Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Slumdog meh

Either in response to its Oscar win, or simply because its on my IMDB 250 quest list, on Sunday I watched Slumdog Millionaire. Although I did enjoy it, I have to say I was underwhelmed.

I admit that I had strong expectations for the film. Danny Boyle has a good history as a director (I enjoyed Trainspotting and loved 28 Days Later, although A Life Less Ordinary was mediocre), and it has won just about every award under the sun. I can't really see why though. Its a good film; don't get me wrong. The 2 plot threads (the game show, and the vignettes of his life that lead him there) are woven together nicely. Its very colourful and nicely shot, with great images of Mumbai. The acting never stands out as bad, but nor does it stand out as good. The story bounces along nicely, and doesn't get boring, but on the whole, there isn't anything great about the film. The film is currently at #41 in the Top 250, one place ahead of Vertigo(!), and it just doesn't belong in that company. It felt to me like a solid "nice" film, and if that sounds like damnation with faint praise then it is in reaction to and slight bewilderment at the lavish praise that it seems to have garnered in the wider community and media.

I didn't see many great films in 2008 (or at least, not many great 2008 films), a fact I hope to remedy in the coming months; The Wrestler, Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon and Gran Torino are all on my list. Of those I did see, The Dark Knight is the one I would most definitely class as superior to Slumdog. The story and cinematography were at least on a par, the characterisations were deeper and more complex, and the performances - Ledger's, Eckhart's and even Bale's - were more noteworthy, in a genre that has often been thin on character and always on acting. Although The Dark Knight is undeserving of its #6 position on the IMDB list (which I think will soften over time), it seems like an oversight on the part of the Oscars to have omitted it from the best film nominations, if Slumdog Millionaire is the measure.

Ed: A shout-out to Pete, whose readership I never would have anticipated, and who reminded me that I haven't been posting much recently.


Tinni said...

Clearly you fall in the 6% of people (going by rotten tomato that is) who do not like Slumdog Millionaire. I mean, don't get me wrong. I don't always agree with the Oscar pic. Couple of years back now the Oscar went to Crash, but while it was interesting I am not sure if it was Oscar worthy. On the other hand, I have no doubt that Slumdog was the right choice for this years oscar. But I was kind of surprised and annoyed that Dark Knight wasn't on the best picture list.

Jim said...

Tinni, I'd encourage you to reread my post. Particularly the parts where I said "I did enjoy it" and "its a good film". I clearly *don't* fall into the 6% that don't like the film. I fall into the significantly larger proportion that don't think its a great film.

What did you think of the other Oscar nominees (Milk, The Reader, Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon)?

Anonymous said...

"The Internet has given everybody a voice. For some reason, everybody decides to use that voice to bitch about movies. "

Afe said...

I use the internet to make poop jokes.

Pete said...

Long time reader, first time commenter. Tnanks for the shout-out - most appreciated.