Charlie’s Angels appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As one might expect from a recent, big-budget flick, the picture looked absolutely stunning, with almost no problems on display.
Sharpness seemed immaculate at all times. Never did I discern any soft or hazy shots, as the movie consistently appeared crisp and detailed. Moiré effects and jagged edges looked absent from the screen as well, and I also noticed no signs of edge enhancement. Print defects were almost totally non-existent. I detected one or two specks during the film, but that was it. Otherwise the image seemed completely clean and fresh.
Colors appeared quite dazzling, as the movie offered a broad and bright palette. From the vivid hues that frequently populated the film to the warm golden tones often added to the shots, the colors always came across as vibrant and accurate, with no problems related to bleeding, noise or smearing. Black levels were deep and rich, and shadow detail seemed appropriately heavy but never excessively dark. Ultimately, Angels provided a terrific image that appeared consistently excellent.
Also very strong were the Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks of Charlie’s Angels. To these ears, the pair sounded identical except for in one area: volume. The DTS track seemed substantially louder than did the Dolby one. When I switched between the two, I needed to make major alterations in volume levels. With those changes enacted, however, the two sounded very similar.
The soundfields offered a solid environment that kept the action flying hot and heavy throughout most of the movie. The front spectrum contributed good stereo separation for the music plus realistic and engaging localization for effects, all of which blended together very cleanly. I also heard occasional bits of dialogue from the sides, and these were integrated well. The rear channels contributed lots of discrete audio of their own, as they used both effects and music to keep me involved in the action.
Actually, although the effects seemed loud and engaging, the music really functioned as the star of the auditory show. Angels provides an almost non-stop array of score and pop songs; the credit list at the film’s end seemed to run for hours. Though the presentation can be over the top, the use of music usually worked well for the movie, and the manner in which all five channels blasted the songs made them even more effective.
Audio quality also seemed terrific. Dialogue appeared crisp and natural, with no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects sounded realistic and accurate; they portrayed fairly good depth and lacked any distortion. Music appeared clear and bright, with clean highs and acceptably rich lows. If I have one complaint about the soundtrack, it stems from bass response. Low end seemed positive, but it didn’t come across quite as deep as I expected. Clearly the film offered good bass, but I thought this aspect should have been stronger. In any case, the overall impression offered by the soundtracks of Charlie’s Angels was very pleasing, as the mixes worked well for the material.
Though this Superbit DVD is supposed to improve on the picture and audio quality of the original release, I didn’t detect any substantial changes. I suppose the visuals might seem a little tighter here just due to the increase in bitrates, but the old disc looked awfully good, so there wasn’t a lot of headroom available.
While most Superbit DVDs totally omit extras, Charlie’s Angels comes as part of the “Superbit Deluxe” line. That means it includes almost all of the supplements from the prior disc. These appear on DVD Two, where we open with a two-minute and 35-second Sneak Peek at Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. This mixes clips from the movie with some shots from the set and soundbites from director McG and actors Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Demi Moore and Bernie Mac. A nearly total waste of time, the participants simply tell us how great the movie will be – no actual information appears in this glorified trailer.
After this, we discover a slew of featurettes. Rather than provide one all-encompassing documentary, the extras nibble away at a wide variety of smaller subjects in these short and fluffy programs. Probably the most superficial of the bunch is the first, Getting G’d Up, which discusses hyperactive director McG. This six and a half minute piece features sound bites with a variety of cast and crew members plus some shots from the set. Almost invariably, the comments tend toward excessive praise, which is what makes a few more irreverent remarks from Bill Murray more enjoyable. It’s not much of a featurette, but Murray’s riffing helps make it more compelling.
Much better is the next program, The Master and the Angels. This seven minute and 20 second piece focuses on the work of fight choreographer Cheung-Yan Yuen and provides a nice look at those elements of the process. Especially interesting are all of the solid behind the scenes shots available in this featurette.
