* Prices may differ from that shown
I am the first to admit that I was dubious of this film when it was first released, all those award nominations usually means that it's an obscure film with lots of hype (American Beauty), however I will also be the first to admit that in the case of Slumdog Millionaire I was wrong.
Slumdog Millionaire is a 'rags to riches' story about a boy who grows up in the slums of Mumbai, India. Directed by Danny Boyle and staring Dev Patel, Frieda Pinto and Anil Kapoor.
Jamal finds himself as a contestant on the Indian version of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' and the film follows him as he correctly answers questions after question. Before he reaches the final 20million rupee question he is arrested for fraud and has to explain to the police how he comes to know all the answers. The film then takes us on a journey through his life and explains the events leading up to the game show which resulted in him knowing the answers.
Along the way Jamal and his brother meet up with Latika and she becomes the focus for Jamal so much so that he only goes on the game show in the hope that she would see him and make contact.
This is a very clever film with amazing scenery and a witty and realistic script. The character of Jamal is written with a smart wit and cheeky personality which gives an otherwise serious film a comedy undertone.
In my opinion the highlight of this film are the child actors who start as the three main characters when they are younger. They are amazing actors and show a level of emotion which draws you into the film.
The Blu Ray version of this film shows off the scenery of India to its true quality. There are 11 special features including 'Slumdog Dreams: The Making of' and Commentary by Dev Patel and Danny Boyle.
I haven't watched all of these yet but will update this review when I have.
Overall this is a great film which can be watched over and over.
As someone who rarely goes to the cinema, prefering to sit at home and enjoy my films in comfort I never get to see the Oscar baiting films on release. The downside to this is that hype has a real negative affect on me and this was the case with Slumdog Millionaire particularly with it being a British film, it was and still is to an extent - everywhere!
Because of this, the story was already familiar to me as it is probably to you concerning a young Mumbai peasant's success on the Indian version of game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
Having recently received the Blu-ray version of this for free with a new Blu-ray Disc player I was surprised to find that this was very far removed from the rags-to-riches melodrama I had anticipated. Quite the opposite in fact. From the beginning we see Jamal winning the gameshow and subsequently being tortured on suspicion of cheating. At this point, the story Forks to show Jamal as a much younger child and his backstory is explored in a lot of detail. This serves to show us how Jamal was able to answer the questions correctly as teenage Jamal -who we regularly return back to- is challenged with explaining how he knew the answer to each individual question.
It's a much more imaginative and inventive storytelling technique than I had expected and I was pleased to find my expectations blown out of the water. The film at times can actually be a bit of a hard watch as Jamal and his childhood friends are regularly abused and mistreated but this feels necessary and fits with the character he has grown up to become.
I guess it's unfair to judge a film by its trailer like I did as something good might pass you by.
Set in India, this is the story of a street kid (slumdog) who has won a game show called 'Who wants to be a millionaire' and the film begins with the young man being brutally questioned in a police station. They want to now how it is that an uneducated Slumdog (called Jamal) can possibly know the answers to all the questions in the show having concluded he must have been cheating. The story is told in flashbacks and follows Jamal's life from childhood to his position now. It follows the progression in the love story of the film between Jamal and Latika.
This film doesn't quite live up to its hype in my opinion. Having read the book before hand, I enjoyed the film but was a bit disappointed that it didn't follow the book, which had a much stronger storyline. I didn't particularly like the love story that flowed through the film or the acting of the older Jamal. However, I really enjoyed the parts of the films showing Jamal as a young boy. Real Indian street kids were used and they play the parts brilliantly. The film gives great visuals of Indian cities and a real insight into a live lived in Indian poverty.
The film has often been quoted as a 'feel good film'. This was in actual fact the tagline for much of the advertising when the film came out - 'Feel-good film of the year'. However, it is quite a dark film with many potentially upsetting scenes and so is not one for children or the light-hearted.
This Bluray version comes with some extra commentary and missing scenes, but best of all is the making of documentary which is really interesting.
When I watched the previews, I was under the impression that Slumdog Millionnaire was a comedy? Perhaps that was me getting the wrong end or the stick or maybe that is the intention of the advertising?! Who knows. All I know is that Slumdog Millionnaire isn't really a comedy.
Slumdog Millionnaire is about a teenage boy who is one question away from winning Who Wants to be a Millionnaire. The Indian authorities do not believe that he could have known the answers to all the former questions - so the story then takes us through the boy's life and specific times when he receieved the knowledge he needed to know the answers to the questions.
There are many disturbing scenes in this movie and alluminated in blurary 1080p. The picture is outstanding. The soundtrack is stirring. The film is more of a drama and an emotional tale than a light-hearted comedy. Although Slumdog is not without its comical elements.
I can not forget to mention the wonderful acting talent within this film. The children have such charisma and a real talent, I have been so moved by their pure honesty in their representations of the characters. The film was resting on the shoulders of untrained child actors and guess what....it has received more praise and acknowledgement than any other bollywood movie.
