Plot: What’s it about?
Richard (Leonardo DeCaprio) has had enough of his life. He has grown weary of the dull and repetitious patterns of everyday life and longs for some adventure, action, and perhaps even some romance. In order to escape his personal boredom with life, Richard ventures off to exotic Thailand in search of all the elements his life at home lacks. But once he arrives he discovers thousands of tourists there for the exact same reason as him, which means the adventure and danger he seeks are nowhere to be found. But when he meets Daffy (Robert Carlyle) that all changes and Richard learns of an untouched island where he can find all the things he is looking for. Richard agrees to visit the island and gets a map from Daffy, when he decides to invite the young French couple next door. This has more to do with his desires toward the female in that couple than friendship, but nonetheless the three trek off to the island together. While the trio expect a natural paradise on the island, they discover more of a nightmare as the island is run by savages and drug dealers, each on their own areas on the island. It was danger and adventure these three wanted and now they have more than they could ever imagine…
This film seemed to be the chance for Leo to prove he wasn’t a fluke after Titanic…and if you judge by the box office, the results weren’t kind. I did manage to see this movie during the one week stay at my local theater and I have to say I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. As such, I was looking forward to revisiting on this beloved format and Fox has outdone themselves with this terrific release. While I did like the movie and I liked even more after a repeat viewing on my home theater, the film is far from perfect, or even great for that matter. The main flaw I find in the writing is that it tends to be a little predictable at times, but this doesn’t hamper the entertainment value which is what counts. The writing is solid, the acting is solid, this is a solid movie overall. The real reason I like this film so much is the incredible visual impact, this is one of the most beautiful looking films I’ve ever seen. Of course the lush tropical scenes are candy for the eyes, but even the city sequences look amazing and dazzling. I recommend this movie as a rental for those who haven’t seen it as of yet, as it is solid and but a lock by any means. If you do like the film, race to the store to pick up this excellent disc, you won’t be sorry.
This film was directed by Danny Boyle, who has a short but impressive directing resume. This film seems to be quite a different venture for Boyle, but he manages to create a fantastic and visually powerful movie nonetheless. While I am sure Boyle was only one cog in the gears that made this film so gorgeous, I feel he has done a terrific job of getting the correct performances from his actors and giving this film a unique visual style. Other films directed by Boyle include Trainspotting, Shallow Grave, A Life Less Ordinary, and Alien Love Triangle. John Hodge penned the screenplay for this movie, using the novel by Alex Garland as a basis. While the dialogue slips here and there and some issues arise, for the most part I enjoyed the writing a great deal. But with visuals like this…it’s sometimes hard to listen. The lead in this film is none other than Leonardo DeCaprio, who after Titanic was expected to the next big screen idol but seems to fallen from that pedestal. DeCaprio (The Basketball Diaries) is solid in this movie, giving a better performance than I expected. The supporting cast also includes Virginie Ledoyen (A Single Girl), Tilda Swinton (The Deep End), Daniel York (Rogue Trader), and Robert Carlyle (Ravenous, The World Is Not Enough).
Video: How does it look?
The Beach is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and stands as one of the finest visual presentations to date. This film has breathtaking cinematography so I was pleased with how well this transfer replicated it all on this disc. The colors are beautiful and vibrant at all times with no signs of errors, and flesh tones always appear normal and without flaw. I also found no problems with the contrast, which features complex shadow structure and very high visible detail levels, even in the darkest of areas. This one made the movie to our beloved format quickly so the print looks pristine and the compression seems totally flawless, I found no artifacts at all.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release included a Dolby Digital 5.1 track which perfectly handles all the audio, from the subtle atmospheric effects to the powerful and speaker shaking ones. This movie isn’t always audio driven and during those times the surrounds are content to play second fiddle as dialogue dominates, with crisp and clear vocals and no volume issues. The score is also not always overpowering and usually has a deep and enrapturing soundscape, very effective. When the audio does kick into high gear though you’ll know it as all the speakers come to life to provide an excellent experience. I could find no problems with this mix and was amazed at times with how well it handled the transitions. This release includes optional English and Spanish subtitles, as well as Dolby 2.0 tracks in English and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release not only looks and sounds excellent, but it is also loaded down with goodies of all kinds. You’ll find a gallery one nine deleted scenes on this disc, including an alternate opening and ending which is cool. While you view these cut scenes you can enable commentary by director Danny Boyle or just watch them sans his ideas. Speaking of Boyle, he also provides a running audio commentary on the film which makes for an interesting listen. Boyle speaks about many behind the scenes aspects of this film and is warm and charismatic talker. I was pleased to find a nice selection of storyboards for the film as well, which give you a chance to compare them to the finished product. I would have liked a full length documentary, but the included five minute featurette is little more than promotional fluff. This disc also includes five trailer and ten television spots, which stand among my favorite supplements as they let us see how the film was marketed. An All Saints music video, soundtrack promo, and terrific talent files are the rest of the bonus materials.