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Miracle Beach (1992)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/19/2016
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/8/2016
With all of the advances in HD video technology, it has become easier and easier for would-be filmmakers to pick up a camera and try their hands at making a movie. While the new inventions have opened up the field to the masses (in a way), the notion of people "just up and making movies" isn't a new thing. Independent filmmaking has a long history in the United States and many have answered the call to give it a shot. The problem is that wanting to make a movie and having the talent to make a good movie are two different things, as evidenced by Miracle Beach.
Scotty (Dean Cameron) is down on his luck. Finding his girlfriend cheating on him with his boss, his quickly loses both her and his job, which leads to him getting evicted from his apartment. He awakens on a park bench to find that he's clutching a strange bottle. He makes some off-hand comments about wishing that his life was better, and a genie, conveniently named Jeannie (Ami Dolenz), appears and grants his wishes. Scotty quickly realizes that Jeannie can change his life. Not only does she supply Scotty and his two best friends -- Soup (Brian Perry) and Lars (Alexis Arquette) -- with a great place to live, Scotty sees this as his opportunity to impress Dana (Felicity Waterman). But, what Scotty can't see is that while Jeannie is arranging elaborate parties, Jeannie is falling for him.
"Beach Movies", if you will, became popular in the 1960s with movies like Beach Blanket Bingo, Beach Party, and Muscle Beach Party, which portrayed teenagers singing and frolicking on the sand. Part of the appeal of these films was seeing the females in bikinis, something which fairly new and still considered as risque at the time. "Beach Movies" made a comeback in the 1980s with Spring Break, Fraternity Vacation, and Hardbodies. What had once been titillation took a giant leap in these sex “comedies”, as ample flesh was on display. Released in 1992, Miracle Beach arrived after this beach renaissance and, in this R-rated cut at least, the movie has no idea what it wants to be.
On the one hand, the movie plays like a sweet fable, which is so naive and saccharine that it almost borders on satire. Scotty is a good guy who just wants to be with his dream woman. Jeannie is on-assignment on Earth and it’s her last chance to do well and satisfy their superiors. At first, their relationship is more like a business arrangement, with Scotty making wishes and Jeannie eager to please. But, Jeannie discovers that she doesn’t just want to make Scotty happy by granting his wishes, she wants to love him as well. On the other hand, this cut of the film also wants to be a holdover from those 80s “Beach Movies”, as topless women show up from time-to-time seemingly to do nothing more than justify the R-rating, as, outside of this, the movie doesn’t have any extreme profanity or graphic situations, and these women do nothing to advance the plot. I keep saying “this cut” because apparently a milder version of the film has played on cable before.
So, we have a film which can’t make up its mind what it wants to be and so it fails at everything. Director Skott Snider’s previous experience was shooting videos for Playboy (which would explain the presence of the naked ladies) and it shows here, as he clearly has little idea how to handle anything with a story. Despite the fact that Miracle Beach is 88-minutes long, there’s only about 15 minutes of story here, so we get a lot of useless scenes which are padding. The editing style is very jerky and some scenes feel as if they are moving in slow-motion. The story (what there is of it) is incredibly hackneyed and cliched. Only the most novice of viewers won’t grasp that Scotty and Jeannie will eventually fall for one another. Soup and Lars are annoying and the background characters don’t do much to help.
While Miracle Beach has all of the earmarks of a low-budget movie, somehow the producers were able to assemble an impressive cast. Dean Cameron was the standout from the underrated Summer School, but his career never really took off. I always thought that Ami Dolenz (daughter of The Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz) was a cutie, but it always appeared that acting may have been more of a hobby for her. Pat Morita and Vincent Schiavelli were still coasting offer of their appearances in 80s classics, and Martin Mull appears to show up everywhere. These familiar faces can’t do anything to elevate the inept direction and the threadbare storyline. The only reason to watch Miracle Beach is to see Alexis Arquette acting like a horny guy. Now that’s Oscar-worthy!
Miracle Beach does not yield a fortune in lost coins on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Kino. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no defects from the source materials, but there is some mild grain here. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is decent, but the image suffers from the flat look which some older films have when brought to HD. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant 1.6 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The fact that this a stereo track is apparent when the music is playing, as we can hear the separation in the front channels. Otherwise, the track has a mono sound to it and the mix displays inconsistencies, as the background noises change from shot-to-shot within a scene.
The lone extra on the Miracle Beach Blu-ray Disc is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long