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Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire

Released: November 12, 2008

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Slumdog Millionaire
Interscope Records (001250202)

Released: November 24, 2008

Format: CD (50 min)

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Released: June 15, 2013

Format: Digital (2 hr, 32 min)

Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire (Blu-ray)

by Dan Goldwasser
on March 30th, 2009
[4 / 5] printable

In Slumdog Millionaire, Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) has just gotten the farthest in the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" than anyone ever has.  There's just one problem - there's no possible way that this kid from the slums of Mumbai could have known the answers, so he must have been cheating, right?  After being beaten up by the police trying to extract a confession, Jamal finally gets a chance to explain how he knows the answers - the fascinating story of his life provided them.  As a young boy living in the slums, he and his brother Salim became orphans when their mother was killed during an anti-Muslim attack.  Taken to an orphanage that exploits children for profit, Jamal befriended Latika, but soon they all escape - and Latika is re-captured.  Over the years, as Jamal tries to find Latika, Salim falls in with the organized crime elements of the area.  Themes of betrayal and redemption are prevalent as Jamal continues his search for Latika.  Based on the 2005 novel Q and A, this new Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) film was one of the best movies of 2008, and swept the Academy Awards, winning trophys for all aspects of the production including Best Pictures.  The film has everything in it: action, drama, romance, tension, excitement, social commentary, and - during the end credits - even a bit of Bollywood.  The characters are fully three-dimensional, with Jamal being a completely sympathetic figure, and through Boyle's direction, the poverty-stricken sub-culture of Mumbai comes to vibrant life.

Coming to home video on DVD and Blu-ray, Slumdog Millionaire has a very solid visual transfer.  Shot digitally in HD, (including on some rather impressively small digital cameras), the Blu-ray for Slumdog Millionaire has a vibrant colorful look to it that translates perfectly to your screen. From the slums of Mumbai to the flashy lights of the television studio, the image is deep and crisp.  It's not clear that this is a direct-to-digital transfer, since there appears to be some subtle film grain (or video noise), but it all helps the presentation in a rather visually appealing way.  Audio is presented in Hindi/English 5.1 DTS Master Audio, as well as Dolby Digital French 5.1., and does a nice job immersing you into the different worlds that the film explores.  Use of music in the film is excellent, and the songs and score by A.R. Rahman, infusing traditional Indian stylings with a modern beat, engage the viewer are definitely showcased in the audio track, helping push the emotional journey forward.

Extras on the Blu-ray start out with two commentary tracks.  The first one features director Danny Boyle and actor Dev Patel.  The two clearly have a good relationship and the banter is good, and the focus is more on the acting and the way they shot the film amidst the bustling urban sprawl of Mumbai.  Unfortunately there are some gaps, and a few instances of "describing what is on screen", but overall it's a pretty informative track.  A second track features producer Christian Colson and writer Simon Beaufoy, and focuses more on the story and production challenges of the film.  It suffers occasionally from gaps where the two are watching the film, but they do provide a lot of informative information with a lot of reminiscing about their experiences working on the project, with Beaufoy in particular talking about the evolution of the story and the challenges he faced adapting the novel and making it a cinematic story.

There are twelve deleted scenes (SD, 34-minutes) which flesh out the characters a bit more, and show what life is like in the slums. Unfortunately there is no commentary on these scenes, and the MPEG-2 SD presentation is a bit compressed.  The main featurette, "Slumdog Dreams: Danny Boyle & The Making of Slumdog Millionaire" (SD 16x9, 23-minutes) is a pretty solid but short look at the making of the film, and Boyle's filmmaking approach. From working with children actors who don't speak English, to shooting in active slums, most aspects of the production are looked at.  "Slumdog Cutdown" (HD, 5.5-minutes) is a condensed overview of the entire film, from start to end, set to A.R. Rahman's Oscar-winning song, "Jai Ho".  It's like a music video that tells the whole story of the film if you can't watch it.  I'm not sure what the purpose is, honestly, but the visuals work nicely against the music.

"From Script to Screen: Toilet Scene" (SD 16x9, 5.5-minutes) looks at one of the film's most gross-out moments, a scene which so effectively showcases the two different worlds of Mumbai.  While they filmed it in the real location, they don't exactly reveal whether or not the child actor actually did jump into the pile of crap.  "Bombay Liquid Dance" (SD, 3-minutes) is a rather disjointed music video of shots of Bombay (Mumbai) set to music. It just seems slapped together and not really with any purpose other than to just show a random slice of life. 

An Indian short film, Manjha (SD, 41-minutes) is also presented o the disc.  Directed by Rahi Anil Barve, and hand-picked by Danny Boyle to be included on the Blu-ray, Manjha is a dark film about child molestation.  It certainly ties into an aspect of one of the plots of Slumdog Millionaire, but it's a tough film to watch. Finally, the theatrical (HD, 2-minutes) and European trailers (SD, 2-minutes) for Slumdog Millionaire are included.  It's interesting to see how the marketing differs for the two markets.

Slumdog Millionaire is a rather dark film, but I found it to be one of the year's best movies.  It has everything going for it - a solid engaging story, compelling actors, and a great pace.  On Blu-ray, it looks vibrant and sounds wonderful, and has enough extras to make it worth picking up.

Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire

by Dan Goldwasser
on December 23rd, 2008
[4.5 / 5] printable

In Slumdog Millionaire, Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) has just gotten the farthest in the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" than anyone ever has.  There's just one problem - there's no possible way that this kid from the slums of Mumbai could have known the answers, so he must have been cheating, right?  After being beaten up by the police trying to extract a confession, Jamal finally gets a chance to explain how he knows the answers - the fascinating story of his life provided them.  As a young boy living in the slums, he and his brother Salim became orphans when their mother was killed during an anti-Muslim attack.  Taken to an orphanage that exploits children for profit, Jamal befriended Latika, but soon they all escape - and Latika is re-captured.  Over the years, as Jamal tries to find Latika, Salim falls in with the organized crime elements of the area.  Themes of betrayal and redemption are prevalent as Jamal continues his search for Latika.  

Based on the 2005 novel Q and A, this new Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) film is one of the best movies of the year, hands down.  It has everything in it: action, drama, romance, tension, excitement, social commentary, and - during the end credits - even a bit of Bollywood.  The characters are fully three-dimensional, with Jamal being a completely sympathetic figure, and through Boyle's direction, the poverty-stricken sub-culture of Mumbai comes to vibrant life.  

Dev Patel has been gaining some well deserved attention for his performance.  The music by A.R. Rahman brings a mixture of old India and modern beats to engage the viewer, and provides plenty of driving energy and emotion to the film.  If there is one movie you see this winter, be sure to check out Slumdog Millionaire.  It's not a conventional film by any means, and it's a great story told exceptionally well.



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