johnlink ranks SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (2008)

It’s been a good couple months for movies. You can usually count on Oscar season for that. January becomes a weird mashing of movies. On one hand you have those which are being held over from December that count for the Oscars, but which are released at a slow pace so that the nominations help create box office sales. On the other hand, you have the late January dumping ground for movies which studios are disappointed in, and which they’ve been holding off for a long time. Sometimes those movies get confused… TAKEN for example, has been delayed for years, is not an Oscar nominee by any standards (from what I hear, I have not seen it), yet it has been able to garner a whole lot of buzz.

But I digress. All I’m trying to say is that there are a whole lot of movies out right now. A great variety. It’s a good time to just head into the theater blindly and pick something. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, for one, is still around. And it is well worth your time.

It is the story of Jamal. He’s a young man who has found success on India’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. But how does a kid from the slums know all these answers? His life story shows us how.

I watched SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (2008) on 2.5.09. It was my first viewing of the film.

NOTE: THIS RANKING UTILIZES THIS SITE’S ORIGINAL SYSTEMIC ARTICLE WRITING METHOD. THE METHOD BY WHICH THE RANKINGS WERE ARRIVED AT, HOWEVER, REMAINS THE SAME.

FILM

I really dig Danny Boyle’s style. He trusts his audience to stay with him, and understands that film and reality do not need a 1:1 ratio. It’s okay for a couple of kids to fall of the top of a train, roll down a dusty hill, and get up to see the Taj Mahal in a flashforward of a few years, the actors having switched to older kids. Is time literal there? Was there a location change? Really, it doesn’t matter. It feels right. In fact, there are a couple other places where I would have liked to see this sort of leap being made. There is a life altering event later in the film which turns young adults into men. I wouldn’t have minded seeing a similar change happen there. But I also understand the power of having kids being the ones doing some of these terrible things. Ultimately, this is a good, solid film. Possibly the grittiest feel-good movie ever. SCORE: 8

MOVIE

The movie moves quickly, though the quirk of the story(involving getting a question asked on the game show and then seeing how he knows the answer) becomes a tad formulaic by the end. I never found myself being pulled out of the movie, but I did feel like the end was coming for a long time, and it was clear what the circumstances around it were going to be. When it does get there, though, it is surprising and satisfying. SCORE: 7

ACTING

Well done, by all involved. The kids are exceptional, and we feel like we grow with them. The lead characters are played by three actors, and it never feels disjointed. The host of Millionaire (Anil Kapoor) was perfect. I will say that some of the villains are cookie cutter, though they were there just to be despised. SCORE: 8

WRITING

The story told was heart-wrenching and well structured. LIGHT SPOILER ALERT: I think it was absolutely awesome that the one thing we see that Jamal learns in school is actually the question he does not know the answer to.

I did, however, wish I got to see a little more of the seedy side of India. We do see what makes these kids turn into criminals, or thieves. We see the desperation to survive. But those in power are painted with broad strokes, and we don’t really see the full picture. Plus, there is a scene of violence in the beginning which is explained by a simple caption which states something along the lines of  “Get them! They’re muslim!” I really would have liked a little more on this. Maybe I’m naive and unworldly, but I didn’t know there was that much brutal religious violence going on in India. I’m ignorant, I know… SCORE: 7

BONUS

The music is splendid. It was Indian pop, mixed with some British Euro stuff, and it just set the perfect tone. I promise I do sometimes give bonus points for things other than music… I’ve just seen a whole lot of musically inspiring movie lately. SCORE: 1

FINAL TALLY

FILM: 8; MOVIE: 7; ACTING: 8; WRITING: 7; BONUS: 1

8+7+8+7+1 = 31

FINAL SCORE: 7.75

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~ by johnlink00 on February 6, 2009.

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