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COLUMBIA TRISTAR

MOVIE INFO
Synopsis:
Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu star as the captivating crime-fighting trio who are masters of disguise, espionage and marital arts. When a devious mastermind embroils them in a plot to destroy individual privacy, the Angels are on the spot with their brains, brawn and high-tech toys. Aided by their loyal sidekick Bosley (Bill Murray), the girls are about to bring down the bad guys when a terrible secret is revealed that makes the Angels a target of assassination. Now, it's a matter of life or death as the stunningly smart detectives use their state-of-the-art skills to kick evil's butt in this sexy, high-octane comedy!

Director:
McG
Cast:
Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bill Murray, Sam Rockwell, Kelly Lynch, Tim Curry, Crispin Glover, Luke Wilson, John Forsythe, Matt LeBlanc, Tom Green, LL Cool J
Writing Credits:
Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon, John August

Tagline:
Get Some Action
Box Office:
Budget $92 million.
Opening weekend $40.128 million on 3037 screens.
Domestic gross $125.238 million.
MPAA:
Rated PG-13 for action violence, innuendo and some sensuality/nudity.

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
Subtitles:
English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Thai
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $24.95
Release Date: 5/27/2003

Bonus:
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Featurettes: Set Design; Fashion; Martial Arts and Stunts; Special Effects; Director McG
• Wired Angels Scene Deconstruction
• Outtakes and Bloopers
• Music Videos
• Theatrical Trailers
• Talent Files
• Sneak Peek at Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
• DVD-ROM Materials
• Weblink


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RELATED REVIEWS


Charlie's Angels: Superbit Deluxe (2000)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 27, 2003)

When I first saw the trailers for the new film version of Charlie’s Angels, I immediately decided that it would either be terrific or it would be terrible. Based on the evidence at hand, it seemed unlikely the movie would occupy any form of middle ground.

During the early segments of the film, I felt that my theory was correct, as Angels begins with a level of campiness and self-reference that was groan inducing. For example, the opening scene takes place on a plane, and the in-flight film is called TJ Hooker: The Movie. We then hear characters complain about “another movie based on an old TV show”. Ugh!

Much of the rest of the film stays well within the boundaries of gleefully over-the-top action, all while it winks at the audience. Although this technique can get old at times, for the most part I thought Charlie’s Angels offered a fairly entertaining and fun experience. Not for a second does it pretend to be part of the real world, and while the self-referential qualities could be a little tiresome, the flick generally stays on the side of acceptable silliness.

Believe it or not, those of us who were kids when Charlie’s Angels became a hit in the mid-Seventies actually used to take that tripe pretty seriously. Heck, everything was broad and goofy back then - it was just the style. However, Angels occupied a special place in the world of unreality. As such, it’s maintained a modest cult following due to its over the top glamour and action. Clearly the makers of the motion picture felt it was best to embrace the show’s excesses and take them even farther, and that means the movie goes way past the TV program in that regard.

As for the plot - does it really matter? In a nutshell, the Angels - Natalie (Cameron Diaz), Alex (Lucy Liu), and Dylan (Drew Barrymore) plus shepherd Bosley (Bill Murray) - take on a case to find a kidnapped software mogul (Sam Rockwell). Some romantic involvements ensue, and plenty of red herrings crop up along the way. Lots of action and mayhem accompany the story.

That’s really about all you need to know, for the plot offers nothing much of interest. Instead, the movie’s all about the production, with one bright and vibrant scene after another. The film exists to put the Angels in a variety of lively situations and have some fun.

In that regard, it generally succeeded. The movie’s action took many cues from flicks like The Matrix and it provided lots of goofy excitement. As action heroines, both Liu and Diaz best fit the roles. Liu has a harsh, dominatrix appeal that makes her interesting to watch as she abuses others, while Diaz seems able to do just about anything. I’m not wild about her bone-thin, bleached blonde look in the film, but as time passes, I become more and more impressed with her skills as an actress. She appears able to do a nice variety of parts, from the ruthless executive of Any Given Sunday to the sweet every-girl of There’s Something About Mary to the nerdy obsessive of Being John Malkovich. Here she goes for a serious Pollyanna vibe as wide-eyed innocent Natalie, but she’s also able to put up a fight with the best of them.

Diaz possesses a strong physicality that the others lack. Liu’s fights worked just because she looked so good in the part, but Diaz backs up her action scenes with fluid movement. As for Barrymore, I thought her bits were the least convincing. Although she’s developed into a lovely young woman, she’s beefier than the other two, and her body seems ill suited for the forms of graceful, smooth fights we find. Drew looks like she’d be more at home in a bar brawl than during her Matrix-esque wirework.

As for the remaining cast, I found Murray to be surprisingly uncompelling as Bosley. Perhaps this is because I expected him to be a real live wire within the movie’s wide-open framework. However, the procession of goofy set-ups into which he’s placed actually seem to constrict him to some degree. I mean, how much can he add to a scene in which he has to don an inflatable sumo wrestler suit? Murray provides a little spark, but this movie’s all about production values and slick presentation, so there’s little opportunity for him to shine.

On the other hand, I continue to be impressed with the work of Rockwell. He’s becoming a versatile semi-chameleon through films like Angels, The Green Mile, and Galaxy Quest. Unlike someone such as Gary Oldman, though, Rockwell doesn’t alter his physical appearance much; he makes the characters seem different through his own personality permutations, which frankly makes the work more impressive. Although he essentially looks the same for his roles, they seem terribly different. I saw The Green Mile and Galaxy Quest very close together last summer, but it wasn’t until I browsed through IMDB that I realized the same actor had been in both. Rockwell does a solid job with the character changes required in Angels and he continues to offer an intriguing presence.

While Angels presents a pretty good cast, the emphasis remains on the production, which is a hyperactive affair that flits about from venue to venue with alarming alacrity. However, I rarely thought the transitions were horribly excessive, and the film’s rapid pacing helps it considerably because it doesn’t allow us to think too much. I know that sounds like a bad thing, but trust me, Angels is one of those movies that you just have to turn off your brain and enjoy; it’s so wildly unrealistic that it makes the Bond films look like documentaries.

One aspect of the series I’d like to see expanded in any sequels would be the backstory. Unlike James Bond, it’s obvious that the Angels are a constantly changing trio, so it’d be fun to hear more about past Angels and the evolution of the group. The films could easily involve ex-Angels, either real (Farrah, Jaclyn, Kate, Cheryl, Shelly or Tanya) or fake (take your pick of older babes). I’d also like to know if the movie’s Bosley is supposed to be the one-and-only, or have there been a few Bosleys over the years, ala “M” in the Bond flicks.

Ultimately, my prediction about Charlie’s Angels wasn’t correct. It was neither great nor terrible. In the end, I found it to be excessively glib and campy at times, but I thought it offered a generally fun and exciting experience that will appeal to most fans of the TV series.


The DVD Grades: Picture A / Audio A- / Bonus B

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 12
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