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review added: 4/9/01



Charlie's Angels
Special Edition - 2000 (2001) - Columbia TriStar

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Charlie's Angels Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/A

Specs and Features

99 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:20:44, in chapter 26), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary track (with director McG and director of photography Russell Carpenter), Getting G'd Up featurette, The Master and The Angels featurette, Welcome to Angel World featurette, Angelic Attire: Dressing Cameron, Drew and Lucy featurette, Angelic Effects featurette, Wired Angels featurette, deleted/extended scenes with introductions by the director, outtakes, music videos for Independent Women, Part 1 by Destiny's Child and Charlie's Angels 2000 by Apollo Four Forty, Easter egg behind-the-scenes clips, talent files, production notes, 6 theatrical trailers (for Charlie's Angels, My Best Friend's Wedding, Vertical Limit, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Adventures of Joe Dirt and Final Fantasy), DVD-ROM weblink to official website, animated film-themed menu screens with sound effects and music, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and French, Closed Captioned


"Good morning, Angels..."

Charlie's Angels was a TV show that I hated as a kid. I always found it incredibly silly and could never keep the ever changing stable of "Angels" separated. So it was with much trepidation that I ventured into this film, the latest brand-spanking new big screen version of an old 1970's TV show (it's probably only a matter of time until we see CHiPs: The Movie... God help us all). Director McG has presented the audience with what is still undoubtedly Charlie's Angels. But he (and his amazing cast) has given the tragically '70s TV show a 21st Century sock to the chops. What else would you expect from a guy named McG?

Charlie's Angels is all about breathtaking action sequences, wire-fu ass-kicking and beautiful women. That is to say, it's expertly crafted eye candy and is a surprisingly fun way to spend 99 minutes. If you must be bothered with plot, know that this one is probably a bit too complicated for its own good. But here goes. Multi-millionaire computer mogul Bill Gates… uhh, I mean Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell)... has been kidnapped. Knox's new high-tech invention could mean the end of privacy if it falls into the wrong hands. As the story unfolds, the Angels discover a web of deception that leads them to an assassination plot, and an eventual race against time to foil the bad guys. And that's basically it. It's hard to describe the plot of this film without giving away too much. Suffice it to say that the story here is simply a means of getting into action sequences. That can be a bad thing if the filmmakers take their subject matter too seriously ( Armageddon anyone?). But McG and company had no delusions about what they were creating - an exciting, full-blown action/adventure. As McG himself calls it, a "pop-a-wheelie" kind of flick.

Charlie's Angels would have suffered quite a bit if not for the wonderful ensemble cast. The Angels are presented as three distinctly unique individuals, which helps build the characters and adds an element of variety - something the original TV series sorely needed. Cameron Diaz is Natalie, the beautiful-yet-geeky Angel with a wicked pissah of a roundhouse kick. Drew Barrymore is Dylan, the rough-and-tumble, street smart, bar-brawling Angel. And Lucy Liu plays Alex, an intimidating Angel with ample brains to back up her ample beauty. And Bill Murray plays Bosley, the Angels' lovable sidekick, who acts as a middleman between Charlie and his girls. Murray basically plays himself here and is as funny as ever. I'm sure it didn't take much enticing to get him involved in this film. "Okay Bill, you get to co-star with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. And, oh yeah... they'll be scantily-clad for much of the film." Funny. This flick also gives us a great Crispin Glover sighting. Glover (one of my favorite quirky actors) portrays the bad guy's main henchman, known only as "The Thin Man". Don't expect George McFly from Back to the Future here. Glover has changed his look quite a bit, and appears in this film as a powerful force of a villain. The role is largely physical. But he's just so damn weird… I love it!

As much fun as this film is, it is pretty derivative. The filmmakers borrowed from the Bond series, Mission: Impossible and Austin Powers, with even a fair bit of influence from The Matrix thrown in. If you liked any of those movies, chances are that you'll have fun with Charlie's Angels. This is director McG's first feature film and he shows a great deal of promise as an exciting, young filmmaker. Perhaps next time out, he'll try some more original ideas.

Presented in anamorphic widescreen (framed at 2.35:1), Columbia TriStar once again delivers the DVD goods with Charlie's Angels. If you thought the Austin Powers films were colorful, just wait until you feast your eyes on the multi-hued splendor of Charlie's Angels. The colors on this DVD are bold and vivid, with very little bleeding or over-saturation. Overall picture detail is a bit on the soft side, but during close-up shots, the detail is splendid, revealing all of the wrinkles in the face of an aging Bill Murray and plenty of Lucy Liu's cute freckles. Compression artifacting is very minor, resulting in a picture that will definitely please home theater fans.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is appropriately explosive given the action on the screen. The track is never overpowering - rear speakers aren't used exploitatively for every single effect as one would expect with this kind of film. The track's fidelity though, especially with music, is superb. You get a definite sense of expanded space in the listening area.

Columbia TriStar has provided fans of this film with a full-blown special edition DVD, chock-full o' interesting behind-the-scenes information. First off is a screen-specific commentary track with McG and director of photography Russell Carpenter. This is a very entertaining listen, with a lot of anecdotes and production information. Boy... if only someone in California could harness McG's energy and enthusiasm, they could easily solve the state's growing energy crisis. Next up, you'll find no fewer than 6 featurettes, with running times of 3 to 7 minutes apiece. Getting G'd Up is a tribute to the film's director, with interviews from the cast (discussing how engaging and enthusiastic he is to work with). Just check out our interview with McG to find out for yourself… he really is a great guy. The Master and The Angels featurette is a look at Cameron, Drew and Lucy's conditioning for the martial arts stunts in the film, which were planned by famed wire-fu guru Cheung-Yan Yuen. Welcome to Angel World is a featurette focusing on the production design of the film, while Angelic Attire: Dressing Cameron, Drew and Lucy concentrates on the wardrobe selections for the characters. The Angelic Effects featurette shows how some of the special effects shots were achieved and, finally, the Wired Angels featurette shows us raw footage of the action sequences, before the stunt wires were removed in post-production. Hidden in the special features menu page are a trio of Easter eggs. Two of them are about 90 seconds long and provide additional behind-the-scenes footage. The third Easter egg re-displays a menu screen.

But there's more. A set of deleted/extended scenes is included with introductions by the director. All I'll say is that these scenes were mercifully excised from the final cut of the film. The outtake reel found on the disc is unfortunately identical to the outtakes seen during the ending credits (sans the actual credits). Music videos for Independent Women, Part 1 by Destiny's Child and Charlie's Angels 2000 by Apollo Four Forty also appear on this special edition. Talent profiles, production notes, a link to the film's official website and a myriad of trailers (for Charlie's Angels, My Best Friend's Wedding, Vertical Limit, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Adventures of Joe Dirt and Final Fantasy) round out the supplemental action.

Even if you didn't like the TV show, you shouldn't miss the new, improved Charlie's Angels. Okay... so this film isn't going to make AFI's Top 100 list. But who cares? It never pretends to be anything but a slam-bang, in-your-face action film, and that's exactly what director McG and the film's electrifying cast have delivered. To that, add reference quality DVD treatment (with all of the obligatory supplemental trimmings), and you have yourself a fine evening's entertainment. Give it a spin.

Greg Suarez
gregsuarez@thedigitalbits.com




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