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Slumdog Millionaire (2-Disc)
BLU-RAY disk
04.16.2009 By: Mathew Plale
Slumdog Millionaire (2-Disc) order
Director:
Danny Boyle

Actors:
Dev Patel
Freida Pinto
Anil Kapoor

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A teenager from the Mumbai slums (Patel) finds himself in the hot seat of a popular game show one question away from the top prize. But did he cheat or is he really that smart?
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
There’s a reason critics and the general audience describe a movie like Slumdog Millionaire using words like “uplifting” and “dazzling” and “triumphant.” It’s not to get blurbed on the Blu-ray cover or to hop on the bandwagon. It’s because those are the words to describe a movie like this.

It’s directed by Danny Boyle (with overlooked co-director Loveleen Tandan), the British filmmaker whose majority of films up to the point, including the gritty Trainspotting, zombie flick 28 Days Later, and the bungled sci-fi Sunshine, have been designed with a specific audience in mind. And now here is Slumdog Millionaire, partly in Hindi, shot entirely in India, yet entirely appealing to the masses.

Written by Simon Beaufoy, based off Vikas Swarup’s 2005 novel, ‘Q&A,’ Slumdog is a Dickensian story about Jamal (Dev Patal, also Ayush Mahesh Khedekar as the young Jamal), a teenager from the Mumbai slums who becomes a contestant on an Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. One question away from 20 million rupees, the host (Anil Kapoor) and authorities grow curious. “Doctors, lawyers never get past 60 thousand rupees. What can a slumdog possibly know?”

Did he cheat? Is he merely lucky? Or is he really a genius?

As the movie progresses, it becomes less about the answer to those questions than about how he knows the Millionaire answers, but often wishes he doesn’t. As slums turn to skyscrapers, we watch as Jamal answers questions about Hindu god Rama, Samuel Colt, and a record-holding cricketer, all of which trigger violent and regrettable flashbacks from his past involving his mother, older brother Salim (Madhur Mittal, also Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail), who he pawned, begged, and thwarted greasy gangsters with in their younger years, and their third musketeer, Latika (Freida Pinto, also Rubina Ali), who Jamal falls in love with early on.

This is a movie that relies on convenience and will be hard for some to swallow (“An American tourist just happens to give Jamal a hundred dollar bill, huh?? And he just happens to get that question ’bout Ben Franklin, huh??”), as will the self-congratulatory coda, a Bollywood-inspired dance sequence set to Best Original Song winner “Jai Ho.”

But check it at the door, because Slumdog Millionaire is just as much fantasy as it is drama, action, crime, musical, and romance. It’s a beautiful blend of genres that, because of the part-gritty/part-fantastical cinematography (Anthony Dod Mantle), faithful score (A.R. Rahman), primarily native cast, and passionate direction from Boyle and Tandan, is a success, and one of the most “uplifting,” “dazzling,” and “triumphant” movies in a very long time.
THE EXTRAS
Disc One:

Commentary by Director Danny Boyle and Star Dev Patel: If you saw any of the awards season interviews with Boyle and Patel, it should be no surprise that the two have great chemistry. The two offer a fun and insightful track, noting production stories and having an overall comfortable time doing so. A must listen.

Commentary by Producer Christian Colson and Writer Simon Beaufoy: This second track is weak compared to the first, but is still highly informative and worth hearing.

Deleted Scenes (33:51): There are 12 here, including an extended chase sequence, Prem at the police station, an extra Millionaire question regarding the Taj Mahal, and Jamal confessing to Salim about his “destiny.” All of these scenes are great and add to the characters and depth of the story. Absolutely worth watching.

Slumdog Dreams: Danny Boyle and the Making of Slumdog Millionaire (21:58): This two-part documentary features clips, behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with Boyle, Patel, Beaufoy, and others. Topics include how the project came about, finding the perfect cast, shoot on location, and the different equipment used. Unfortunately, as was the case around awards season, co-director (India) Loveleen Tandan goes virtually unmentioned.

Slumdog Cutdown (5:36) is a condensed version of the film set to “Jai Ho.”

From Script to Screen: The Toilet Scene (5:25) takes a look at the filming of one of the funnier moments of the film.

Manjha (41:03): This short black and white film from India is unimpressive overall, but should serve as great exposure for the director, Rahi Anil Barve.

Also included is a Music Video, the Theatrical Trailer (HD), and the European Theatrical Trailer.

Disc Two:

The sole feature here is the Digital Copy.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If you're going to own 2008's Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire (and you should), Blu-ray is the way to go. With great transfers overall and a plethora of bonus features (controversially) missing from the DVD, this Blu-ray edition is a must for any collection.
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