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Charlie’s Angels (4K Blu-ray Review)

As a kid, Charlie’s Angels was always a staple in my after-school viewing.  Between soaps and the courtroom drama of Judge Judy, the angels always made an appearance.  In my teen years, I was given the modern retread of the show in the movie from 2000 with Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore.  The first movie was fun, funny and well made. While not critically well received, audiences loved it and it spawned a terrible sequel that still managed to win over audiences.  Now, here we are 20 years later and here is the home release of Charlie’s Angels. All joking aside, this film didn’t do well with critics or audiences. I can’t say I disagree with the gripes, but I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying the film.  More on that below! Be sure to click on the paid Amazon link below to order your copy of Charlie’s Angels that will be released March 10th!

Film 

The film opens with Sabina (Kristen Stewart) on a date with seemingly the world’s most desperate guys. He will say anything to even have the thought she’s turned on.  She ends up tying him up, turning him on and locking him down.  As she’s infiltrated this “evil doer’s” lair, she’s done her job as a “decoy” for Bosley (Patrick Stewart) who appears only seconds later with a team of “Angels” who clean up after the mess, the bungee jump and the helicopter flyoff.  Sounds kind of silly right? And it is, too!

After the initial opening, we blow past a strange opening credit to one year later, L.A. Bosley is returning to the Townsend Agency Training Center and it is soon learned that after 40 years, Bosley is retiring. He is greeted by Boz (Elizabeth Banks), another incarnation of the Bosley model. There, it turns out, are many Bosleys worldwide.  They each do the same job – assigning various Angels to people who need their help.  This is where we get a nice tie-in to the original show, the first films (although they’ve erased Bill Murray from the Bosley fold…) and we all celebrate with the Bosleys on his retirement.

Elena (Naomi Scott) has created a self-sustaining power source that has the ability to power a huge space with one small module, known as Calisto.  Tiny problem, though. The Calisto device can also give off a lethal electric charge like an EMP that will kill people that are within a few feet of it.  When Elena tries to tell her boss (Nat Faxon) he brushes it off and refuses to tell the company’s CEO (Sam Claflin).  The Angels and their Bosley (Djimon Hounsou) journey to Hamburg to hear Elena out and help her if they can. This is when we formally meet Jane (Ella Balinska) a former MI-6 Agent who is, among other things, a combat and weapons expert. Things immediately come to a head when an assassin named Hodak (Jonathan Tucker) interrupts their meeting and attempts to kill Elena. He ends up killing Bosley 3.0 in the process.

The Angels take cover in the French countryside and are rescued by Boz who takes them to a special hideout. There, they take comfort in food, wine and each other’s company.  They want to get to the bottom of things, avenge their former Bosley and figure out what the plan is for Calisto.  The Angels’ discoveries end up taking them to Istanbul, where Jane encounters an old friend who comes to their aide. This is also where they discover Fleming (Faxon) who fled there with Calisto in tow.

To go further would spoil the little twist of Charlie’s Angels. To be fair, it wasn’t the hardest plot twist to figure out, but I’m not a fan of spoiling it for everyone.  The film incorporates the Angels with everything we know and love from the show or the films —  Glamourous clothing, flirty doses of comedy (here they fall flatter than they should), good chunks of action, and a big reveal to end it all.  The movie works a lot of the time on the strength of the three leads.  These Angels truly do look like they’re enjoying themselves.  Elizabeth Banks (in her second directorial effort) continues to be a sound filmmaker, despite her screenwriting skills being less than stellar here.

The comedic aspect of Charlie’s Angels has often been a strength, but in this film, I believe that aspect of the show/movies was quite flat. There are maybe two actual laughs to be had in the film, and one of them is with a character called The Saint (Luis Geraldo Mendez) that is not in the movie nearly enough.  He is one of the more refreshing, interesting characters I’ve seen in a movie such as this.  The second is with Elena and has to do with a tranquilizer. Absolutely hysterical.  Those are only two minor moments in a movie that was touted as an action comedy.  The action though rings true, with great fight sequences almost immediately and offered throughout.  No Matrix-style trickery or played for laughs stuff here. Elena even fights her hardest as a novice.  I was happy to see these women expressing hurt and not acting like superheroes.  Realism even in a silly movie like this one is a good thing. There is also a sub-plot (a tiny one at that) involving Langton (Noah Centineo) who is Elena’s assistant.

