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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Charlie's Angels (2000)

"Once upon a time there were three very different little girls who grew up to be three very different women with three things in common: they're bright, they're beautiful, and they work for me. My name is Charlie."
- Charlie (John Forsythe)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: March 12, 2001

Stars: Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore
Other Stars: Bill Murray, Sam Rockwell, Tom Green, Kelly Lynch, Crispin Glover
Director: McG

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence, innuendo, and some sensuality/nudity
Run Time: 01h:38m:05s
Release Date: March 27, 2001
UPC: 043396060173
Genre: action comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- BAA A-

DVD Review

I remember when the Charlie's Angels teaser trailer hit the web. People took one look at the brief, one-minute spot that features the stars doing kicks in front of a trippy background, and proclaimed the film the suckiest movie in Sucksville. I didn't really understand the bitter hatred leveled toward these fine young ladies. All I saw were pretty faces and a hint of camp; just the right feel for a film based on a bubblegum Aaron Spelling TV series from the 1970s.

Cut to the film's release: Internet fans are basically happy with the film, finding it fun, if a bit on the light side. Of course, once I saw the movie for myself, I could easily share this enthusiasm. Despite some flaws here and there, Charlie's Angels is the definition of escapism and a great way to relax and rest your brain.

As I'm sure you know, the famed Charlie (John Forsythe) is the man (or rather, the voice) who hires beautiful women to fight crimes and thwart villains and such. Already I love it. It's just like V.I.P! His Angels are Natalie (Cameron Diaz), Dylan (Drew Barrymore), and Alex (Lucy Liu). The three are called into action when they are hired to solve a kidnapping case. It seems Roger Corwin (Tim Curry) has his eye on some new-fangled voice tracking software and is ready to break the law to get it. He kidnaps billionaire inventor Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell), and it's up to the Angels to blah blah blah rescuecakes. Of course, they have to solve the case first, and to do that they'll need the help of Bosley (Bill Murray), and a little thing called (sniff!) teamwork.

This film runs along the lines of something like Men in Black. There is just a loose plot to string together cool visuals and nifty action sequences. That task is certainly accomplished here. There are quite a few great moments for the three stars. The director, McG, got his start in music videos and commercials, and that flashy style really adds to the campy, refreshing feel of the film. He has created a bright, colorful alternate reality, where women have beautiful smiles and cars go really, really fast. Not three minutes in, we are treated to loving slow-motion shots of Lucy Liu flipping her hair and beaming into the camera. The first major scene with Cameron Diaz is priceless. She wakes from a complex Busby Berkeley dance/ dream sequence only to continue the performance in her bedroom, in her underpants (which have Spider Man on them). Ah, the joy of UnderRoos. Drew has her moments as well, particularly in a scene where she has to distract a man with her "bounteous cleavage " ("Oops, I've come undone!").

The action sequences are very entertaining, particularly the first, when the Angels face off against The Creepy Thin Man (Crispin Glover, creepy in his own right). There is a lot of wirework ala The Matrix, but it is done in an even more outrageous style. Slow motion is used very effectively. This is perhaps the most visually entertaining fight I have ever seen. It comes very close to replicating the experience you'd get with a comic book, complete with freeze-framing in action poses.

The three leads are all very good. Drew Barrymore is the rash, tough girl; Lucy Liu is more reserved and refined; and Cameron Diaz is blissfully naive. All are very entertaining to watch and all certainly have their moments, but the film really belongs to Diaz. She really gave herself over completely to the cluelessness of her character. She sparkles (ooo!) in every one of her scenes. The supporting cast is good, but not given a lot to do. Tim Curry is woefully underused, as is Bill Murray, who sort of sleepwalks through his part (but he's still funny). Crispin Glover is a real standout as The Creepy Thin Man, however. He speaks nary a syllable, but has given the character a quirky, offbeat physical presence that really fills the screen. You know, with menace and such.

