Shiny Shelf

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle

By Mark Clapham on 25 November 2003

From the Shiny Shelf review of ‘Full Throttle’ after its cinematic release, you’d think the movie was eight hours long. In fact, the running time is one hour and forty one minutes. Just over 100 minutes! That’s longer than the first ‘Angels’ movie, but it ain’t particularly long these days, when space operas and superheroes seem to get over two hours of running time as a matter of course.

On DVD, restrained in the box in the corner of the living room, ‘Full Throttle’ actually feels like a fairly succinct movie, rather than the last word in excess. What seemed oh-too-much on a big screen, backed up with ear-tearing surround-sound, seems nicely paced and entertaining on the small screen. Oddly for a blockbuster, ‘Full Throttle’ works slightly better as a not-particularly-quiet night in. The Angels themselves have always been endearing characters and their perky enthusiasm is welcome in your home.

When it comes to big, recent movies, quality of transfer is pretty much a given, and ‘Full Throttle’ looks and sounds brilliant. (That sound balance is particularly important, of course, as McG’s films are as much overlong pop videos as they are anything else.)

The special features on the disc follow the pattern of the film, being glossy, bitty and highly entertaining. The ‘Jukebox’ and ‘Cameography’ features are glorified branching options, both throwing out extra information before dipping into clips from the film. ‘Jukebox’ has McG explaining his musical choices before showing the relevant sequence, while ‘Cameography’ gives basic biographical info on the numerous cameo players in the movie before cutting to their scenes.

There’s a good handful of featurettes on here, appropriately themed around set-pieces and spectacle. There’s one relating to the production of the dam sequence at the start of the film, and others on the costumes, stunts and such. A particularly revealing short focusses on the producer’s job in terms of managing the chaotic schedule of a film like this. The featurettes are pretty candid about the compromises and complications of such an excessive production, and this tone seems to spread through the other features. This is presumably the influence of McG’s informal, direct working culture – he’s a straight talking, enthusiastic man, and his colleagues seem to take that lead. After seeing a lot of dry DVD extras lately, it’s refreshing to have a peppy view of what seemed like a fun, albeit intensive, production schedule.

While McG himself provides one commentary (with telecaster!), the commentary that raised my interest was the one by the film’s three credited writers, John August and the (presumably husband and wife) writing team of Cormac and Marianne Wibberley. As one of the writers says as the track begins, the commentary seems to be there to prove that writers actually worked on the film, as there’s precious little coherent evidence on screen. August and the Wibberleys worked on the movie at different drafting stages of the script, and this is a fascinating insight into the chaotic, multi-layered approach taken to the writing of big studio films these days.

All three writers talk with complete candour about the process of delivering draft after draft, with other writers coming and going, and the plotholes and contradictions this creates. Not only do the writers not disguise the flaws of the finished screenplay, they gleefully point out some of the more absurd aspects of the script, and throw in some fascinating glimpses of other versions of the script, with scenes that were discarded or rewritten due to lack of money. Yes, unbelievably there were more expensive, more excessive versions of this screenplay. Be afraid.

All concerned, including writers, production team and cast, seemed to have a lot of fun on this movie and for once that sense of fun actually comes out on screen to infect the audience. No-one is under any delusions that ‘Full Throttle’ is a work of art or genius, but they’re proud of it as a fun trip. The DVD is an equally fun complement, and adds to the whole ‘Charlie’s Angels’ experience.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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