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Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/31/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/1/2009
When discussing movies, people often talk of "guilty pleasures". These are movies which people in theory shouldn't like, so if you do like it, you should feel guilty about it. I've never believed in this idea, because you should never feel guilty for liking what you like. (Assuming of course, that the movie didn't come from that back room at the video store.) However, there are movies whose content can make you feel guilty. Movies in this vein offer material which make us look inwardly, perhaps at something that we usually don't see. Slumdog Millionaire certainly falls into this category.
As Slumdog Millionaire opens, we are introduced to Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), a young Indian man who is being tortured by a police officer. We learn that Jamal has been winning on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and that he's being accused of cheating. As part of the interrogation, Srinivas (Saurabh Shukla) plays a tape of the game show and as Jamal gets each question correct, he asks the frightened young man how he knew the answer. Through flashbacks, we see Jamal's childhood, and learn how he gained a wealth of general knowledge which is unusual of someone like him. Young Jamal (played by Ayush Mahesh Khedekar and Tanay Chheda) and his brother, Salim (played by Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, and Madhur Mittal) are orphaned at a young age, and must survive on the streets of Mumbai on their own. They meet another orphan, Latika (played by Rubiana Ali, Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar, and Freida Pinto), and Jamal instantly feels a bond with her. Throughout their lives, the youngsters are forced to move from one place to another, always looking for their next meal and facing dangers. As the questions on the game show advance, we watch Jamal and Salim grow and grow apart, as their efforts to better themselves lead them down different paths. All the while, Jamal never stops thinking about Latika.
I hate to sound like a Negative Nick (Ned? Nelson?), but when it comes to recent Oscar winning or nominated films, I haven't been impressed. As far as I'm concerned most of these movies are made in/set it foreign countries (The Academy needs to look beyond a movie's language and re-define what a "foreign film" is) and the content is something which audience and critics convince themselves is important. The results are typically films where are boring and interchangeable.
To say that Slumdog Millionaire is multi-faceted is an understatement. It's an examination of a culture, a love story, a thriller, and it ends with a Bollywood dance number. Boyle has managed to take the film's huge scope and present it in a way which is both palatable and uncorrupted. The acting is top-notch and the movie is very well-shot. Did it deserve best picture? I haven't seen all of the nominees, so I can't say that for a fact. I can say that I still enjoyedThe Dark Knight more, but given my typical distaste for "important" films, I was impressed by Slumdog Millionaire.
Slumdog Millionaire jumps out of an outhouse on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and
the Disc contains an AVC transfer which runs at an average of 4.5 Mbps. On the
audio commentary included here, Boyle lets us know that the film was shot using
several different cameras and the Blu-ray will enhance the noise or grain of
some shots. And he was right. The transfer reveals several different looks. For
the most part, the image is fairly sharp and clear. However, certain shots do
show an notable amount of grain. I'm glad that Fox didn't attempt to alter these
shots and effect the entire movie. The colors look very good, as there are
bright tones which stand out against the typically drab backdrops. The depth and
level of detail is fairly good and despite the grain, there are no defects from
the source material. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs
at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and
sound effects. This is a very muscular track which is quite dynamic. The stereo
effects are highly detailed and show a nice amount of separation. Likewise, the
surround effects are nearly constant and place us in the midst of crowd scenes.
The in-film music sounds fantastic and lends energy to the film. The music
provides nice low-end to the subwoofer which got quite a workout. The subtitles
are presented in a unique fashion and are easy to read.
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long