I really couldn't say any more without giving too much away. However, it is a touching and well written film which has you shedding tears and yet feeling uplifted at the end. It's very worthy of it's awards.
...and you need to watch it on Bluray if you missed it in the cinema because the blurary experience can not be praised too highly.
Whenever the Oscar bandwagon comes trundling along I start to dread the deluge of worthy films that appear. We suddenly go from an autumn full of exploitation flicks and forgotten flops into a world where every trailer starts with 'From the Oscar Winner...' These films are deliberately written, directed and acted for the sole purpose of winning an Academy award. They deal with issues that they think will fit into the liberal agenda of Hollywood - anti war, disabilities, race, drugs etc. The vast majority of the films are absolute garbage and should be deleted from our memories. Too many unworthy actors have won Oscars to make their output worth seeing; Halle Berry, Cuba Gooding Jnr, Roberto Benigni; the list goes on. I have stopped watching these Oscar films just because they are so disappointing (Titanic! Chicago! Crash!), but once in a while a winner almost meets the hype...
On the Indian version of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' a young man is about to win the jackpot. The show ends before he gets the final question, but rather than being escorted to a hotel room to await the final tomorrow, he is taken to a cell and tortured. How could a young man from the slums know so much information without resorting to cheating? To explain how Jamal knows all the answers he tells the story of his life to his captors. A life that contains poverty, family and eternal love. Can Jamal convince them that he is telling the truth and win the million so that he can runway?
Danny Boyle has been one of my favourite directors since 'Shallow Grave'. Although his films sometimes misfire they never fail to have an interesting take or entertain. Boyle is a director who will not be pigeon holed having made drama, science fiction and attempted comedy. He even managed to reinvent the Zombie genre for a new millennia with the sublime '28 Days Later'. After the slight misfire of 'Sunshine' (see my review http://members.dooyoo.co.uk/movie-dvd/sunshine-dvd/1065209/) I still trusted that Boyle could come back to form and when he received an Oscar I knew I had to watch 'Slumdog Millionaire'.
Does the film live up to all the awards hype that it received? Not quite, but as someone that tries to ignore all the fakery I went into the film as neutrally as any fan of Boyle can. This is not a movie that will change the world, although it does highlight the abject poverty of the poorest. It seems to set out to be mostly great entertainment. 'Slumdog' was advertised as a feel good movie, but with torture, rape, child mutilation and extreme poverty there is a lot of feel bad to get through before you can feel good. Some people also went into the film expecting a straight drama, but instead get a melodrama. If you can watch the film expecting nothing you are in for a treat.
The direction is brilliant as you would expect from Boyle. Although he has tackled many genres he has a distinct style that has survived throughout. Many of the angles and shots are reminiscent of 'Trainspotting' and '28 Days Later', but are used for totally different purposes. Shot on a shoestring you would never know as the location shoot in India was a genius idea. Why use expensive FX and sets when you have a rich real world to use. Boyle makes India the most important character in the film highlighting the many ways in which it differs from the West. Having seen this film on BluRay the cinematography of Anthony Dod Mantle and direction by Boyle is even more enhanced.
In terms of story the film also works. For all its important and serious elements the film is really a melodrama. Personally, I preferred the first two thirds that followed Jamal's life as he visited many different places; the third act was mostly about love and was cheesy in a film that also contained children being blinded. This mixture of extreme concepts and the warm heart that lies beneath is what grates on the critics. I agree to an extent that the film does descend too much into light heartedness, but this is perhaps the reason why the film did so well at the Oscars. As a structure the central use of 'Millionaire' works brilliantly as a way to introduce the many aspects of Jamal's life.
Another area that you associate with Boyle is great music and once again this is achieved. An Oscar winning film is not the place to expect a hip soundtrack, but the music used is evocative and sometimes controversial; does it impede on the drama?
One final area that was praised, but not award winning, was the acting. Boyle used mostly people from India with little to no acting experience, certainly in terms of the children. I think as a way of keeping the film feeling real it works as the use of local people means that you are never taken out of the world. British actor Dev Patel fits into the scene brilliantly as the older Jamal and is great as the awkward lovelorn loser. Personally, I was not enamoured with the rest of the adult cast as for me they were a little over the top, perhaps being from the Indian school of acting.
Is 'Slumdog Millionaire' one of the best films of all time? No, it is not even in the top three Danny Boyle films of all time. However, it is one of the greatest Best Picture winners as unlike many films on that list it actually entertains and informs. If you go into the film looking for pure entertainment you will come out happy as the serious aspects are downplayed in favour of big emotions by the finale. This may smack a little of selling out and perhaps some people will look down their noses at the film, but I for one would watch this 10 times in a row, rather than having to sit through 'Titanic' once more.
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Dev Patel et al.
Price: Amazon uk £17.88 (BluRay)
Play.com £19.99 (BluRay)
This is a great transfer onto BluRay and it really sells the location shots that Boyle chose. The use of natural lights and colours are what BluRay was made to enhance.
The extras on the disc are mostly entertaining puff pieces about how the film was made, just seeing the enthusiasm that Boyle has for the work is enough to make them fun.