Slumdog Millionaire Blu-ray Review
Slumdog Millionaire comes to blu-ray with an AVC MPEG-4 1080P encode and presented in a Widescreen 2.35:1 ratio.
Danny Boyle used a number of video and film cameras in making this film. The choppy nature of the filming techniques coupled with the choppy nature of the film soon reveal the inconsistencies of using such an approach.
In short, the film has a very gritty and real life image quality to it. The slums of India look as dirty and grimy as you would imagine them to be and the film depicts everything as true to life as it can get. Although there is some stylisation employed it's not overly so and the main effect left is that of a brownish tinge to the whole film.
Blacks and contrast hit good levels and the many outdoor scenes have plenty of depth about them. The colours on the other hand are a little inconsistent. You would associate the suburban backdrops and slums of Mumbai to be saturated with a bold, vivid and vibrantly fuller range of the colour spectrum. The stylised take on the film however more often than not leaves a rather muted feel.
The outdoor scenes can also be criticised for unbalanced whites which results in blooming and a washed out look to the film. Surprisingly, I also found some of the shots in the studio of 'Who wants to be Millionaire' a little lacking in sparkle. There is vague opaqueness to the image.
Detail can range from being a little lacking right through to being truly exquisite. I can only assume once again that this is down the variety of cameras used whilst filming.
All of this however does not grate particularly so as the film comes across as having been made quite purposefully this way. On the plus side there is very little sign of DNR and edge enhancement having been applied or any other video nasties which is always a good sign of attention to detail.
In truth the transfer is difficult to overly criticise but I found it to be a little too inconsistent for my liking. Anyhow for the most part Slumdog still hits the mark and I'm sure you'll enjoy the visual experience.
The blu-ray features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround track presented in a mix of Hindi and English. Along with an inventive use of subtitles this is an excellent and originally supportive soundtrack.
The first thing that hit me was how incredibly loud it was. This is not what I was expecting given what the movie is about. In many cases I initially felt that the dynamics were just plain wrong as the effects were simply too overpowering. However, after repeated viewings you begin to appreciate that there is actually some subtlety to it all.
The ambience of Mumbai is captured effortlessly and the volume levels are always aggressively tuned. You may wish to play around with the settings to get everything sounding just so. I guess it's better to have the option to be able to turn down settings than to wish to have the ability to do so otherwise.
Dialogue is crisp and the clarity is excellent. The full range of sound envelopes you at every opportunity. LFE gets a good work over and rumbles away quite actively so. Bass is also never far away and presents itself at any given opportunity. It gives the whole thing an authoritative and weighty presence.
The movie itself will live with you and it's in no part added immensely to by this soundtrack. The wonderful musical score by A.R. Rahman really does suit the film to a tee and it gives it a hauntingly uplifting edge.
The disc comes with a twin Audio Commentary and visual extras presented mainly in Standard Definition. There is a supplementary disc with a digital copy of the film to add to a digitally capable device of your choice
Audio Commentary - The film comes with no less than two audio commentaries and you'll be spoilt for choice. Firstly, Danny Boyle and Dev Patel talk their way through the film. Danny Boyle is quite enthused about it all and it's a lively commentary with Dev Patel joining in with comments of his own. There's a fair amount of depth to what they say but it's more so just a very good listen. Secondly, producer Christian Colson commentates with writer Simon Beaufoy. The second commentary is in some ways more insightful than the first but not as entertaining. Both of these guys are able to divulge a host of informative behind the scenes facts.
Deleted Scenes - (33min 51secs) - There are surprisingly a good chunk of scenes here for you to go through. Although there's nothing film changing here there's plenty enough for you to see what could have been added to the film.
Slumdog Dreams: Danny Boyle & The Making of Slumdog Millionaire - (22min 58secs) - This is an excellent extra. Not only is it well made but it has been put together intelligently. The musical score gives it some real presence and all the contributors outline the film and the story.
Slumdog Cutdown - (5mins 36secs) - A video synopsis of the film coupled to a thumping soundtrack. It plays almost like a music video and you'll want to crank up the sound system and get jiggy with it for sure. Very entertaining and presented in HD which is a bonus.
From script to screen: Toilet scene - (5mins 25ecs) - Danny Boyle kicks this one off by talking about what attracted him to the script. This particular scene is about the outdoor toilets that exist in the slums. Simon Beaufoy draws the parallel about why the scene was used to reflect the differences between the very rich and famous and the oh so very poor.
Indian Short Film - Manjha - (41mins 3ecs) - A surreal film that's presented in black& white. I found it quite difficult to get into as it's very dark and sombre. This one is for the more intent amongst you.
Bombay Liquid Dance - (3mins) - A short video of Mumbai scenes to a musical accompaniment. Not as good as the Slumdog Cutdown version.
Theatrical Trailer - (2mins 7secs) - A HD theatrical trailer of the film.
European Theatrical Trailer - (1mins 57secs) - This one is meant to be the European trailer but the voiceover and wording is distinctly American?
The individual elements of Slumdog Millionaire do not amount for much but the sum of the parts is most definitely greater than the whole. What we have here is a synergy greater than anyone could have realistically hoped and dreamt for.
The story is set to a wonderful screenplay and much credit goes to Simon Beaufoy for pulling together a script that works so fantastically well. There's not much to dislike about this movie and it's one that will have an evergreen and universal appeal.
Danny Boyle has hit such a high note of cinema magic that I sincerely doubt it's going to be one that he will ever attain again. The Slumdog bandwagon quite rightfully trounced the Academy Awards, hauling itself eight Oscars including Best Picture as well.
The blu-ray features a faithful transfer of the film and although at times it appears a little inconsistent, it is nevertheless a good effort. The soundtrack is powerful, immersive and surprisingly dynamic. The disc is also not short of a good feature set including no less than two audio commentaries. Danny Boyle's commentary and The Making of Slumdog are the two standout extras.
For all the accolades that this film has won, it undoubtedly comes as a recommended purchase. The blu-ray is a good effort all round and makes for a highly worthwhile investment. Slumdog Millionaire is surely a film you will wish to revisit time and time again.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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