Although a dull and routine action movie, Charlie’s Angels is what this franchise needed to be from its outset. It only happens now thanks to decades of social progression.
The women still dress in showy clothes and activate their sexuality, either when they choose to or take out an easily duped male target. Charlie’s Angels doesn’t change those aspects, but involves the women to a different degree. Around them is a world demeaning to females – that’s the critical change.
At times, it’s subtle things. Elena (Naomi Scott) is continually shut down by her male superiors despite showing her greater intellect. Other times, there’s an awkward touch or dismissive look. Subtle, uncomfortable, and putting the Angels in “normal” danger rather than guns-out action scenes. Charlie’s Angels is more plausible than in previous iterations, at least until the fighting.
In greater shows of defying sexism, an early montage churns up girl power with images of kids at play. A villain forces a choke collar on one Angel, forcing her into submissiveness. That power stacks the story odds as much as turning the men arrogant, thinking they always have control. Also, there’s a greater angle against capitalism (the usual target, profits above safety), showing the corporate structure favors men, and those men refuse to relent their place.
All the above works well, spunky and spirited with its heart well meaning. The rest tanks, a relentlessly familiar and cliché action saga. Plot twists barely twist anything, with action scenes plummeting via routine chases. A rock quarry brawl brings a little enthusiasm, and a horse race stakeout tries, yet Charlie’s Angels lacks a standout quality. It’s doing what male-dominated genre films do for obvious reasons, then whiffs in hunting for an identity. A sequence in a wardrobe falls to outmoded Barbie-like tropes, and having an 80-year old man physically overpower (even momentarily) an Angel is too disastrous to comprehend.
Callbacks to the Charlie’s Angels TV series and Charlie’s Angels millennium movie suggest sequel aspirations. Think Marvel, but with Charlie’s Angels. It’s the right cast; Kristen Stewart provides the needed comedy, with Ella Balinska the hardened soldier. The mixture works, even Scott who plays the boiler plate newcomer, helping to guide the audience. However, there’s more bite to the end credits than the rest. There, real world successful women interact with the Angels in various ways, drawing a smile. That lasts a few minutes. Charlie’s Angels runs two hours. The ratio doesn’t work.
It’s not a good start for Charlie’s Angels. In the first act, garish smoothing robs the images of detail. Medium shots display ringing artifacts in excess. During an early meeting, noise invades, weirdly static until something moves. Then, noise follows the motion. Most establishing shots carry that look. It’s likely those came from stock footage and were hastily processed.
The 2K upscale, once past that ugly intro, cleans up well. Facial detail and texture begin to stand out naturally. Scenery displays excellent clarity. While slight ringing appears on occasion, such problems come to an almost total halt, noise too.
Generally bright, color excels. Stewart dons a bright pink jockey suit for an action scene, and the saturation glows. Inside a club during the finale, dresses break from the darkness, utilizing expanded color to make sure the darker hues remain visible in shadows.
No matter the issues, consistent performance from the HDR pass overcomes a lot. Lights push significant nits, giving everything a dynamic look. There’s little nuance so it tends to lean toward overwhelming, yet shows what the tech does. Black levels do their part too, going all out to push range.
Strange the DTS:X mix doesn’t offer range similar to the video. While video and audio (obviously) differ, offering similar aggressiveness would make this mix generally appealing. Bass happens. Explosions and car crashes deliver suitable thuds. Music throbs in the low-end, but when fighting picks up, things like gunfire lack power. A mini-gun is especially lacking.
Height channels factor in only sparingly, although Charlie’s Angels uses the other speakers well. Early on, a cafe brawl tracks debris when thrown, including sliding tables and shattering glass. That’s fun. Cars zip between speakers and gunshots ricochet off metal (the quarry making the overheads useful in this regard). It’s fine, but lacking in bombast.
Four stock EPK featurettes barley cross the seven minute mark (each). The short gag reel offers a few laughs, deleted scenes were cut for a reason, and a music video finishes things up. Note this all comes on the Blu-ray, not the UHD.
While its heart is in the right place, Charlie’s Angels lacks the needed action spark and falls to some dire cliches.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 42 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: