Slumdog Millionaire 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. Only a few mild concerns cropped up in this generally strong presentation.
For the most part, sharpness looked good. I noticed a smidgen of softness in some wide shots, but these instances remained minor. Overall, the movie boasted good delineation and clarity. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and edge enhancement appeared to be absent. I witnessed no source flaws; grain occasionally looked somewhat heavy, but that stemmed from the photographic choices.
In terms of colors, Slumdog went with a stylized palette. The movie featured a lot of hot yellows, and the game show shots favored a chilly blue. Within the constraints of the color selections, the hues seemed well-reproduced. Blacks were tight and deep, and shadows showed nice clarity and smoothness. The smattering of slightly soft shots left this transfer short of “A” level, but it was good enough for a “B+”.
As a character drama, I didn’t expect from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Slumdog. To my surprise, the audio provided a dynamic and involving affair. Even quieter scenes boasted a good sense of ambience, while many others featured a lot of activity. This meant bustling street scenes packed with various vehicles that swarmed around us and created a fine sense of the dense environments.
Music acted as a strong participant as well. The score and songs played a significant role and formed an active part of the mix. Surround usage was consistently positive, as the back speakers added a lot to the experience.
Audio quality always seemed satisfying. Some issues with intelligibility resulted from accents, but the lines themselves were recorded well and seemed natural. Music was lively and full, as both score and songs showed excellent vivacity and definition. Effects appeared accurate and dynamic, with crisp highs and deep lows. This was a surprisingly excellent soundtrack.
When we shift to extras, we start with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Danny Boyle and actor Dev Patel, both of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They discuss sets, locations and shooting in India, cast and performances, cinematography and editing, story issues and pacing, music, and cultural elements of the piece.
While Patel throws in the occasional useful observation, Boyle dominates this track. And that’s fine with me, as the director offers a strong look at the film. He gives us a good overview of the various production topics and makes sure the commentary moves at a nice pace. Overall, this turns into a solid discussion of the movie.
For the second commentary, we hear from producer Christian Colson and writer Simon Beaufoy. They offer a running, screen-specific piece that examines many of the same topics as the first track, though it focuses a bit more on the script and the adaptation of the source work. Combined with occasional dead air, the moderate redundancy makes this commentary less than enthralling. We get some good insights about subjects like the movie’s title and Beaufoy’s research, but there’s not a ton of fresh information here.
12 Deleted Scenes run a total of 33 minutes, 35 seconds. These include "Chase Through Slums – Longer Version" (4:38), "Boys At Container Yard/Beanbags/Yellow Dress" (2:04), "Prem at Police Station" (2:43), "Frederick Stevens Question" (4:39), "Jamal at Opera, Boys Leave Agra" (3:58), "Jamal Searches, Finds Arvind" (1:28), "Chowpatty Beach and Tulip Star" (1:59), "Jamal Returns to Tulip Star" (0:30), "Jamal Wakes in Slum" (1:39), "’Why Can’t You Leave It Alone’" (1:16), "Jamal Loses Latika, Calls Salim" (1:40) and "The Folder" (7:00).
Don’t expect anything in the form of lost treasure here. Mostly we get more of a) the brothers’ conflicts, and b) Jamal mooning over Latika. Yawn – we get too much of those topics in the final film. The most interesting clips involve Prem ("Police Station" and "Stevens Question"), mostly because he’s a more compelling character than dishwater dull old Jamal; I’d rather see a movie about the arrogant game show host than one about this boring "slumdog".
Two featurettes follow. Slumdog Dreams: Danny Boyle and the Making of Slumdog Millionaire runs 22 minutes, 56 seconds and features Boyle, Colson, Beaufoy, Patel, and actors Freida Pinto and Anil Kapoor. "Dreams" looks at the project’s adaptation and development, what brought Boyle onto the project, story and characters, cast and performances, shooting in India, the musical number, and some technical aspects of the production.
Because we already went through two commentaries, we don’t find a lot of fresh information here. Still, "Dreams" acts as a good recap of various topics, and it comes with some nice footage from the set. I especially like the shots of Boyle as he works with the film’s young actors. "Dreams" gives us a decent examination of the production.
Finally, Slumdog Cutdown fills five minutes, 34 seconds with music. Essentially it acts as a cut-rate music video; it mixes movie clips with the song "Jai Ho". It’s forgettable.
A few ads open the DVD. It includes promos for Notorious, S. Darko, Bottle Shock and The Other End of the Line. No trailer for Slumdog appears.
I’ll leave it to history to judge how Slumdog Millionaire will eventually compare to its Best Picture-winning peers. Unfortunately, my gut says it won’t stand up well among its competition. Slumdog seems relentlessly mediocre, as it tells a predictable story about two-dimensional characters in an unspectacular way. The DVD offers excellent audio, positive picture and a generally good set of extras. Its status as an Academy Award winner means Oscar fans will want to give Slumdog a look, but don’t expect anything more than an average piece of fluff.
Footnote: Fox released a "rental version" of Slumdog that eliminates the extras found on the retail edition. The studio goofed and released a number of "rental copies" in the retail packaging. If you get one of the rental discs when you buy Slumdog, you can get a replacement by calling 1-888-223-4FOX (4369).