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Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/22/2012
All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/19/2012
Sometimes Hollywood can create trends. I don't mean trends that resonate only within the realms of filmmaking, but trends which permeate society, be they in fashion, activities, or vernacular. But, movie can also often reflect the public's interest. In the 1970s, there was a big push in the public's interest in the paranormal, and movies and television shows (such as the great In Search of...) reflected this by featuring psychics and ghosts. In recent years, we've seen a resurgence in this, with an emphasis on psychic investigation, most notably in the TV shows Medium and Ghost Whisperer. I can't readily think of a big-budget movie which has tackled this topic, but that doesn't mean that filmmakers are ignoring it, as evidence by Beyond.
Beyond opens by introducing by two seemingly different groups of people who live in Alaska. Jon Koski (John Voight) is an aging police detective who specializes in finding kidnapped children. After he shoots a suspect, Chief Jack Musker (Dermot Mulroney) approaches Jon about retiring, and Jon isn't sure what to do with this situation. Meanwhile, Sarah (Teri Polo) and Jim Noble (Ben Crowley) discover that their daughter, Amy (Chloe Lesslie) is missing. As Sarah is Jack's sister, he immediately contacts Jon to help with the case. Jon begins his investigation and we learn that Amy had an imaginary friend with whom she liked to talk. Amy's babysitter, Megan (Skyler Shaye) suggests that her friend, Farley Connors (Julian Morris), get involved. Farley is a psychic who hosts a radio show (which is also simulcast on TV so that we know what he looks like). Jon is very skeptical about Farley and feels that Megan may be involved in the kidnapping in some way. As Jon continues to interviews the suspects, he has frequently occurring flashbacks to an early case. Is this tied to Amy and will Jon be able to find the girl in time?
Beyond is a movie which attempts to mix genres. But, instead, it becomes one of those movies which plays as if it can't decide what it wants to be. Typically, when I watch a film like this, I can tell which part of the story was meant to be dominant, but I couldn't here. At the outset, this looks like a standard kidnapping thriller. We meet Jon, who is the decidedly stereotypical police officer who is nearing retirement age, and the idea of the expert in kidnappings is introduced. At this point, the film appears to be a standard police procedural, maybe along the lines of Ransom. The supernatural elements are slowly introduced into the story, and for a moment, the movie feels like it could become a horror-thriller. But, then it goes back to focusing on the kidnapping.
The bottom-line is that this movie is wildly uneven and it suffers for this, as it doesn't succeed in either facet. The kidnapping part is very stereotypical and could have come from any movie. The movie is a mystery surrounding the identify of the kidnappers, but it doesn't tell us that at first. Sarah and Jim discover that Amy is missing and the investigation begins and the implication is that the goal is to find the girl. But, suddenly, there's a ransom phone call and we realize that this is a kidnapping movie. In the scene where we first meet the Noble's, Farley's TV show is on in the background and it looks like Amy is the only one watching it. Amy's imaginary friend is mentioned multiple times and the viewer thinks, "OK, we get it, there's something more to this.", and for a short time, this element and Farley's visions are the highlight of the film. Then, the movie goes back to being a police thriller. Both of these elements feel very hackneyed and offer no suspense or drama. As with all of these films, someone spouts statistics about children not being found alive after a certain amount of time, but the movie never does anything to make us truly feel that Amy is in danger. Beyond then tries to wrap everything up nicely with a twist ending which was telegraphed midway through the film.
I realize that people shouldn't always be judged on past performance and that they can redeem themselves, but what should I have expected from the director ofIt's Alive (who loves helicopter shots) and the writer of Centipede!? Despite having some familiar faces, Beyond doesn't offer much to entice viewers. The movie has some good ideas, but it doesn't do enough to exploit them. A gritty Seven-esque movie which combined a kidnapping with a psychic could have been interesting, but Beyond decides to play things safe, and isn't worth the ransom.
Beyond offers the best cameo by a Lite-Brite which I've seen in a while on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing on overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The opening scenes take place in a snowy forest and this gives us an immediate indication of how clear the image is. However, some of the nighttime scenes are a bit too dark. The colors look good and realistic. The level of detail is good and the exterior scenes show a nice amount of depth. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track offers some nice surround effects during the action scenes, most notably when a gunshot comes from the rear speakers. We also get some interesting audio effects during Jon's flashbacks. The stereo effects are nicely detailed and display sounds coming from the left or right of the screen. The subwoofer effects aren't dominant, but they do add to some scenes.
The Beyond Blu-ray Disc contains no extra features.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long