In all, Charlie’s Angels made a decent attempt at modernizing for 2020.  The film looks good, has a nice score and the song cues from Ariana Grande and Chaka Khan (among others) are also good.  The style of the film is nice too.  It isn’t original, or for that matter super interesting but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it to a point.  It’s fun to see Patrick Stewart have fun. It’s also nice to find newer talent like Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott who I hope to see more of in other movies. The flaw could be simple — Trying to hard could be a factor. Maybe way too many Bosleys… Who knows? If you like other Angels properties, this may be worth a look.  If you go into this expecting more than merely serviceable, you may hate this one.

Video 

  • Encoding: HEVC/H.265
  • Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • HDR: HDR10
  • Clarity/Detail: Charlie’s Angels arrives at the home with a mixed bag in the clarity department. The film opens with a gorgeous, sharp and very wonderful looking scene.  The clarity in the first moments was exceptional in all honesty.  There is a small credit sequence that follows that has some strangely questionable looking stock footage though.  It seems to have been culled from all sorts of sources, but none of them are the sharp 4K look we want.  They’re soft, and I am still trying to figure out just what the hell the images have to do with the film at all.  After that, some moments are sharper and more clear (as in the café, the hideout or during the scenes in Istanbul) while other ones (in the Brock offices, the gym, or in some instances the Townsend training facility) look sort of soft.
  • Depth: Depth is handled better than some of the clarity is. There are better instances of depth, especially in densely populated scenes or in the decorative interiors the Angels are often seen in. This isn’t a 3-D pop type of depth, but it’s pleasing to the eye all the same.
  • Black Levels: Blacks are handled wonderfully. They look nice and deep and dark.  There are no bland-looking blacks and no crush at all.
  • Color Reproduction: Colors look fantastic in this transfer. The overall look of the film is very colorful so it’s a testament to the art direction, costumers and color timers that this is where the disc most certainly shines.
  • Flesh Tones: Flesh tones overall look natural and aren’t blown out in any way.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There were no instances of noise, banding or artifacting to my eyes.

Audio 

  • Audio Format(s): English DTS:X (IMAX Enhanced), French DTS:X, English DVS, French DVS, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
  • Dynamics: I’m beginning to think that IMAX Enhanced could be a gimmick. This DTS:X mix is full, loud and clear. This is typical of most films that are released nowadays (save, sadly for most Disney titles… but who, besides us, is listening…).  The dialogue sounds great and the spatial tonality of the mix is great overall. But that’s not to say much for that IMAX Enhanced tag.  The track is still a 5.1.2 mix that defaults to 7.1 if you’re not set up for Atmos/DTS:X, and it sounds just like most mixes of it’s caliber do too. So for now, from me… IMAX Enhanced = Pssshhhhhhh….Not much.
  • Height: The height channels are used for exactly one instance – A gun is fired in The Angels’ closet and you hear the shot overhead. Literally, that is all for the height channels… one use.
  • Low Frequency Extension: The low end isn’t given a ton of love beyond usage during music cues. One explosion makes something of a rumble, but still, nothing terribly exciting if I’m being honest.
  • Surround Sound Extension: Surrounds are used for many moments in the film – Car chases, horse races, fights, crowd ambience, party noise…. These are the most used speakers besides the main 3.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue sounds great here and works wonderfully at presenting the dialogue front and center. You won’t miss a line.

Extras 

Charlie’s Angels ships with a glossy slipcover, a digital code and a standard Blu-ray (which all the features are housed on.) All features are presented in 1080p and are:

  • Deleted Scenes (5:15): 5 scenes in 5 minutes that are completely useless, add nothing to the film and honestly, nothing to the disc either…
  • Gag Reel (2:44): Unfunny, and very brief
  • Stronger Together – The Sisterhood of The Angels (7:33): About how the cast first came together and their feelings on making the film.
  • Elizabeth Banks as BoSSley (5:17): 5 minutes of love for Elizabeth Banks
  • Warriors On Set: Angels In Action (5:55): About the action scenes of the film
  • Tailored for Danger: Styling The Angels (6:17): About bringing Angels fashion into 2019.
  • “Don’t Call Me Angel” Music Video (3:33): Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey as Angels singing their song.

Summary 

I’ll be honest, when I read about this incarnation of Charlie’s Angels, I rolled my eyes, said “Again??” to myself and swore I wouldn’t bother seeing the film.  This isn’t anything original, or even very new.  The characters have changed, the times have changed, but the song remains the same.  I found myself enjoying this film as I do many films. When you don’t read a lot into it, and keep your expectations low, the film has a way of getting you to root for the girls and enjoy them kicking butt.  That’s the saving grace of this version of Angels. This one is worth a look for fans and is certainly not as bad as it’s being made out to be.  I’m glad I took a look at it, as it grew on me, and I hope the film will find more audiences at home than it did in the theater.

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