The Screening Room
THE STUDIO GATE
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
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.
Special thanks to Click Communications
Photos: © 20th Century Fox. All
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
The references are pretty cool to Indian
Aspect Ratio (2.39:1)
DTS-HD MA 7.1
BLU-RAY RELEASE DATE
March 31, 2009