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A Mumbai teen who grew up in the slums becomes a contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?", but before he can answer the final question, he's arrested for cheating. While being interrogated, he explains how his life struggle has provided all the answers.
For more about Slumdog Millionaire and the Slumdog Millionaire Blu-ray release, see the Slumdog Millionaire Blu-ray Review
Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal, Anil Kapoor, Irfan Khan, Tanay Chheda
Director: Danny Boyle
» See full cast & crew
Slumdog Millionaire Blu-ray Review
And the Oscar goes to....
Reviewed by Ben Williams, March 30, 2009
Is Slumdog Millionaire the little movie that could? As the recipient of the Best Picture Academy Award this year, most would be surprised to learn that the film almost didn't even find a release in the United States or many other parts of the world. Initially financed by Warner Independent Pictures, the film was kicked to the curb when the indy studio closed its doors and all of its films were transferred into the hands of Warner Brothers. Convinced that the film had limited commercial appeal, Warner slated Slumdog Millionaire for a direct to DVD release and eventually sold off the US rights to Fox Searchlight. Fox couldn't have made a better buy, as Slumdog Millionaire has gone on to earn just under $300 million at the box office worldwide, while running away with a whopping eight Oscars at the 81st Academy Awards. Not too shabby for a little movie about a bunch of impoverished orphans from the slums of Mumbai, India.
Jamal Malik's (Dev Patel) life has been filled with challenges the likes of which most could not fathom. Orphaned and left to roam the streets of Mumbai, he's spent his life in a constant struggle to survive, aided only by his few close friends, his quick wits and a little bit of luck. Miraculously, Jamal ends up as a contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," sweeping through every category while capturing the hearts of the show's television audience. Indian authorities, however, are skeptical of Jamal's lucky streak; they simply can't understand how a kid from the slums could know all the answers to the show's complex questions. Jamal is quickly arrested and charged with cheating on the show. As he faces torture and relentless questioning, Jamal defends his honor by recounting his life experiences in the slums of Mumbai; experiences that have supplied him with all the answers he will need to win big on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."
Slumdog Millionaire is, at its core, a romance. Jamal's struggles and eventual appearance on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" serve as a backdrop to his longing for Latika (Freida Pinto), the local girl he's been in love with since childhood. Latika's own struggles parallel Jamal's; the two characters exist in different spheres of the same world, separated only by circumstance and past failings in their relationship. Like any good romance, they are meant to be together, but the struggle to find each other is the crux of the film.
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement that Slumdog Millionaire dishes out in large doses, but viewers are quickly reminded that the film takes place in a world of severe poverty and suffering. The slums of Mumbai are as inhospitable a place as one could imagine for children; it's a frightening and desolate existence for Jamal and his brother Salim (Madhur Mittal). One of the many miraculous elements that the film presents lies in the detailed depiction of slum life for the children. It's a horrible existence that serves as fuel for the characters to break free of the oppression that they've experienced since birth.
Slumdog Millionaire is a truly marvelous film that has become something of a phenomenon with audiences around the world. For fans of Director Danny Boyle, a true artist who has crafted many an outstanding film, his win for Best Director serves as vindication and commercial appreciation for his remarkable body of work. It's a rare thing to discover a film that can be insightful, touching and revealing to the world. It's even more of a rarity when the world actually takes notice. Slumdog Millionaire is highly recommended.
Slumdog Millionaire Blu-ray, Video Quality
Shot with a combination of film and video cameras, Slumdog Millionaire comes to Blu- ray with its distinctively stylized appearance intact. It's a unique looking movie with an abundance of moody, almost monochromatic photography, designed to depict the seemingly infinite mass of Mumbai residents in a style that never glamorizes their suffering. As a matter of fact, director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle's rich photography was honored with the Academy Award for achievement in cinematography just last month. Given the film's pedigree and award recognition, Fox has given Slumdog Millionaire a high bitrate AVC Mpeg-4 1080p encode, in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, that captures the movie's groundbreaking style to perfection.
