Charlie's Angels Review

Rewatching Charlie’s Angels, I returned to a question that has plagued me for some time – are some directors unfairly maligned? I reviewed the body of Brett Ratner’s commercial work some time ago and while no name in fan communities receives so much acidic retort as Ratner’s, even Joseph McGinty Nichol’s (McG) pseudonym can keep forum harpies awake and spilling so much ire late into the night. His name seems to hint at what his oeuvre delineates – hip, stylish entertainment without much strain on the brain cell.

A former record producer and music video helmer who has returned to the format a couple of times after becoming a full-fledged director, McG was handed something precious with Charlie’s Angels – the keys to a franchise, both a blessing and a curse. Given the films that McG would follow this one with, Charlie’s Angels is the definitive crown jewel of the director’s career thus far. Many would be tempted to say that honor goes to We Are Marshall. Despite the director’s maturation overtime, I think films should not be appreciated for subverting poor expectations (lets be fair, no one expected elegantly handled drama out of McG after Full Throttle). The less said about Terminator Salvation the better, and so we jump into the director’s first and overall best film.

In bringing the Angels to the big screen, McG cast three of the most popular actresses at the time – Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu. While Liu has largely stayed away from the silver screen in the last few years, Barrymore and Diaz are still capable of bringing in an audience on star power alone. Presiding over the Angels and acting as right-hand man to the unseen father figure Charlie is Bosley, here (in a casting stroke of genius) played by Bill Murray. Murray is a highlight of the film, bitingly witty and well aware he’s playing a second string role in an easy-on-the-brain action-heavy blockbuster.

Equally capable actors fill in other notable parts. Sam Rockwell is appropriately sleazy as millionaire villain Eric Knox, all confidence whilst flaunting an oily appeal, a performance that no doubt helped the excellent actor land future parts. Tim Curry shows up briefly but the always-charming actor makes a mark as an equally pretentious and portly Roger Corwin, Knox’s primary economic opponent. Finally, Crispin Glover makes a surprising appearance as the Thin Man, an assassin concocted seemingly from McG’s desire to flaunt kung-fu and Glover’s need to indulge in some kind of thoroughly disturbing fetish (in this case inhaling the aroma of Barrymore’s hair…after ripping strands of it from her head). Luke Wilson also pops up as Diaz’s love interest, clueless and serving straight man duties.

The plot, involving a double cross, technology falling into the wrong hands and the Angels recruited to rescue a millionaire held captive is essentially window dressing and one cannot fault McG for indulging in absurdly over-the-top action set pieces, ranging from a skydiving terrorist disarmament to a face off between two racecars on a conspicuously empty highway.

The Blu-ray transfer is an improvement on the DVD, with a vibrant color scheme winning over crisp visuals in a film that is a decade old. Audio is just fine for a film that is meant to be played loud.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

No surprises here as the Blu-ray features all of the DVD extras included on the original release, without any upscaling. Three deleted scenes show up in HD, but that’s it. Nevertheless, the extras, even in standard def, are very impressive. Six features briefly cover most aspects of production, from training to wardrobe to wire-work for the significantly dated fight scenes. Also included are outtakes and bloopers, two music videos - "Independent Women Part 1" by Destiny's Child and "Charlie's Angels 2000" by Apollo Four Forty, and Sony's movieIQ function, which I’m ambivalent about.

"Charlie's Angels" is on sale August 3, 2010 and is rated PG13. Action, Comedy. Directed by McG. Written by Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon, John August, Ivan Goff (TV Series), Ben Roberts (TV Series). Starring Bill Murray, Cameron Diaz, Crispin Glover, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Sam Rockwell, Tim Curry.

Mark Zhuravsky • Staff Writer

I'm a prolific blogger, writer and editor who loves film.


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