Director Spike Lee was at the height of his powers when he finally got to make Malcolm X
, a massively ambitious biopic of the American black civil rights crusader of the film's title. And it's a fascinating movie, one driven through its numerous slower moments by a stunning central performance from Denzel Washington. Magnetic barely covers it.
Rightly Oscar-nominated for his work, Washington here is as good as he ever has been, dominating the screen. Particularly when delivering Malcolm X's speeches, he's quite, quite brilliant, able to shift his performance with consummate skill, and give us a rounded portrayal of a hugely important figure in recent American history.
The film isn't quite as good as Washington, although it frequently touches greatness. It's also not afraid to dig into controversies surrounding Malcolm X himself, and there's little sign of the story being diluted in any way. If anything, there's a desire to squeeze in perhaps a little too much.
Across three hours, it tells the story of Malcolm X, from his formative years through to his death, and it does it with a real sense of period attention, and occasionally an epic feel. That's where the Blu-ray upgrade really helps. The terrific photography is showcased wonderfully in 1080p. Furthermore, the disc has space for an interesting commentary track, featuring Lee himself, as well as deleted scenes, and a look into the making of the film. It's a terrific package, and Malcolm X remains both an important figure, and an important film. The Blu-ray only enhances that. --Jon Foster
Washington/Hall/Bassett/Lindo ~ Malcolm X