Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 7/18/00
2000 (2000) - 20th Century
review by Brad Pilcher of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B/A-
Specs and Features
119 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:12:39, in chapter
18), Amaray keep case packaging, commentary with director Danny
Boyle, theatrical trailers and TV spots, 9 deleted scenes,
storyboards, promo spot, "making of" featurette, All
Saints music video for Pure Shores,
cast and crew bios, animated film-themed menu screens with music,
scene access (30 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0),
French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Spanish, Closed Captioned
"I just feel like
everybody always tries to do something different, but they always
end up doing the same damned thing."
I scratch my forehead as I think back on the two hours I just spent
watching The Beach. I'm not
entirely sure what happened. I do know what could have happened, but
I also know that none of those things happened. The sad thing is...
THAT is probably the best thing I can say about this movie.
Before I break down the plot, let me just say that the trailers for
this movie are, by far, the most misleading previews I've ever seen.
Almost every line in the trailers is taken out of context to give
the idea of a completely more exhilarating (not to mention entirely
different) storyline. I suppose if you'd read the book beforehand,
you'd know better. I didn't... so I didn't.
The story opens as Richard (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) arrives in
Bangkok, Thailand. We're flushed with a gritty, sweaty look that
makes you decidedly uneasy. Richard's character, on the other hand,
seems to be looking for that kind of unknown. It's an intriguing
beginning, without having to present you with much in the way of
dialogue or setup. There is one disconcerting element to this,
however. The first line of the film has Richard telling you his
name, and then telling you that you don't need to know anymore about
him. Ummm, hello? Character development? But from the beginning and
through most of the film, you get none... so you don't really care
much for most of the characters.
In any event, the story then introduces the categorically loony "Daffy"
who spouts off about a paradise island that is nearly impossible to
find, but worth trying. Before he offs himself though, he politely
leaves a map for Richard (thus making it much less impossible).
Richard proceeds to recruit the French couple next door (mostly
because he wants to - uhm, how do I say this politely? - bang the
girl), and a few days later they've arrived. Here is where the
trailers would have you believe that some sort of drug-pushing thugs
overrun their paradise, but this isn't the case. In fact, that never
happens. The drug-pushing thugs aren't even thugs, and they allow
the paradise to exist in peace, as long as it is kept a secret. Huh?
So where's the drama you ask? Well, I couldn't really tell you.
There was the potential for a love triangle, but that got deflated
almost immediately. You see, the French guy only wants his
girlfriend to be happy, so he grudgingly agrees to his lover
switching into Richard's bed. Gotta love the French! Some drama
could have come from a scene where one of the paradise society
members is attacked by a shark. He just won't die, and soon his
screams are upsetting the others. That horrible little sub-plot goes
nowhere. I feel wrong even calling it a sub-plot. It's more like a
barely consequential plot point.
All of this anti-drama leads to a very weighed down middle. The
impossibility of their reaching paradise is taken away because the
map spells it out for them. Once they get there, the drug-pushers
say, "Sure! Live in peace with us." Any little stories
that could have gone somewhere are purposely collapsed. Just about
everything else feels like filler leading up to a climax that is as
poorly executed as anything I've seen on film. I won't give it away
because... well, I suppose some of you are going to watch this film.
The sum of this little story is that it could have been very good
in a number of ways. The Beach
just chose not to be any of those things, and instead went for
trying to be a moving postcard kind of thing. The fact that
DiCaprio, who is a good actor, will forever be held back by his
legions of preteen fans didn't help. And if you followed this
production at all, you may have heard that the cast & crew
absolutely ruined the beach they were shooting on. There's no point
to mentioning that, except that it makes this film all the more
The flip side, is that the audio and video on this DVD are quite
good. This film may stall because of its story, but the
cinematography and scenery is splendid. This anamorphic disc helps
bring that beauty into the home in a very good way. The colors are
all appropriately vibrant without bleeding. The darks are just dark
enough and the grain is a non-issue. Artifacting doesn't pose a
problem, so what we have is a solid piece of video. The audio, while
never really requiring much in the way of big booms and bangs, is
sufficiently spatial. You'll hear the surf around you, but that's
Where this disc makes its best effort at salvaging the film's
worthiness is in the extras department. Director Danny Boyle chimes
in on a commentary that is pretty informative, if a bit uninspired.
If anything, he just shows how much he missed the boat on developing
the plot. An equally uninspired and forgettable music video from the
soundtrack is included. The song is Pure
Shores by All Saints (a sort of Spice Girls-esque group
with more musical talent). There's a storyboard gallery, which is
good. The deleted scenes (with commentary) are also good, but they
do one thing: show you just how much character development was
needed. If they'd left some of these scenes in and cut some of the
filler from the middle, they would have had an infinitely better
film. Rounding out the bunch is a mixture of trailers (two versions,
one teaser trailer and an international trailer) with a whole bunch
of TV spots. This is cool, but how many TV spots can you watch? And
even after all the solid content on this disc, it's still really
hard to appreciate this movie.
I have to let out a deep, hollow sigh about The
Beach, if only because this film is so beautiful from a
visual standpoint, and it had lots of potential. But in the end,
even the sex scenes suck. You should probably rent this film if
you're at all interested, but I'd be remiss if I even marginally
recommended a buy.