BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT (Blu-ray; Anchor Bay) - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

Thread Tools
post #1 of 1 Old 06-24-10, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,264

Studio Name: Anchor Bay (Autonomous Films/Foresight Unlimited/RKO Pictures)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Disc/Transfer Information: Widescreen 1.85:1
Tested Audio Track: English Uncompressed PCM 5.1
Director: Peter Hyams
Starring Cast: Jesse Metcalfe, Amber Tamblyn, Michael Douglas



I recall an advertising campaign which suggested Beyond a Reasonable Doubt was actually something much more than the final product actually exhibited; the marketing tactics had this being touted as a release from a major studio starring none other than the genre-driven Michael Douglas. What I was witness to after viewing this Blu-ray Disc release from Anchor Bay Entertainment and RKO Pictures came off more like a made-for-cable who-dun-it with amateurish camera shots and fade-outs than anything the teasers made it out to be. My wife loved it; I was not entertained in the least, save for gawking at Tamblyn’s tight behind and mile-high toned legs. I will agree with one thing in terms of the wife’s viewpoint: You won’t see the twist of an ending coming at all.

The premise of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is far-fetched and ridiculously boring as I see it; the rather annoying, nearly monotone Jesse Metcalfe plays a television reporter covering local Louisiana stories such as blindfolded coffee taste tests (I’m not kidding about this – remember when I said this played like a made-for-Lifetime picture?) and when he stumbles into a courtroom in which hotshot DA Mark Hunter (Michael Douglas) is prosecuting an African-American man for murdering an African-American young woman, he begins hatching a plot to get ahead in his job. He comes up with the theory, after listening to Hunter (Douglas) introduce evidence of a smoked cigarette at the crime scene and how it connects the accused, that Hunter and his office has been planting evidence on victims and suspects just to win the cases. Now envisioning a career leap based on this story that can crack the whole DA office to pieces, Metcalfe’s character confronts the lovely and delicious Assistant DA (Tamblyn) so she could share some files with him.

Here’s stupid plot setup number two: Initially, Tamblyn wants nothing to do with Metcalfe’s sexual advances as he asks her for the files – within less than 10 minutes, she agrees to a Chinese dinner date and before you know it, she’s over his apartment bouncing up and down on his hips in bed, moaning and groaning in ecstasy. While it was downright delightful to watch the naughty Tamblyn reach mooic pleasures – albeit covered by sheets in Metcalfe’s bed – the notion is ridiculous and pathetic. This rather prudish tart goes from cold clam to sweltering slut in the blink of an eye. Meanwhile, Metcalfe hatches his plan with his friend at the TV station, some goofy nitwit that goes along with the scheme of cooking up evidence in order to “frame” DA Hunter and prove they’re planting evidence during cases. Together, Metcalfe and his co worker pitch the story to their boss – which is more like a near-demand for him to accept this pitch – but when he refuses and puts them on downgraded assignments, the two of them decide to do it on their own.

How do they do this? Well, first they examine a new crime scene that recently popped up in their Louisiana district – Orlando Jones (who actually steals the show in this film beyond any other performance here, including Douglas’) plays the witty, sarcastic detective assigned to the murder of a freshly-carved hooker found dead, and he’s approached by Metcalfe and his idiotic buddy who asks all sorts of questions about the dead body. Getting details from Jones, the two of them begin to acquire the necessary things to reenact this crime scene, including the supposed sweat pants the murderer wore, a ski mask, pepper spray and a unique pair of Italian tennis shoes that they order over the internet via eBay as they’re so rare. Supposedly, these were the shoes worn by the suspect. Then, they visit a weapons depot where they are helped by a rather creepy and large neo Nazi-type behind the counter as they shop for the right kind of knife that may have been used in this crime. All the while, Metcalfe’s imbecile friend is capturing the purchases on camera so there’s proof all this was bought after the actual murder to set this all up – thus, letting Metcalfe off the hook for what he’s about to do.

Metcalfe then begins the “setting up” process, in which he pretends to be !!!-faced drunk when speeding so he’s arrested. Once released from his holding cell when the friend bails him out, Orlando notices the rare Italian-made sneakers on Metcalfe’s feet…and remembers the M.O. from the murdered hooker crime scene. Eventually, “planted” evidence leads to Metcalfe’s apartment, where Orlando arrests him for the murder of the dead hooker, but as he’s having his rights read, a strange entity shows up from supposedly the DA’s office to finish the booking process. Suddenly, Metcalfe is put on trial for the murder of the prostitute, but, again, this is all to somehow prove that Hunter’s office is dirty and is planting evidence.

