There’s little chance that you haven’t heard of Slumdog Millionaire by now. This sleeper smash hit stole the hearts and minds of audiences around the world, snapping up a bunch of Oscars in the process.
The film, brilliantly crafted by director Danny Boyle (28 days later, Trainspotting) is a story of love, devotion and fate told through an extraordinary string of correct answers by a contestant on the Indian version of “Who wants to be a Millionaire”. The contestant, Jamal Malik, grew up in the slums of Mumbai and through a series of tragedies, misadventures, scams and violence finds himself searching for Latika, the women he has loved since he was a boy.
As the questions are asked on the show, Jamal knows all the answers prompting claims by the local police that he must be cheating. The film unfolds as Jamal explains how he knew the answers to the questions, delving into his past and finally bringing the audience into the present as the final question is asked and he puts everything on the line to save the women he loves. It is an incredibly moving film told with a deep respect for Indian culture but without shying away from the harsh realities of the country either. It is, at times, irreverent and at others heart wrenching. Most of all, it has a message of hope, delivered through superb performances, direction and cinematography.
The Blu-ray transfer is crisp without any issues during the day scenes and interior sequences but some of the night scenes tended to be a little grainer than they were at the cinema. It’s only a minor blemish though and for the most part, the master has been done very well.
The audio is encoded in 5.1 DTS-HD master audio and faithfully reproduces the films excellent audio design. The subtle audio intricacies of each location in the film allow the audience to feel invested in the core emotion of the plot. This is achieved through brilliant placement of ambience in the surround channels that help to recreate the bustling chaos of each scene. The score never drowns out the dialogue and at all times the balance between folly, voice and music is handled with loving precision.
The features includes an excellent audio commentary track from director Danny Boyle and lead actor Dev Patel (Jamal). You can really tell that both these men, as well as the entire crew, felt deeply about their subject matter and loved the experience of making the film. The two are clearly great friends and have a charm and wit that make the commentary highly enjoyable to listen to. The second commentary track by producer Christian Colson and writer Simon Beaufoy isn’t quite as enticing but is still provides a great deal of insight into how the film came to be and became what it is.
There is also a great behind the scenes feature as well as a break down from screenplay to final scene. 12 deleted scenes are included as well. Thankfully none of them are anything that give you that “damn why didn’t they leave that in” feeling but they do provide a minor level of insight and, at times, clarification. A music video is included as well together with a short film by an Indian filmmaker. The short film seems a little out of place but it is quite enjoyable to watch nonetheless.
Slumdog Millionaire isn’t the type of Blu-ray film you would buy to show off how good Blu-ray can look simply because the film itself was shot both on film and digital cameras making it a slightly uneven mix of ultra detailed and somewhat gritty depending on the scene. It works brilliantly in the context of the film and the Blu-ray transfer has reproduced this effect perfectly. If you haven’t seen the film, you should definitely check it out. For those that fell in love with it, the Blu-ray release is easily worth picking up. It has enough features to make it worth forking out your hard earned dollars and looks much better on Blu-ray than its DVD counterpart.