The next few programs each focus on different areas of the film. Welcome to Angel World lasts four minutes and 45 seconds and concentrates on production design, while the three minute and 25 second Angelic Attire: Dressing Cameron, Drew and Lucy looks at costuming for the main characters and a few others as well. Angelic Effects provides a six minute and 40 second discussion of the film’s special effects. All are superficial but entertaining and interesting pieces.
More fun is Wired Angels, a raw look at the movie’s alley fight sequence. In this two and a half minute piece, we see that scene prior to wire removal and with the natural production sound. It’s a cool way to view this aspect of the movie-making process.
Next up are three Deleted and Extended Scenes. We get a cut segment in which Bosley plays Marco Polo with Corwin (75 seconds), plus another edited sequence in which Dylan and Natalie are dressed as men; they toy with Corwin in a men’s room (90 seconds). The final scene is the only extended one; it shows additional romance between Dylan and Knox (100 seconds). Each of these includes an introduction from McG, and he provides some closing comments as well.
Outtakes and Bloopers proved to be a disappointment. All this two minute and 35 second clip offers is the same material found in the closing credits sans the actual text; even the song that runs over the credits remains the same, and it prevents us from hearing any additional audio snippets. Unfortunately, we find nothing new here, so I’m not sure what the point of this piece was.
Two music videos appear on this DVD. We get a clip for “Independent Woman Part 1” from Destiny’s Child, and “Charlie’s Angels 2000” from Apollo Four Forty. Both videos follow the usual “clip-synch” formula; they combine shots of the respective acts performing the songs with snippets from the movie.
Both tunes and videos were pretty lame. The DC clip was probably better, as it at least showed a little creativity; we find some shots of the singers at “Angels Training Camp”. Nonetheless, the song was tired and grating, and the video showed no great flair. The A440 bit was a total loss. The tune is just an annoying update of the show’s theme, and the video just made the band members look like obnoxious imbeciles. By the way, these are the same guys who did the theme song update for Lost In Space - do they ever produce music that isn’t related to a movie based on a TV show?
The Talent Files area provides the usual painfully brief biographies. Here we find listings for director McG plus actors Diaz, Liu, Barrymore and Murray. The Trailers section includes ads for Angels plus its sequel Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and the Martin Lawrence vehicle National Security.
Lastly, the DVD includes some short but interesting production notes in its booklet plus a few Easter Eggs. Here are the three I could find, all of which are available in the “Special Features” area. From the “Wired Angels” listing, click to the left and you’ll be able to access shots of Barrymore getting a head cast made. Go right from “Getting G’d Up” and you can go to a short montage of Angels hair flipping moments. Finally, if you land on the final page of “Special Features”, click right from the “<” icon and you can get 75 seconds of additional outtakes.
Finally, Disc Two tosses in some DVD-ROM features. We get a game called “Angel X”. Unfortunately, when I perused the site, it was still in the “coming soon” stage. The link to a Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle “animated adventure” also didn’t work, but when I used the connection to the Full Throttle main site, I was able to get to the cartoon from there. “Shop the Scene” also didn’t function for me.
What does the Superbit DVD omit from the old one? The main casualty is an audio commentary from director McG and cinematographer Russell Carpenter. However, this isn’t a terrible loss, since the track was fairly average. In addition, the Superbit set leaves out some text production notes.
Ultimately, Charlie’s Angels provides a pretty entertaining experience. At times it tries too hard to be clever or witty, but for the most part it obtains a nice balance between over-the-top campiness and fun action. The DVD offers excellent picture and sound plus a slew of small but interesting extras.
For Angels fans, the question becomes one of which version to own. If you don’t have either, I’d probably recommend the Superbit edition. Picture and sound were at least as good as the old one, and some viewers may like it more due to the higher bit rate and addition of DTS audio. The package loses an audio commentary but keeps almost all the other extras from the first release, so the difference in supplements seems minor. I don’t think folks who own the original will want to replace it with this one, but first-time purchasers should grab the Superbit release.