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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.84%
Worth A Look: 32.47%
Average: 10.39%
Pretty Bad35.71%
Total Crap: 15.58%

11 reviews, 88 user ratings

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Beach, The
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by the Grinch

"Are you a tourist or an adventurer? Do you like films, or entertainment?"
4 stars

The Beach gets pulled apart in several different directions, but much like a marshmallow in a microwave, it sure is fun to watch.

I've not read Alex Garland's novel, but this interpretation makes me want to read it...which in my mind should be one of the primary aspirations of any film based on a book. Not to recreate the book chapter by chapter, but to capture the general mood, and plant a mental tapeworm in the viewer that leaves them hungry for more. It's a tired cliche, but the book is always better than the movie...I'm sure such is the case here. The story itself seems largely inspired by what William Golding's 'Lord of the Flies' had to say about human nature, society, and whether or not you can truly escape the trappings of both. Indeed, in a scene or two, I half expected Leo DiCappucino to start talking to a pig's head on a stick. "Kill the pig, cut its throat, spill its blood!"...hmm, sounds like an Ice-T song...

I seriously doubt there's gonna be any oscar nods here, but the cast does a fairly good job, even those cast members who only seem to be present as 7-11 cardboard stand-ups. While I've never been too fond of Leo DiCampio in leading roles, he's somewhat believeable as our protaganist, Richard...But I still have to say, he looks far too boyish to be such an island playboy. He's still way more GILLIGAN than THURSTON HOWELL III. And I couldn't help but think that this Beach could've used a Professor or two. Anyways, Robert Carlyle teams up with Boyle and Hodge again and puts in the most impressive performance of all as the psychotic Scotsman Dafty, er, Daffy (I know, I KNOW, ROBERT CARLYLE AS A LOONEY, it took me by suprise too!). But, Jesus A Christ, Esquire, can we get a subtitle or two for this guy?! The chemistry between DiCaprio and Carlyle was quite good - one of their scenes in particular had me giggling like Richard Simmons at a baby shower (strangely enough, I was the only person laughing...ahh, the wonders of desensitization). Tilda Swinton's character is cold and she catches Richard in lie after lie, you can actually cut the tension building between the two with a chainsaw. Virginie Ledoyen and Guillame Canet are likeable as Richard's french companions on his journey. The cast of supporting actors and extras are not overly impressive, but the fault is more in the scripting than in their performances.

Speaking of which, the pacing, direction, and script of the film is where we encounter a few problems. While the cinematography is superb and very immersive, at times the pacing and train of thought seem to be jumbled and confused. Boyle seems unsure of what he wants to do with this adaptation of Garland's book. He experiments with several different things while tearing the film asunder in the process. Is it an ode to Conrad and 'Apocalypse Now', or Golding and 'Lord of the Flies'? Or a coming of age adventure? While some of the fanciful interludes seem awkward, they're still interesting and inventive tricks, even though they trip the pacing of the film badly. Hodge's script, likewise, doesn't seem to have rhyme or reason...does it want to develop the characters' infatuation with indepedence and utopia, and their contrasting reluctance to give up the comforts of the modern age? Does it comment on how we destroy the purity and beauty of things we claim to love why not keeping them sacred and whoring them out to whoever? Does it want to explore the notion of "Wherever you are, THERE YOU ARE!"? Does it want to develop any of the characters' relationships (which, sadly, it doesn't do much). Unfortunately, the script opts to be unfocused. A narrative device is occasionally used ala 'Trainspotting', which works for much of the film but is sometimes overbearing. There's also a few plotholes and character motivations that are confusing. Characters act with little justification or explanation behind their motives, subplots whither and die, DiCaprio's character does things that aren't too rational or things that give us little empathy for him...for example:

Thai Carnival Barker: "Hey! Leonardo, wanna come somewhere secluded with me, a COMPLETE stranger, and bite the head off of a live chicken for 700baht (about 20 bucks)?"

Leonardo: "Thanks, dude, but no thanks! I've been through my Ozzy stage."

Thai Carnival Barker: " scared to get samonella, weak kneed-American-who-got-his-butt-kicked-by-Vietnam?"

Leonardo: "GRRR, YOU GOTTA DEAL! You got a breath mint or something?"

Of course, it may just be the nature of the character concerned to be manipulated somewhat. Leo plays an American, and Americans are -for the most part- prideful. Hey, I'll admit it. At least we didn't come up with "SCTV"!

