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MILLIONS

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: James Nesbitt, Daisy Donovan, Alex Etel, Lewis McGibbon
Director: Danny Boyle
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 98 Minutes
Release Date: November 1, 2005

“What did you bring a thousand pounds to school for? Can’t you see that’s suspicious?”

“It’s not suspicious, it’s unusual.”

Film ***1/2

When one thinks of Danny Boyle, they may not first associate the British filmmaker with any stories involving a child’s fantasy. After all, this is the director who has specialized in making such bizarre films like the Trainspotting, The Beach and 28 Days Later, one of the best made horror films in years. And yet Boyle’s latest film, Millions, is one of the more delightful family-friendly films to come around in some time.

Actually, Boyle’s momentary turn to family-friendly fare is a reminder that even the darkest of filmmakers have a soft, bright spot within them. After all, who could’ve suspected that David Lynch could make a G-rated film like The Straight Story? And who would’ve guessed that David Mamet could’ve done the same with The Winslow Boy?

The story is one of pure heart and mystery. It involves two brothers named Damian (Alex Etel) and Anthony (Lewis McGibbon), who have moved into a new house with their father (James Nesbitt). One day, as he is playing on railroad tracks, Damian makes a startling discovery; a bag containing up to 229,000 pounds.

Damian tells his brother about the money, and they instantly agree to inform absolutely no adults about what has been found. But then the two disagree on what to do with the money. Anthony, the older of the two, thinks it should be used specifically for material possessions. However Damian, who thinks the money is a gift from God, feels that the money should be given to the less fortunate.

Despite Damian’s spiritual thoughts on the money, there may just be Earth-bound criminals in search of the loot. No matter what the case, Damian gets numerous visits from Saint Francis, who then advises Damian to proceed with his wishes to give the money to the poor. But Anthony warns him that while it’s a good deed, throwing this amount of money around may draw the kind of attention that they don’t want.

Without spoiling any of the details, let me just say that Millions is one delightful and magical film. It just happens to be a piece of family entertainment that doesn’t rely on juvenile kiddie antics like so many films of the genre. Boyle has kept of heavy dose of intelligence in the story, along with supplying a truly fantastic message in the end.

A great film for both kids and adults, Millions is grand and most original child’s fantasy brought to the screen.

Video ****

Fox’s anamorphic handling of this visually engaging film is a pure treat for the eyes. Boyle has loaded the screen with many bright colors, and the result is nothing short of amazing. The image quality is nothing but consistent clarity, with some fantastic color treatment. It’s one visual presentation you’re sure to remember.

Audio ***1/2

The 5.1 mix supplies some very effective moments, in particular many sequences where Damian visualizes certain events happening through his imagination. Dialogue is delivered as clear as can be, and momentary music playback is nicely heard as well.

Features ***

Included is a commentary track by Danny Boyle and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce, deleted scenes and a behind the scenes featurette.

Summary:

As far as family-fare is concerned, Millions is one of the absolute best to come around in some time. It’s simply a wonderful story with a terrific message behind it. With this film, Danny Boyle has upped his filmmaking game big time.

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