There are certainly some problems with the film. As fast-paced as it is, certain sections seem to drag a bit. Several of the jokes fall flat. The narrative is a bit choppy at times. Still, the inventive action sequences, the arresting visual style, and especially the engaging performances from Liu, Barrymore, and Diaz make this well worth a look for those wishing to shut of brain activity for a couple of hours. It plays not as a parody, but more as an homage to the bubbly charm of the original series, and it succeeds swimmingly.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: This is everything you could expect from a new transfer. The colors look fabulous, very rich and clean. Digital artifacts are nonexistent. Black level looks very good. At times, some of the colors in the foreground seem to pop off the screen, giving some shots a fakey, processed look, but that isn't a fault of the transfer; it was an intentional choice by the director and the DP. As would be expected for a brand new film, the print used for the transfer was flawless as well, with nary a scratch or speck. I really can't find anything negative to say.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: This is a very dynamic track, even for an action film. A colorful, active sound mix matches the color on the screen. The front soundstage is very wide and blends seamlessly with the surrounds, which are a constant presence, whether they are enhancing the score, providing ambient effects, or filling out an action sequence. Clear separation between the channels allows for some very cool panning and directional effects. Dialogue is clear and crisp, as are the sound effects. There is also quite a bit of bass in the action scenes, especially the first major fight sequence. This is easily one of the better mixes I have had the opportunity to review.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
2 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring My Best Friend's Wedding, Vertical Limit, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Adventures of Joe Dirt, Final Fantasy
3 Deleted Scenes
Production Notes
6 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director McG and cinematographer Russell Carpenter
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Outtakes and bloopers
  2. Destiny's Child, Independent Women Part 1; Apollo Four Forty, Charlie's Angels 2000
Extras Review: Columbia TriStar has really packed the extras onto this disc, and I suspect anything you want to know about the film is covered somewhere. First of all, I have to comment on the menus. They are very colorful and dynamic, blending film footage and CG effects seamlessly. Definitely some of the coolest and most navigable I have seen lately.

Most fufilling is the commentary track, featuring McG and the cinematographer Russell Carpenter. Both trade off comments, but McG does most of the talking. His energy and love for the project both seem endless, and there isn't a second of downtime for the entire track. It varies between technical details on how shots were accomplished to on set anecdotes about the actors. Overall, this makes for a worthwhile listen, but McG goes a little overboard at times, comparing the film to Scorsese and such.

For this release, the studio has opted to include several short featurettes, as opposed to a longer documentary. Incidentally, they do this because anything the actors do for a project that is under 30 minutes is considered promotional. Over that limit, and the studio has to fork out more cash. Thus, short little featurettes. However, I believe this style suits this particular movie very well; the idea of an hour-long Making of a Masterpiece: The Charlie's Angels Story is a bit ludicrous, wouldn't you say?

Included are six short pieces, each running from 3-6 minutes.

Getting G'd Up covers the director, the mysterious McG, who eats McDonalds and listens to McHammer. Basically it involves interviews with the cast and crew, gushing over how enthusiastic he is. Really, I think they are just covering for the fact that he is as hyperactive as a three year old (and it shows on film!).

The Master and the Angels explains how fight choreographer Cheung-Yan Yuen, brother of the famous Woo-ping Yuen (The Matrix) trained the three stars to do the harness work and fight realistically.

In Welcome to Angel World, McG explains his desire to create a synthetic, hyper-realistic "Angel World," full of color and really hot women. Sounds nice.

Angelic Attire briefly covers the many costumes Drew, Lucy, and Cameron wear, from rock outfits to army fatigues.

Angelic Effects (don't worry, still plenty of Angel puns left) is the longest of the bunch, going into some of the more complicated effects work done for the film.

Finally, Wired Angels covers some of the same material as the stunt piece, and details the extensive wirework employed for the fight scenes.

Moving out of the featurettes section, there are also three deleted scenes included in good, but obviously unpolished, form. "Marco Polo" is an amusing Bill Murray scene that I think was unjustly cut, since it explains a later joke in the film and is pretty funny by itself. "The Men's Room" was to take place during the scenes with Barrymore and Diaz in drag. It was a stupid, obvious joke, and I'm glad it was cut (especially since the costumes were dumb). "Extra Shake and Bake" is ok, but I can see why this short dance/romance scene between Barrymore and Rockwell was cut; it would really slow down the pacing of this section of the film.

The Outtakes and Bloopers section seems like it'd be fun, but this is actually just the credit sequence with the credits removed. Nothing new is featured that wasn't seen already in the theatrical release. Why even stick it on there? Two music videos provide us all with our daily recommended dose of sassy pop music. Destiny's Child (Sho' 'nuff!) has taught us all to be Independent Women Part 1 with this glossy piece. Apollo Four Forty tried to bring the theme song into the next century with Charlie's Angels 2000, but they needn't have bothered.

Finally, rounding up this batch of crazy Angel love, are some brief talent files and a trailer gallery. In addition to the Charlie's Angels teaser and trailer are five bonus previews for past and upcoming releases. Make sure not to miss Final Fantasy... ooh, priddy!

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

You know, Charlie's Angels wasn't really a great TV show; it was just mindless escapism with some nice eye candy. In light of the source material, I can't see hating this movie. Sure, it is meaningless, but it is also stylish, visually exciting, and pretty funny to boot. Plus, it has three of the most beautiful women in Hollywood in starring roles, which is never a bad thing. Don't listen to Ebert (who gave the film a star). Coupled with his reviews for Bring It On and Erin Brockovich, it's obvious he's just afraid people will think he's in it for the boobies.

 


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