The latest incarnation of Charlie’s Angels attempts to make the series more international, a globe-trotting adventure that ultimately runs out of steam and ideas.
The Production: 2.5/5
Callisto, essentially an Amazon Echo that doubles as a power source, is about to go to market by its manufacturer, until one of its designers, Elena Houghlin (Naomi Scott), tells her boss Peter Fleming (Nat Faxon) that the device has a design flaw that, if exploited, could be used as an EMP that would not only fry anything electronic in its range, but cause anyone nearby to stroke. Fleming tells Elena that it is nothing to worry about and that the company will go ahead with its immediate plans to launch. Not happy about this, Elena meets with Edgar Bosley (Djimon Hounsou) of the Charles Townshend Agency to turn over her findings. Before she is able to do so, she and Edgar are ambushed by assassin Hodak (Jonathan Tucker). Although Elena escapes with the help of two of Edgar’s Angels, Jane (Ella Bsallinska) and Sabina (Kristen Stewart), Edgar is killed, Elena’s USB drive containing the vital evidence is destroyed, and Hodak also escapes. The three girls meet up with the new head Bosley (Elizabeth Banks), who takes them to a safe house for debriefing and regrouping, deciding to break in to Elena’s lab to steal one of the prototype Callisto devices. Somehow, the bad guys appear to be one or two steps ahead of the Angels, almost as if there is a mole.
Charlie’s Angels began as a weekly action TV series in 1976, airing on ABC, and was dubbed by many critics as “jiggle TV” for its numerous shots of the three female leads often dressed in bikinis or other revealing outerwear. In 2000, Drew Barrymore brought Charlie’s Angels to the big screen with co-stars Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu, with music video director McG at the helm. The plot was pure vaporware and the three leads nothing more than sex symbols, and was followed up three years later with the sequel Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, which had an even more incomprehensible plot and felt like a series of quick vignettes than an actual movie. Sixteen years later, and time for a reboot. Enter writer-director Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect 2), who unfortunately, doesn’t bring much of anything new to the table. Ditching the sex symbol stigma of the previous incarnations, Banks takes an almost 180 degree approach. Yes, these girls are much more independent and most certainly are never really used as jiggle bait (to use a non-PC 1970s term). But there is almost a sense of female chauvinism hanging over the entire film, almost proclaiming “girl power” from the instant the movie begins until the closing credits. Worse, with the exception of maybe three characters, there are no positive male figures in this film – nearly all of them are killers, power-hungry ego maniacs, or male chauvinists. The exceptions are Saint (Luis Gerardo Méndez), the Angels version of “Q;” Langston (Noah Centineo), Elena’s boy-toy lab assistant; and Edgar Bosley (Djimon Hounsou), Jane’s boss and personal trainer. Banks, as a director, does have a good eye for some interesting visuals seen throughout the film, but the action sequences feel repetitive, each one following the same formula and having almost the same outcome every time. This new Charlie’s Angels starts out with some fun, but winds up being a lazy bore.
3D Rating: NA
Charlie’s Angels was primarily captured at 3.4K resolution on Arri Alexa Mini cameras with some sequences at 8K on Red Helium cameras, completed as a 2K digital intermediate in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Sony’s 2160p upscale adds HDR10 high dynamic range for this release, and is what one would expect for a new release from Sony. Detail is excellent, particularly in the intricate fabric textures of the costumes, landscaping of the exotic locations, etc. Colors are natural and vivid without appearing overly saturated, with wider gradations of tones when compared to the included 1080p Blu-ray. Contrast is also exceptional, with deep blacks capable of distinguishing black hair and black suits against a black background (check around the 14:00 mark) and bright whites that never clip.
Sony has fitted the UHD release with a very good DTS:X track that provides a wide and expansive soundstage. The overheads and surrounds allow for specific instruments from Brian Tyler’s score to play in precise areas of the listening field. For example, the drums at the 27:03 mark sound as if they are just behind and above you. During that same sequence, the sound of Bosley’s car pans fluidly as the camera moves to locate it. LFE is strong, added some additional emphasis to explosions and the occasional hip-hop song from the soundtrack. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.
Special Features: 2/5
All of the extras can be found on the included 1080p Blu-ray edition.
Deleted & Extended Scenes (1080p; 5:15): Five scenes are included – I’ll Be More Punctual, Incredible Work, This is Why They Call You Angels, I Was Bored and You Got Played, Man.
Gag Reel (1080p; 2:44)
Stronger Together: The Sisterhood of Angels (1080p; 7:33): A look at the three actresses playing the Angels.
Elizabeth Banks: as BoSSley (1080p; 5:17): A look at the film’s quadruple threat, star, writer, director and Producer Elizabeth Banks.
Warriors on Set: Angels in Action (1080p; 5:55): A look at the many stunt sequences from the film.
Tailored for Danger: Styling the Angels (1080p; 6:17): A look at the film’s costume design.
Don’t Call Me Angel Music Video Featuring Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus & Lana Del Rey (1080p; 3:53)
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy (in UHD where available) on Movies Anywhere.
Charlie’s Angels looks and sounds great on UHD Blu-ray, as one would expect from Sony. The movie, though, is a bit of a dud.