Michael Douglas stars in Peter Hyams' "BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT," a remake of the 1956 film from director Fritz Lang. Hyams' last effort with Douglas, the underrated "THE STAR CHAMBER" still holds up pretty well today, as a thriller, dealing with some really important issues. While "BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT" never even tries to be provocative, this shouldn't be held against it, as long as the film entertains. Unfortunately, it rarely entertains. Jesse Metcalfe plays CJ Nicholas, a young investigative journalist who has just moved to New Orleans from New York City, hoping to ride recent acclaim and move up the ladder. When he suspects the extremely successful District Attorney, Marc Hunter(Michael Douglas) owes his recent courtroom victory more to illegal planting of evidence than talent, he decides to set Hunter up for a fall, using himself as the bait, creating flags that will point himself out as the killer of a recently discovered body, thus hoping to document everything and prove Hunter will tamper with evidence, derailing the crooked guy's gubernatorial aspirations.
Ambitious idea? Well, it's hard to get past the threshold wherein everyone watching seems to get it's a stupid idea to point oneself as a killer, even to prove a point! It's just ludicrous and impossible for this reviewer to get past this premise. Furthermore, everything that transpires before and after CJ's plan is hatched, is telegraphed a mile away. Maybe 30 years ago, this could've possibly passed as mildly suspenseful, but there isn't anything presented here, that hasn't been done on the "LIFETIME" channel, and done better!
Even Hyams' imagery lacks the kind of energy it used to have. Hyams shot in 1.85:1 but his older films, also shot by him, often provided creative shots, complimenting, or exceeding the quality of the film, itself. Not the case here! Everything seems kind of dull and motionless, like the awful script and mediocre performances by Metcalfe and Amber Tamblyn. Douglas, as always, brings a sense of real craft to his role, but he's limited by the poor dialogue.
Some will certainly enjoy the film, as did several people watching alongside this reviewer. But, one probably should never take their recommendations on any other film!
ANCHOR BAY/STARZ has provided the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio for this VC-1 encoded 1080p blu-ray, and 16:9 enhanced dvd. Colors are often solid, however, the hues iand fleshtones tend to veer towards an unrealistic appearance in several scenes on the blu-ray, and it's not as noticeable on the dvd. Banding is also problematic in various spots on the blu-ray. Darker scenes lack the detail one hopes for in both formats. While the detail suffers notably more on dvd, it's still disappointing to find less than adequate black and gray discernment on blu-ray.
The overall image appears flat on both formats, while there are moments of fine detail on the blu-ray. Still, neither format is that impressive or stands out as better than average for this release.
A Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is offered on both dvd and blu-ray, however, the blu-ray also offers an additional PCM 5.1 mix. While the PCM mix is notably better than the standard Dolby on both formats, due to better dynamic range, neither mix is particularly impressive. Dolby and PCM lack the fine level of quality offered on superior ANCHOR BAY/STARZ releases, leaving the lossy mix with great dynamic range, but also leaving dialogue to compete with virtually every other music or sound effect for prominence. There is also some background distortion noticeable at times on both mixes, but more prominent on the lossy. Sure, the bass is often well utilized, but it doesn't make up for the other inconsistencies in these mixes. Disappointing!
Several extras are included. A commentary track with Hyams and Metcalfe is a basic paint-by-numbers discussion on the film, themes and design. Not awful, but not really offering anything to recommend the extra time for this one. Trailers in 1080p for two other ANCHOR BAY/STARZ releases, are included, as well as some short interviews and clips in 1080p of the feature film.