From prison, Metcalfe begs Tamblyn to believe his story, that he didn’t kill the girl, and that her boss is corrupt. Tamblyn struggles with this, but eventually does some digging of her own and comes across some incriminating information. Michael Douglas’ Hunter character realizes she’s getting too close to all of this and puts his watchdog on her – the same guy that came to finish Metcalfe’s arrest. He follows her every move until she gets way too in over her head and he attempts to kill her by running her down with his car in an empty parking garage. Jones comes to her rescue and shoots the guy dead from outside the windshield, and now the pressure is on Metcalfe to prove that Hunter’s office planted the evidence which landed him as a suspect…

Or something like that.

To be honest, at this point, I didn’t really care. I thought Michael Douglas would be the saving grace here, but alas, it turned out to be the wiseass cop character Orlando Jones plays. As I said earlier, there is a wild twist at the very end that you most likely won’t see coming, but it’s connected to a videotape made by Metcalfe’s character years earlier in which he was a reporter in Buffalo, New York, and in which he interviewed a black woman regarding her homelessness and child. Could it be Metcalfe has something to do with this more than Douglas’ DA character does? Is it possible there’s a striking resemblance between the dead hooker he’s on trial for killing and the homeless woman he interviewed years ago in Buffalo?

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is filmed in such a way – and you’ll sense it the moment you begin getting into it, if you’re a seasoned film enthusiast – that smacks of beginner director work, and the cheap fade in/fade outs between sequences reeks of broadcast-ready material, not of a serious theatrical film. Surprisingly enough, Anchor Bay was in conjunction with RKO Pictures on this one, but the final product was seriously disappointing, lacking charisma, soul or polish. This felt like I was watching an hour and forty minutes of As the World Turns; Metcalfe’s acting was horrendous and very soap opera-like, while Tamblyn, while tantalizingly cute to look at, needs to really stick with daytime work. Douglas playing the cocky DA Hunter does reasonably well here, but this clearly isn’t Falling Down, Fatal Attraction, War of the Roses, The American President, et al; it almost seemed as though Douglas needed a paycheck – and that’s how his performance comes across in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.


Anchor Bay presents Beyond a Reasonable Doubt in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer which filled my display with no letterboxing. The image quality itself was decent; nothing too spectacular in comparison to “better-made” titles, but some high definition qualities were on display including clean outdoor sequences exhibiting nice detail and good facial close-ups. Shadow detail appeared strong, and contrast was efficiently regulated. Befitting a rather “budget” studio and production style, the transfer didn’t really stand out in any particular way, however; some sequences appeared DVD-like in quality with noisy twitching in the backgrounds and such, along with some detail softening.

Don’t expect much going into this, and you won’t be disappointed.


After a handful of un-entertaining trailers, the disc defaults to the main menu, where a choice of Dolby Digital or Uncompressed PCM 5.1 was available. I chose the Uncompressed track, and was immediately struck with a sense of feeling as though the audio was being played within a closed cardboard box. Dialogue delivery was chesty with nasal-like qualities and the action remained in the two main front channels – precisely the type of soundscape that would indicate, immediately, cheap production techniques and massive budgetary constraints. However, aside from the lack of surround activity – of which I experienced none outside of some environmental fill including birds and subtle wind – this PCM track opened up during some later action scenes to the point that rattling, jarring LFE came crashing out of my Polk RTi12 mains as well as the sub. Cranked up, this track exhibited heavy wallops of bass that were satisfying to the point that I began enjoying the audio experience in order to block out the nonsense that was transpiring onscreen.

Alas, the entire audio mix here does reveal the project’s somewhat limited origins and resources --- there’s no surround ambience to pull you in during the most involving action sequences and the audio quality just seemed metallic and chesty in overall characteristic, with the aforementioned action setpieces bellowing simply through the front three channels.


A “making of” featurette was nothing of the sort, as it was simply a marketing piece by Anchor Bay to explain what the film was about, using some clips from the actors and filmmakers.


There’s a rather nifty, surprising twist at the very end – but other than that, skip this one unless there’s nothing available to download or rent. During one of the “marketing gimmicks” I mentioned in the extras package, the director speaks of tweaking this story – based on a classic version of RKO Films’ title of the same name – to relate more to young people and a young generation. Unfortunately, this is the direction all of cinema seems to be taking for the worse, but there’s simply nothing exciting or groundbreaking here to speak of; my wife bragged about the film’s “brilliant twist ending” and its “exciting tension” as a thriller, but to me, it was more like forgettable entertainment like The Guardian or The Cleaner.

Last edited by Dale Rasco; 07-18-10 at 08:15 AM.
Osage_Winter is offline  


(blu-ray; , anchor , bay) , doubt , reasonable

Quick Reply

Register Now



Confirm Password
Email Address
Confirm Email Address
Random Question
Random Question #2

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address



Activation requires you reply to an email we will send you after you register... if you do not reply to this email, you will not be able to view certain areas of the forum or certain images... nor will you be able download software.


See our banned email list here: Banned Email List

We DO NOT respond to spamcop, boxtrapper and spamblocker emails... please add @hometheatershack DOT com to your whitelist prior to registering or you will get nowhere on your registration.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML is not allowed!
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome