the audio commentary which is also supplied with this release. The commentary involves Ann Carli (Producer), Tamra Davis (Director) and Shonda Rhimes (Writer). I found the commentary to be quite entertaining with great detail provided by all the speakers. There is the usual backslapping, but overall it is definitely worth listening to.

Crossroads
The next couple of extras involve Britney herself. The first one is called Break Through Britney. This gives the viewer the option to activate small clips of Britney during the film. Whenever a star is shown the viewer can press the enter button on their remote and activate the clips which allow Britney to talk about her personal memories from the making of the film. For all you wannabee singers there is also an opportunity to sing along with Britney. Two songs are included which all you to see along in karaoke style. The two songs are Overprotected &

Also included is a section where you can edit your own music video, which gives you the chance to do so for I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman. It is possible to select the order in which shots are shown. Then there are TV Spots, which consist of clips from each of the three girl characters as well as from Ben. These last about thirty seconds each, which equates to just over two and half minutes in total.

The theatrical trailer can also be found on the disc. It starts by introducing the characters and sells the movie as a fun, adventurous movie about friendship. It lasts just over two minutes, and shows Britney singing as might be expected. Also included is a teaser trailer, which is very similar, with the same scenes shown. This lasts for just over a minute. If photo’s are your vice then you will be happy to find a gallery which shows twenty photos from the film. Finally there are music videos for Overprotected (Exclusive Darkchild Remix) and I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.

Overall
There is no doubt that this movie will sell bucket-loads of copies this Christmas. Fans of Britney will not hesitate in purchasing this disc, but many other people will be put off simply because they doubt her acting skills, or they are weary of what they imagine to be an unoriginal and poor storyline. I was literally dragged by my wife to see this movie at the cinema, but my reservations were quashed by the end. Crossroads is certainly not the greatest movie you will watch this year, but assessed purely for its entertainment and fun value, it is certainly a winner. I was convinced I would hate the movie, but found myself warming to the characters, and I ended up appreciating the movie for what it is, a fun no-brainer. Momentum have done an excellent job in producing a disc worthy of a special edition tag. The extras may be targeted at younger audiences but older viewers will also find enough content on this disc to keep them entertained. Audio and visual elements are also first class. Crossroads is a promising acting debut from Britney and I have no hesitation recommending this disc.


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