There seems to have been little research done to back things up. For example, in reality most of Thailand's drugs are grown in its northern jungle regions where tourists are too scared to go because they all saw 'The Killing Fields' about neighboring Cambodia. Pol Pot indeed. But this is a movie, and stark realism isn't necessarily one of my first concerns, so no points deducted there.

Even more confusing was the decision to insert a crowd of tourists watching Apocaplyse Now in a theatre...what the hell? When I was in Thailand, you'd have as much of a chance of seeing an old movie from the 70's in a theatre as you would getting that tropical rash you've developed to disappear, or finding a hostel with a Western style toilet, or getting that transsexual to stop following you (Thailand has the world's largest number of female impersonaters. Take that, Miami!). It must've been inserted to show the lengths American tourists will go to just to make the place they're visiting seem that much more like the U.S. It's a sad, but true observation, but I thought using a film that has so much in common with its host somewhat confusing and spoofy. That may have been the intent, who knows with ol' Danny boy!

My rating is based on the fact that I paid the matinee price and the fact that after all this I'm still not quite sure how I feel about what I've was entertaining, definitely, and I thought Boyle and Hodges overall made an interesting film.

If you encourage your suspension-of-disbelief and simply expect pure entertainment, I think you'll enjoy 'The Beach'. Just ignore that dying whale next to you wailing (or is that whaling) and slapping it's fins, and whatever you do, DON'T look at the hairy fatguy "jogging" down the beach in his speedos! Just don't!

