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CHARLIE'S ANGELS
Superbit Deluxe Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Crispin Glover, Kelly Lynch, Tim Curry, Sam Rockwell
Director:  McG
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  Columbia Tri Star
Features:  See Review
Length:  100 Minutes
Release Date:  May 27, 2003

"You have great hands.  I could use someone like you on my staff."

"My hands aren't going anywhere NEAR your staff."

Film ***

Charlie’s Angels opens with an impressive CGI shot of an airplane in flight, allowing the camera to take us from the sky into the cabin interior for a skillful tracking shot.  The film showing in first class is “T. J. Hooker: The Movie”.  One of the passengers groans about yet another old TV show becoming a feature.  This self-depreciating humor immediately explodes into an amazing action sequence that defies all laws of logic and physics, which ends with the introduction to our three heroines, who flip their wet hair in slow motion to the music on the soundtrack while smiling for the camera.

This perfectly set the tone not only for the movie, but for the audience as well.  The film’s tongue was in its cheek, while my jaw was in my lap.

Charlie’s Angels is a movie practically begging for critics to dismantle it.  There’s so many negative things I could say about it that my review could serve as a quarantine notice on the theatre doors…yet I don’t want to.  There’s an infectious spirit to the deliberate campiness of the picture.  The three leading ladies are effectively charming, and inject the proceedings with a sense of fun as they change their sexy outfits more often than Cher in concert, kick major butt with the aid of Matrix style wire effects, and ponder their stations in life (“what would he think if he knew I could crack a block with my forehead?”)

Natalie (Diaz), Dylan (Barrymore) and Alex (Liu) are the Angels, known in the film as a crack secret team employed by the elusive billionaire Charlie, but recognized to audiences as The Blonde, The Redhead and The Brunette, as well as a plethora of other male adolescent fantasies along the way.  They’ve been trained with lethal fighting skills, educated with knowledge of mechanics, physics and chemistry, and equipped with more gadgetry than Q ever dreamed of in order to fight crime in the places the law can’t reach.  The fact that they’re all gorgeous is a superfluous but welcome addition.

There is a plot (of sorts):  after the opening action sequence, the Angels with their trusty sidekick Boswell (Murray) are assigned to investigate the kidnapping of a software giant (Rockwell).  The reason for the kidnapping?  He has developed a highly advanced voice recognition program that can trace anybody anywhere by the sound of their voice.  It doesn’t take long to figure out why such a device is important in this movie…sorry, Charlie, the bad guys are coming for you.

That’s enough to set the girls in motion for one outrageous fight scene and costume change after another.  The Angels gleefully defy gravity and other laws of nature, not with the spiritual elegance of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but with the audacious cheesiness of a superhero serial.  I have to give credit where it’s due, though…the actresses seemed very well trained.  I don’t think I’d want to tangle with them in a dark alley.

But the humor prevails throughout.  This movie never takes itself seriously…so much so that it’s easy to have a mindless good time with it, but it leaves one wondering:  with all the money spent and work involved, was this really all they wanted to accomplish?

Ah, but I think too much.  Watch Charlie’s Angels for the high flying, horizontal kicking fun of it all, and save your mental capacities for A Passage to India instead.

Video ****

From good to great...his is a typically terrific Superbit anamorphic widescreen transfer from Columbia Tri Star.  Images are sharp and crystalline throughout, with a wide, rich color palate from start to finish.  Detail is good and compression evidence is non-existent.  The former release of this title had a slight bit of noticeable grain in a couple of darker scenes; but here, with less compression required, the images have cleaned up beautifully.  The print itself is in top notch shape.  Overall, an exemplary effort.

Audio ****

The 5.1 soundtrack is everything you’d expect from an action film on DVD and then some, with the bonus addition of DTS!  It’s loud, dynamic, and makes full use of discreet channel capabilities!  From the opening shots, it’s clear that this movie is going to be a speaker rattler, and with the many fight scenes in the picture, your system will get a good workout.  Crossover from side to side and front to back is always smooth and effortless, with plenty of explosions and crashes to bring the extra .1 channel into play.  Dialogue is clean and clear throughout, as is the potent music soundtrack, which unashamedly offers every ‘angel’ song in the book (“Angel of the Morning”, “Undercover Angel”, etc.).  A superb listening experience made even better thanks to DTS and the power of Superbit!

Features ***1/2

Being a Superbit edition means that the commentary track from McG has been nixed...too bad, because he made for a fun and enthusiastic listen!  However, his presence is still solidly felt in this disc's supplements.  There are numerous featurettes on the sets, costumes, special effects, wire work and martial arts training the film employed, plus one on McG and his delightfully over-the-top approach to directing.  There are some deleted and extended scenes, along with outtakes (the same ones seen during the end credits).  Plus, there's a sneak preview of the sequel (and a ticket to see it, if you pick up this disc before 7/18/03) with a "Shop the Scene" DVD ROM link.  To top it off, there are two music videos (Destiny’s Child and Apollo Four Forty), trailers, and talent files, plus some very cool animated menus with sound!

Summary:

Charlie’s Angels is good natured, cheesy and self-depreciating fun, anchored by three charming ladies and an enthusiastic director.  It’s no classic, but is more than suitable for a fun night’s home with the disc player, especially with this top quality Superbit DVD offering from Columbia Tri Star.  And don't forget to strap yourselves in for that sequel, Angels' fans!