Slumdog Millionaire isn't a traditionally "pretty" film, rather, it's a gritty realization of the realities of slum life in India. Regardless, the film's unique landscapes and industrial locations take on a picturesque quality that becomes more and more visually appealing as the film unfolds, in spite of its desolate nature. The movie maintains a brownish color scheme throughout with washed out colors and intentionally tweaked contrast levels. Detail isn't particularly great throughout the film, but does occasionally reveal finer elements in the photography. Fortunately, the film is never hindered by edge enhancement, excessive digital noise reduction or other digital annoyances. Slumdog Millionaire is fully present in all of its unwashed and gritty glory on Blu-ray; the film is completely accurate to its intended look and is highly recommended.
Slumdog Millionaire Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Slumdog Millionaire features a bizarre 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, mixing English and Hindi dialogue, that serves as a lively representation of the bustling streets of the slums of Mumbai. The film's unique sound design was honored with an Academy Award in 2008 and has been faithfully reproduced on this Blu-ray release. As the film flashes between scenes of Jamal's childhood, incarceration and game show appearance, the soundtrack echoes the aural signature of each locale, creating a swirling surround experience that never fails to entice. I was very impressed with the film's use of discreet surround effects in the Mumbai scenes; the effects help to create a sense of heightened reality that infuses realism with sonic exaggeration.
My favorite aspect of the soundtrack to Slumdog Millionaire is its Academy Award winning score from Indian composer A.R. Rahman; it's a lively and raucous collection of eclectic Indian tunes that add a layer of authenticity to each scene, while remaining melodic and enticingly rhythmic. The score is beautifully presented on this Blu-ray release, practically exploding from the soundstage and dominating all 5.1 channels. Dialogue is crisply presented, though the cast's thick Indian accents may prove to be problematic for some viewers. Ultimately, Slumdog Millionaire's audio presentation manages to be both exciting and subtle when required, dutifully reproducing the award-winning sonic elements of this deserving production. Highly recommended!
Slumdog Millionaire Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
- Feature Length Audio Commentary with Director Danny Boyle and Actor Dev Patel - Feature Length Audio Commentary with Producer Christian Colson and writer Simon Beaufoy - "Slumdog Dreams: Danny Boyle & The Making of Slumdog Millionaire" - Deleted Scenes
- From Script To Screen: Toilet Scene
- Indian Short Film – "Manjha"
- Bombay Liquid Dance Music Video
The main attraction among the extras featured on Slumdog Millionaire, comes in the form of Danny Boyle's and Dev Patel's outstanding audio commentary. The track is almost as enjoyable as the film itself, with both participants going into great depth regarding filming in Mumbai, as well as the camaraderie between the film's various cast members. Boyle's and Patel's senses of humor and lighthearted wit give the track an infectious charm that will appeal to even the most fervent commentary detractor. There are a TON of deleted scenes include, as well. None are particularly game changing for the film's plot, but most do offer some additional insight into the story. The set also features an outstanding documentary feature called "Slumdog Dreams." It's a nicely put together piece that manages to avoid making-of clichés. Finally, a strange music video and Indian short film are also included, though they might not appeal to general audiences.
Slumdog Millionaire Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Slumdog Millionaire surprised audiences around the world with its original and warm-hearted storytelling, especially considering the film's somewhat depressing subject matter. Director Danny Boyle has made a career out of crafting unique movies that, despite not having much in common with one another, manage to focus on the human experience regardless of the setting. Slumdog Millionaire succeeds because of its boundless optimism and sunny outlook; the film's characters find happiness and satisfaction because of their humble lives, not in spite of them. Fox has delivered the film to Blu-ray with a faithful transfer that perfectly realizes the film's heavily stylized look. Audio is also nicely presented in the form of a stellar 5.1 DTS HD-Master Audio track that delivers the film's Hindi and English dialogue with aplomb. The film's supplements, while limited in number, are highly enjoyable. Slumdog Millionaire is an inspiring and entertaining film that has found a welcome home on Blu- ray. Highly recommended!
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Slumdog Millionaire Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - March 31st - March 31, 2009
When 'Slumdog Millionaire' was released theatrically, it was pegged as the "feel-good film of the year" by many who reviewed it, but most probably didn't realize how true that assessment actually was. Originally financed by Warner Independent Pictures, the ...
• Slumdog Millionaire Announced for March 31st Release - March 3, 2009
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the 2008 Academy-award winner for Best Picture 'Slumdog Millionaire' to Blu-ray on March 31st, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video will be presented in 2.35:1 1080p AVC accompanied by both ...
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