The Screening Room
slumdog millionaire
Swimming against the tide and sticking with one's conviction, that's the story of "Slumdog Millionaire." I, too, am swimming against a tide of overwhelming odds to review this film.

“Slumdog Millionaire” is now available on Blu-ray.

On one hand, it's hard to not love the rags-to-riches story of a group of kids who rise from poverty to higher society. Every single child actor in this film is amazing and convincing, funny and sometimes frightening. No Hollywood moptops here. These children are the real deal. It's hard not to like the young stars, Dev Patel and Freida Pinto. Here's a movie with all the underdog qualities audiences love. Yet I didn't quite get into the film as I had hoped.

What didn't I get while watching the film? It won numerous awards, including the big one, an Oscar for Best Picture. The critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave it an overwhelming 94% rating. It's got to be a grand entertainment.

I went sent two copies of the film. One on DVD, and the other on Blu-ray. Not that would make a huge difference, because the movie would stand on its own regardless of format. In watching it on DVD (my first time seeing the film), it struck me as a film with feet in two different worlds. One world was the impoverished slums of Mumbai. The second world was the corrupt world of the upper class. They're tied together by a love story with pretty wrapping paper.

Danny Boyle's film makes both worlds slick as a modern movie can. There are tricky camera shots with lots of "Dutch angles" that gives some of the scenes an off-balance feel. The slums are still heartbreaking, but the film still gives them a Hollywood feel. There are a few cuts of high-speed camera shots to give the illusion of jittery motion. The entire film is bathed in yellow and brown tints. The lighting is exquisite. Perhaps, right off the bat, I was thrown off in watching this film due to the look.   

Re-watching it on the superior Blu-ray, with its superior picture quality and sound, I wanted to love this film like most other people. This is a well-done film with an intricate story and carefully selected actors who are convincing. One cannot help but feel for those children in the film growing up under such conditions. Many Americans complain about how bad we have it here. But even our most impoverished areas don't seem to compare what we see in "Slumdog." The Blu-ray brings out the squalor and detail even more than the DVD. You become immersed into that world. In re-watching the film, I had hoped I'd see and feel what almost everyone else saw in it. But I didn't.

My re-discovery brought me to these two conclusions about how I experienced the film. On one level, the slick cinematography, though excellent by almost any filmmaking standard, took me out of the film. Anthony Dod Mantle's eye is very good. The best comparison I can think of is the 1961 film, "West Side Story," which made New York street gangs and street life somewhat glamorous. "Slumdog" most certainly goes well beyond that film in really showing the grit of the slums. Yet I still felt the cinematography put a nice sheen on it.

On level two, I found the film predictable. I hadn't read any reviews that I was aware of that told me the entire plot. Yet while watching it, I could trace all of the flashbacks and plot easily to how the film would conclude. That's not to say the Boyle and company haven't crafted an intricate story, because they have. It's a good story. But nothing really surprised me about what would transpire.

The Blu-ray continues to show Fox's continued excellence in the format. The picture quality shows every slickly gritty detail the film contains. The outhouse scene really shows the muck! The quality trumps the DVD (though it is also very good) by a longshot. The color scheme chosen by Mantle looks great, if that's your cup of tea. 

The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is as good as they get.  The score by A.R. Rahman was well-recorded and it punctuates the film admirably. The soundtrack is deserving of its Oscar for Best Sound Mixing.

Perhaps someday, down the line, I'll come to appreciate "Slumdog Millionaire" as most people have. Sometime it's hard swimming against the tide, because I'm just not in love with it at this time.       

Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: © 20th Century Fox. All rights reserved.
Blu-ray Quick Glimpse



The movie that had audiences swooning

Director: Danny Boyle  

Cast: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal 

Deleted scenes, "making of," and more


Picture: Excellent
Sound: Excellent

The references are pretty cool to Indian musicals

Aspect Ratio (2.39:1)


March 31, 2009
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