Jennifer Lopez was just another fledgling actress when she won the title role in Selena, and it made her a superstar. Lopez stars as Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, the Grammy-winning Mexican American singer whose life was cut short when she was assassinated by an employee and trusted friend. Closely controlled by Selena’s family, the film strives to be a celebration of the star’s life–it focuses not on her death, but on her childhood and her rise to fame.
Selena (played as a child by Rebecca Lee Meza) was nine years old when her father, Abraham (Edward James Olmos) realized his daughter’s talent. A former member of a band, Abraham is anxious to pass on his love music to his three children. He bought a bunch of secondhand instruments and taught them to play.
Through financial problems and more, the family stuck together. Years later, as they traveled from show to show, Selena’s fame was growing. The crowds were getting bigger and bigger; in the middle of it all, Selena finds herself falling in love with her guitarist. Abraham disapproves of the relationship at first; a protective, loving father, he doesn’t quite know how to let his daughter go.
Jennifer Lopez is perfectly cast as Selena, Conveying the energy and endless enthusiasm that exemplified the singer, while effectively copying her appearance and mannerisms. It’s apparent from clips of the real singer at the film’s conclusion that Lopez did a masterful job of recreating her character.
Edward James Olmos is a superb choice to portray Selena’s father. He breathes life into Abraham, a man who loves her daughter deeply, wants her to succeed, but has difficulty letting her grow up. In less expert hands his portrayal could be dismissed as tired, and even annoying. However, Olmos’ even-handed approach makes him relatable.
The supporting cast is no less capable. Constance Marie plays Selena’s mother, Marcela. Jackie Guerra and Jacob Vargas are her sister, Suzette, and brother, Abie. Jon Seda is Chris Perez, Selena’s husband. Lupe Ontiveros portrays Yolanda Saldivar, the the president of Selena’s fan club who eventually shot the singer to death. Becky Lee Meza, making her big screen debut, plays Selena at age nine. Meza is rough around the edges, but she has the kind of spunk one imagines Selena had as a girl her age.
Although I knew very little about Selena before watching this biopic, I found that the story was captivating enough to easily hold my interest for more than two hours. While telling the story of Selena’s life, writer/director Gregory Nava offers interesting insights about music, dedication, and family. The concert sequences effectively convey the excitement her personality and music created.
The Blu-ray contains both the Theatrical Version and an Extended Edition of the film that was commonly shown on television that runs just over six minutes longer. These added moments are comprised of extended performances and some emotional moments that add to her backstory.
Presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, there are no specific details on this 1080p transfer, but it’s terrific. The image is crisp, and the level of grain gives things a filmic appearance. Textures look good, and colors are well saturated throughout. Spacing is above average in the depth of field. Black levels look inky, and flesh tones, natural. There are no artifacts to speak of.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is solid, with an immersive atmosphere and some terrific directional effects. The music is the main focus of the mix and it sounds excellent, very crisp and you’ll feel like you’re in the front row of the concert. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout. There are no audio issues.
English, Spanish, and French subtitles are included.
The following extras are available. All ported over from the 2007 DVD:
- Selena – Queen of Tejano (18:56) Selena’s dad Abraham Quintanilla, brother Abie, sister Suzette, husband Chris Pérez, band mates Rick Vela and Joe Ojeda, singer/songwriter Pete Astudillo, and others speak openly about growing up together, life on the road, struggling to make ends meet, “bird baths”, the creative process, hitting it big, stage costumes, American and Mexican audiences, Selena’s legacy, and more.
- The Making of Selena: 10 Years Later (30:25) The previously mentioned family members, as well as director/writer Gregory Nava, actors Jennifer Lopez and Edward James Olmos, producer Moctezuma Esparza, casting director Roger Mussenden, and others offer further reflections on her life, music, and legacy.
- Outtakes (12:09) A collection of deleted and extended scenes.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:27)
Selena (10th Anniversary Edition)
Movie title: Selena (1997)
Duration: 134 min
Director(s): Gregory Nava
Actor(s): Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olmos, Jon Seda, Constance Marie , Jacob Vargas , Lupe Ontiveros
Genre: Music, Biography, Drama