They always say the sequel is never as good as the original. But every now and then, a particularly well done part two comes along and disproves that theory. A movie that is light years beyond the original. Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle is not that movie.
At this point in a typical review, you might expect to read a brief synopsis of the film's plot. Unfortunately, I'm not sure there was one. I do know that the Angels, undercover detectives played by Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu, are sent all over the planet to retrieve two stolen rings that have a coded list of powerful bad guys, and that some guy with huge pecs is trying to kill some other guy who turns out to be a kid. There are some other Irish baddies, too, who have ties to Drew Barrymore's character before she became an Angel, but I'm not sure how they're involved with the whole ring thing.
But that's okay. Any ol' plot, even one as anorexic as this one, will do. Just as long as it places the Angels in tight, skimpy outfits, and into some dangerous situations with impossible odds of escape. By these terms, this sequel exceeds all expectations. It's bigger. Louder. Faster. But in order to fit in more explosions, more loud music, and more crazy situations, something had to go. Sadly, it's the fun that's left behind.
Full Throttle simply lacks anything fun. For every action scene, for every piece of comedic dialog, it's easy to sense someone behind the camera asking, "How can we make this bigger? How can we make this louder?" Everything is so overblown, so forced, that it's nearly impossible to be fun. Heck, the Angels don't even have time to get chemistry on screen because of all the jumping and twisting and shooting. This bigger, faster, better mentality pushes the film beyond the realms of credibility, but not quite to the point of out-and-out silliness that makes B movies so fun.
When I popped in this DVD, I figured I'd experience a few jaw dropping moments due to a particularly nice T&A shot. More times than not, however, my jaw dropped at the lack of realism. I couldn't believe it. I don't know much about physics (or the laws of gravity for that matter), but I do know you can't do a back flip off of a motorcycle in mid air, fire a few rounds, then land on the bike to make a perfect landing. I also know that a helicopter falling from a bridge has zero percent change of starting and righting itself before it hits the Earth.
Those of you still reading this review are probably thinking, "C'mon, James. This is Charlie's Angels. Realism doesn't apply." I know, I know. I agree. But the whole time I sat watching this film, I felt as if someone was trying to pull the wool over my eyes and trying to get away with it as plausible. Sure, Full Throttle never takes itself seriously, but it never crosses that line into silly humor that it should have for this craziness to work.
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment presents Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. Detail is generally sharp, blacks are great, and the rest of the color wheel is very vibrant throughout. Although halo issues do creep up on occasion, they rarely pose a problem. However, artifacting is indeed an issue. Some scenes, particularly those awash in bright colors, feature pixelation all over the place. Ouch. Certainly, these scenes are the exception, not the rule, but they're there nonetheless, which keeps this good transfer from being great.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital track sounds great. Although it's not entirely submersive, it does offer a nice amount of rear channel usage for sound effects and music. The music is deep and distinctive. Voices are crisp and never garbled. The explosions and gun fire and all that fun stuff you've come to expect from action movies sounds good, but possibly not as deep as I would've liked. This isn't the best track I've ever heard, but it more than does the job.
THE BONUS FEATURES
The two commentaries on this disc could be best described as for fans only. The first, by director McG, is a little too serious, and I could do without the Telestrator marks, which are more pointless than those made by John Madden. The writer's commentary is a little better since they have a little more fun, primarily focusing on the changes made to certain sequences.
The Angel-vision Fact Track features useless information over the film in fairly hard to read text. The track also allows viewers to access fluffy, small featurettes not available through the menu ("The Cars of Charlie's Angels," "Costuming an Angel," "Angels Makeover: Hansen Dam," "The Look of Angels" and "Short Shot"). Interesting pieces, perhaps, but nothing too in-depth.
Up next are four featurettes that offer a little more than those shown with the Fact Track. "Turning Angels into Pussycat Dolls" shows the Angles becoming a burlesque troupe; "Rolling with the Punches" shows you the ins and outs of setting up the warehouse fight; "XXX-Treme Angels" is all about the motorcross scene; and "Full Throttle" has McG showing off his favorite cars in the film.
The rest of the extras include: a Cameo-Graphy that gives brief info on the celebrities who make cameos in the film and grants access to their scenes in the film; Full Throttle Jukebox showcases the music featured in the film (with McG intro); Pink's music video, "Feel Good Time"; filmographies; five theatrical trailers; and a DVD-ROM game for those with Internet access and a PC.
The menus could've been better, that's all there is to it.
This DVD offers up some nice extra features, a good video transfer, and an even better audio track. Unfortunately, it also comes with a pretty weak film. Fans will show their appreciation for Columbia TriStar's effort on this disc, but everyone else should probably rent it before plucking down cash for a blind buy.