The latest film from director Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting", "The Beach") is a much more family-oriented feature, focusing on two kids - Damian (Alex Etel) and his older brother, Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) - who find themselves with a massive bag of cash when said bag comes flying off a speeding train near their home and lands square on Damian's cardboard fort. After a lengthy discussion that includes the fact that no adults whatsoever can be informed of their findings - even their father (James Nesbitt).
The two debate about how they want to spend the money, but there's a time limit - the day is coming up when the money will change over to the Euro. Anthony wants to hit the real estate market and buy status at school, while Damian believes it's a gift from God (throughout the film, he sees different Saints) and would rather give it to the poor. Although it's predictable that the money is stolen and the person who stole it will eventually come looking for it, "Millions" otherwise veers off in unexpected and delightful directions.
The film may not be similar in tone or content to Boyle's "Trainspotting", but the director uses the same energetic visual style, putting camera tricks and CGI to use to bring the imaginative fantasy elements (such as a house being built, rapid-fire) of "Millions" to rich life. The other element of "Millions" that I appreciated was the fact that the movie doesn't become sentimental and sappy, and the kids offer dry, subtle performances that are superb - the best, most complex and engaging performances I've seen from child actors in recent years.
"Millions" is one of those rare movies that both children and adults can appreciate. It's also one of those infrequent family movies that doesn't deliver heavy-handed messages and earns its emotional moments through excellent acting and writing. It's a sweet, beautiful little movie that will hopefully get a wider audience on DVD. It's certainly a gem, and one of the year's best.
VIDEO: "Millions" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen by Fox. The presentation is one of the finest recent efforts from the studio, as the image quality is absolutely wonderful. Sharpness and detail are exceptional, as the picture appeared consistently well-defined and razor sharp, with very nice fine details visible.
The only issue with the presentation was the presence of some very slight edge enhancement in a couple of scenes. Otherwise, the pictue appeared free of pixelation, print flaws and other issues. Colors were very well-saturated and bold, yet did not appear smeary or otherwise problematic. This is an excellent effort from Fox, as the film's sleek, striking visuals are presented exceptionally well here.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is excellent; although much of the movie's audio is from the front speakers, some of the sequences do provide some inspired instances of surround use for effects. The music throughout sounds dynamic and rich, while dialogue remained crisp and clear, with no distortion or other faults. The accents may be a bit of trouble for some, but I didn't have any problems at all.
EXTRAS: Director Danny Boyle and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce offer an audio commentary for the movie. The two provide a terrific amount of information about the making of the movie, including working with the child actors, production issues, score and other issues. The two provide a warm and funny discussion and chat throughout the film, with no real pauses of silence or moments that drag due to too much praise or narration of the movie.
There are also four "behind-the-scenes" featurettes, "Million Pounds", "Saints", "Spirit of the Film" and "Robbery"; a soundtrack spot, the theatrical trailer and deleted scenes.
Final Thoughts: "Millions" is a thoughtful, heartfelt family drama with the occasional laugh. The movie offers a great, lively visual style and two marvelous lead performances. It's certainly different from director Danny Boyle's other features, but he definitely shows that he can handle lighter material quite well. Fox's DVD edition provides stellar video quality, fine audio and nice supplements. Recommended.