Plot: What’s it about?
Jamal (Dev Patel) has lived a life of tragic circumstances, forced to endure more hardship and suffering than most people could even fathom. An orphan with no family to depend on, Jamal instead relies on himself, a few close friends, and the beatiful Latika (Freida Pinto), his unrealized love. A bit of luck soon unfolds for Jamal however, when he manages to become a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. While he is uneducated in the usual sense, Jamal’s life has taught him a lot and in a stroke of incredible luck, the questions fall within his range of knowledge. His success proves to be a burden however, when the authorities believe he is cheating on the show. Jamal is then beaten and even arrested, then interrogated about what happened on the show. As he recounts his life to them, will it be enough or will even his moment of triumph turn into tragedy?
The power of hype can be immense, as proven in the case of Slumdog Millionaire. The film went from little attention to being pushed as the greatest invention since sliced bread. But does the film live up to that hype? Slumdog Millionaire is a solid, well made picture, no doubt. Even in a weak year like 2008 however, it shouldn’t be listed with the best of the best. But the hype carried the film to not just massive media exposure, but a Best Picture win. The movie is good, with solid direction, performances, and writing, but it never stands out from the crowd. This is just a feel good, melodramatic production that colors within the lines, but never takes any real chances. But to punish Slumdog Millionaire because of the hype isn’t fair. While it isn’t a great movie, it is well made and is more than recommended as a rental.
Video: How does it look?
Slumdog Millionaire is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The filmmakers used some tweaks in the visuals, so some scenes are crystal clear and pristine, while others have a gritty, grainy presence. Regardless, the entire movie looks great and this is an accurate representation of the theatrical experience. The image shows off impeccable depth and detail, so you’ll see all kinds of subtle visual touches here. I saw no issues with colors or contrast either, as both perform just as intended. This is simply a great visual effort and it should satisfy all viewers.
Audio: How does it sound?
This movie won an Oscar for sound design and thanks to this DTS HD 5.1, that sound design is well replicated. A great audio treatment, this track provides power when needed, as well as more subtle elements. The surrounds get used often, to bolster the general atmosphere and to kick in some extra oomph here and there. Not an explosive soundtrack, but a good one and this mix makes sure it shines. The mix of English and Hindi dialogue sounds smooth, save the thick accents, while the music comes through well and never suffers. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A pair of audio commentaries starts us off, the first with director Danny Boyle and star Dev Patel, the second with producer Christian Colson and writer Simon Beaufoy. The second session is solid, but the director/star track is one of the better ones I have listened to of late. The track is loaded with memories and anecdotes, giving us a personal, candid look inside the production of the picture. This disc also includes a bonus short film titled Manjha, a nice assortment of deleted scenes, a script to scene comparison, a behind the scenes featurette, and the film’s theatrical trailer.