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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Beyond a Reasonable Doubt [Blu-ray]


(Peter Hyams, 2009)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: RKO Pictures

Video: Starz / Anchor Bay



Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:45:33.744

Disc Size: 22,386,147,492 bytes

Feature Size: 19,917,680,640 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.27 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 22nd, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video



LPCM Audio English 4608 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4608 kbps / 16-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English (SDH), Spanish, none



• Commentary track with director Peter Hyams and actor Jesse Metcalfe

The Whole Truth -- The Making of 'Beyond a Reasonable Doubt' (3:12 in HD!)
Criminal Forensics -- The Burden of Proof (3:40 in HD!)

• Trailer and Previews





Description: High profile District Attorney Mark Hunter (Michael Douglas) has an impeccable record putting criminals behind bars and is a shoo-in for governor in the upcoming election. But when ambitious rookie journalist, C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) begins investigating Hunter for tampering with evidence to secure his convictions, the district attorney’s perfect record is up for scrutiny. Commencing a risky game of cat and mouse with Hunter, C.J. frames himself as a murder suspect to catch the corrupt D.A. in the act. Romantically involved with C.J. but unaware of his assignment, Assistant D.A. Ella Crystal (Amber Tamblyn) becomes caught between her boss’s political ambitions and C.J.’s dangerous exposť. As mounting evidence stacks up against both men, Ella’s own life becomes threatened when she discovers incriminating proof that puts the fate of both Nicholas’s innocence and Hunter’s reputation in her hands.



The Film:

For his remake of Fritz Lang's last American film, 1956's Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Peter Hyams retains the German Expressionist's narrative conceit but otherwise ratchets up the sleek car-commercial flashiness. Whereas Lang's original was a condemnation of U.S. capital punishment, Hyams's do-over has no such weighty issues on its mind. Instead, it's merely content to spin a tale of murder and intrigue about the efforts of transplanted TV news reporter C.J. Nicholas (a false Jesse Metcalfe) to frame himself for the murder of a prostitute in order to expose the evidence-planting tactics of star district attorney Mark Hunter (Michael Douglas).

Set in Shreveport, Louisiana, the story has about as much local flavor as it does logic, though the director nonetheless initially keeps the proceedings mildly engaging by simply adhering to his source material, detailing C.J. and his goofy sidekick Corey's (Joel Moore) careful execution and recording of their ruse. Despite a focus on glossy suspense, however, there's little outright tension, as Hyams, aside from a vigorous car chase sequence, mistakenly attempts to generate excitement not via his story's underlying legal system conflicts (image vs. reality, justice vs. self-interest) but through hokey twists and turns that render the action facile.

Excerpt from Nick Schager's review at Slant Magazine located HERE



Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

This single-layered VC-1 1080P transfer never really takes off. The film was shot on HDCAM and can look soft at times on Blu-ray without any real depth. Nothing stands out as exceptional although it does seem to reproduce image quality superior to that of SD-DVD with richer contrast. The overall look has a plastic appearance that is more reminiscent of a videoy look. This is more true in motion that in a static camera. By modern standards this is fairly tame visually but probably a decent representation of the production shoot. This Blu-ray never seems to advance to the higher echelon of the format. I may be too picky as it will do an adequate job for most individual's viewing - just don't expect any more.















Subtitling spelling error



Audio :

The LPCM 5.1 track at 4608 kbps also has some weaknesses with effect noises drowning out dialogue as the mix seemed too focused on the bassy dynamic tendencies of the separations. It was because of this that I watched with the optional English subtitles and noted the above spelling error. For straight action sequences - and there are only 2 - the track handles the explosions and gunplay with zeal to spare. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

The optional commentary with director Peter Hyams and actor Jesse Metcalfe is standard fare with some minor discussion of the noir themes of the film and the production details in general. Unfortunately, it is not a film worthy of lengthy discussion and the track is left 'holding the bag' to some extent. After that we get two very short featurettes both in HD - The Whole Truth -- The Making of 'Beyond a Reasonable Doubt' with cast soundbyte input and a slightly more interesting Criminal Forensics -- The Burden of Proof although like the film - neither really get a chance to expand to full potential. There is also a trailer and some previews.



I shouldn't be too critical of the film - I was in the mood to watch this 'courtroom drama' - not expecting too much - and I was left moderately satisfied. Comparing it to the Fritz Lang's original (on DVD now - out of Spain - reviewed HERE) doesn't seem to make much sense. The actual in court sequences are too short and Michael Douglas has minimal screen time. The pace seemed a bit rushed. This is pretty hollow with some untied loose ends but if you are willing to suspend your belief to a deep enough level - you will find the tension and suspense levels entertaining. The Blu-ray seems overpriced in my opinion. It doesn't hold its one in any area displaying weaknesses at every turn. I think we'd have to recommend passing on this one. 

Gary Tooze

December 10th, 2009



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze








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