Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Blu-ray Review
PictureConsidering it is such a recent movie, I was a little bit disappointed with the visual representation of this dud of a film, as there really was no excuse for it. Presented in 1080p High Definition in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 1.85:1, the Digital cinematography rarely comes to life and suffers from the filmmakers’ ill-advised choice to shoot the majority of scenes with almost no lighting (seriously, count the number of times during the movie you ask yourself the question: “Why don’t they just turn the lights on? Is this CSI?”). The detail is generally quite good, but the courtroom sequences are the only ones that really stand out as being worthy of the HD Blu-ray moniker. Many of the scenes suffer from noise (there’s no grain, per se, with this digital filmwork, but that does not mean the picture is crystal clear), but thankfully there are no overt signs of edge enhancement or distracting softness. The colour scheme is reasonably broad, with rich tones maintained throughout, and black levels are good, but also affected by the aforementioned lack of consistency during low-level lighting. I really have no idea why they shot so many of the indoor, daytime sequences in the dark (the early conference between CJ and his editor stands out), but this habit certainly does not help what is already a fairly disappointing recent rendition.
SoundMarking the only facet of the disc (including the movie!) which could really be regarded as decent enough to qualify for the format, it the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack which, whilst not excellent, certainly does fairly well with the limited material on offer. Sure, the courtroom sequences are fairly front-dominant, and that’s where we get almost all of the dialogue anyway, but the few action scenes there are (namely, the two car chase sequences) see crashes and bashes, screeching tyres, revving engines and so forth all kicking your surrounds into life. It may not be particularly nuanced, and the channel separation isn’t distinct or noteworthy, but there is some kind of atmosphere on offer, particularly during these more thrilling moments. The score is generally suitably tense – even if it is massively generic and totally forgettable – but the thing is that there are a couple of more humorous scenes in the movie where the score gets ‘silly’. This wouldn’t be a problem, but for the fact that the two of the most prominent of these such scenes are sandwiched around a fairly tense and important ‘race against time’ to get the crucial evidence from a safe vault. The bank clerk happens to be a ditzy old lady who doesn’t really know how to move at speed and, whilst the good guys are trying their best to get the evidence, the music in the background is playing to the clerk’s meandering ambivalence. It sounds like a piece of scoring that would be better suited to a Pink Panther remake movie, and totally does not work here. Still, you can’t say that the aural presentation of it, or anything else from this film, is bad in any way at all. It may not be in the least bit exceptional, but it is more than good enough, particularly for a movie like this.
ExtrasDespite the packaging boasting Extras in the name of: The Whole Truth – The Making of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt and Criminal Forensics – The Burden of Proof, the reality is that they are just two 3 minute Featurettes, complete with footage from the final film to pad them out! Seriously, a waste of time, and where exactly is the Commentary that the US counterpart boasts? Not that I need to have the Director try and justify his ‘masterpiece’ to me, but – for fans of the movie – this is pretty shocking treatment.
VerdictWell my verdict is guilty. This preposterous story, taken directly from a 50s film which was not particularly successful even back in the day when audiences were a little less demanding, has not been thought through well enough to make for a decent modern cinematic release, its ludicrous narrative peppered with some unforgivable inconsistencies. It really is a shock that none of the 19 producers involved noticed any of the massive plot-holes, and that nobody spoke up to try and get this reworked into a more acceptable story. Because there is a good idea in amidst this terrible mess, and it’s such a shame that nobody thought to properly capitalise on it, and do it justice. Instead, we have a fairly redundant cast who seldom drift out of their respective comas, with even a scene-stealing Michael Douglas phoning in his surprisingly underwhelming glorified cameo. I really would have liked this movie to work out, a decent old-school-styled Hitchcockian modern film noir – and a legal drama at that – is just up my alley. Unfortunately, this one is better left unwatched.
On Blu-ray the disappointment is further cemented by average audio and disappointing video, as well as a terrible selection of extras – not even holding on to the Audio Commentary from the US release! Honestly, if you liked this movie then you should consider splashing out on the superior US edition, and if you don’t know anything about it, then consider yourself lucky. Unless you’re a fan of seeing all that could possibly go wrong with a potentially enjoyable legal thriller, steer clear of this mess. Massively disappointing.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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