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originally posted: 02/15/00 00:06:08
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell boring IMHO 1 stars
10/15/07 fools♫gold danny boyle in all his perfectness 5 stars
5/02/07 Vin Mostly good, ending a bit weak though 4 stars
2/04/07 William Goss A Gen-X Lord-of-the-Flies that isn't nearly as profound as it thinks it is. 2 stars
2/01/07 Matt If the movie doesn't even know what it's trying to say, how should we? 2 stars
10/01/06 Beau i loved it, action packed movie with a hint of horror. Loved the secrecy in it. 5 stars
5/04/06 tatum Dull mumbo-jumbo, Leo is really terrible 2 stars
5/03/06 Anthony Feor Leo's career is flushed down the toilet 1 stars
2/22/06 Ronin a very interesting script 4 stars
8/30/05 LS Galvin Very pleasing to the eye - worth a watch! 4 stars
8/18/05 ES Says a lot about society, betrayal and waste, but they went with the goof as a lead= bad 2 stars
5/17/05 Indrid Cold Strange, dull story. 2 stars
2/13/05 Alice Colwell not bad 4 stars
12/09/04 Kristina Williams bad choice to follow up Titanic. MORE water?! 2 stars
12/07/04 Gaza This film is crap. Danny continues his downward spiral that bottoms out in teh aweful 28 Da 2 stars
9/10/04 jeff good movie till it turns weird close to the ending. 4 stars
9/09/03 Niels Hesse REALLY GOOD MOVIE 5 stars
8/28/03 Mr. Hat Really good script and acting, and great directing. 4 stars
7/11/03 Kelli cool 4 stars
2/26/03 Blabity blah Didn't know if it wanted to be the Blue Lagoon or Apocoplyse Now 2 stars
9/29/02 Fuze44 I wanted the main character to die. 1 stars
9/24/02 I Can't Swim You shitheads that hate Leo should choke on my prostate gland 5 stars
5/18/02 azzouz mohamed rachid doctor 5 stars
2/20/02 Monster W. Kung Superficial and annoying. What a disappointment after Trainspotting. 2 stars
1/16/02 Cookie Cutter Pretty moronic and fake, though the scenery is beautiful. 2 stars
10/09/01 Mark Conway Starts off well, but then struggles to make any real inpact, poor plot, leo's too fucked up 3 stars
9/13/01 Gary Poor adaptation that skims over the novel's themes. Ledoyen & the photography are good tho. 2 stars
7/29/01 Mike Hunt I thought Leo met his demise on the Titanic! Too bad. 1 stars
6/21/01 Tzila Seewald It's disgusting movie! 2 stars
6/07/01 Rampage I hate your review, Hawk, you used to be reliable, now you give this dumb movie four stars 1 stars
4/23/01 Luke Great movie. 5 stars
4/16/01 Tam Exotic and memorable yarn, beautiful scenery, but a bit thin on plot. 4 stars
3/02/01 lisa psycho! they're all nuts 1 stars
2/22/01 Fredy Great movie if you go see it high. Nardo really sucks though. 2 stars
2/15/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) =| 3 stars
12/07/00 Stuntman One of the worst in a whole line of screwed up teenybopper movies. Damn you Leo! 1 stars
11/20/00 natasha a little uneven, but some interesting ideas played well 4 stars
10/16/00 Dan Stunning scenery and good cinematography, but Hodge sure fucked up the story. 2 stars
9/27/00 mephetic Haha, this movie is pretty damn funny. It ALMOST makes Leo cool. 4 stars
9/15/00 Overflow Bitch Very good, VERY VERY UNDERRATED. Well written, interesting, great scenery all around. 4 stars
9/12/00 Ground Zero DiCaprio is the parasite... terminate with extreme prejuice... 1 stars
9/04/00 The Extreaminizer Good If you want to see DeCrapio smoke pot for 2 hours, anyways, it sucks major ass 1 stars
8/04/00 skeletor de-CRAP-io sucks 1 stars
7/30/00 The Bomb 69 what's up with the video game sequence? plot holes the size of Montana 2 stars
7/04/00 Tandi Pretty good a bit odd at times though! 4 stars
5/05/00 everythingsucks purty scenery, a few plot holes 4 stars
4/29/00 Pansy Screw Leo Di Caprio and his mom 2 stars
4/09/00 saMas Too many plot holes. could have been more entertaining 4 stars
4/04/00 Tim Total Shit Ass 1 stars
3/29/00 Zappa Not a good adaptation, but probably ok if your standards aren't that high. 3 stars
3/27/00 Coolio The best fucking movie i have ever seen. 5 stars
3/23/00 Laura Not bad for a Leo Dicap film 4 stars
3/22/00 Brigid McFoster If you can get over the fact that it is not like the book you may just think it is okay 3 stars
3/22/00 rebecca great movie!! 4 stars
3/20/00 Leonardo Dicaprio Adventure, action, comedy, and all round excellent 5 stars
3/20/00 MR HOLLYWOOD!! Leonardo should stick to SINKING! All i can say is BOORRRIINNGGGG 2 stars
3/18/00 DK Not a get away from the bad guys as previews suggest 4 stars
3/16/00 KEVIN DALEY TERRIBLE 1 stars
3/15/00 Lame-Oh WTH? Gilligan's Island on ludes 1 stars
3/12/00 Pix everything about this film is crap 1 stars
3/10/00 m0vieboy The whole video game scene ruined the movie!! 2 stars
3/03/00 Ben Ryan WTF? Nothing like the previews make you think. Good location shots, horrible acting. 3 stars
3/02/00 Bornslippy ripped the novel apart, only commentable aspects were music and cinematography 2 stars
2/29/00 Captain Highcrime A "Gilligan's Island" tale strictly for the girls and their "little buddy" vibrators. 3 stars
2/25/00 Bozo Not half as bad as you miserable cocksuckers are making it out to be 4 stars
2/22/00 toneely sucked so bad 1 stars
2/22/00 Chartsy Horrible reviews elsewhere lowered my expectations I think. 4 stars
2/22/00 Mr. Kramitall I Know What You Did Last Summer on vacation... horrible! 1 stars
2/22/00 Overflow Bitch Not as good as I had hoped, but still a fresh change, and Leo was pretty good. 4 stars
2/22/00 amy r. dawson pretty damned good. 4 stars
2/21/00 Melissa Good flick, I like Leo better now. More entertaining than the book. 4 stars
2/19/00 Lame-Oh The only answer to Leo's crummy acting... he's one lousy pissant. 1 stars
2/19/00 Mortis I enojyed the movie for what it was... a movie. I was entralled. 4 stars
2/19/00 Matthew Bartley Very good and interesting 4 stars
2/16/00 Kyle Broflovski Leo's about to lose his mojo...and it shows... 3 stars
2/15/00 Neil Austin Not a bad film, stop comparing every Boyle film to Trainspotting, cause he won't top it. 4 stars
2/15/00 JJ a real stinker, 1 stars
2/15/00 Chris Wheeler Spent the whole time thinking of better things I could be doing. 1 stars
2/15/00 Cheaps Better than I thought. Entertaining. 4 stars
2/13/00 Roman Hmmm it was very interesting... 3 stars
2/13/00 majawat A pretty, bad movie 3 stars
2/13/00 toneely This movie sucked really bad. I didn't care if they all had got ate by sharks 1 stars
2/13/00 Terrance and Philip this movie was better than looking for pennies up my bum!<BR>ASS-TASTIC! 5 stars
2/13/00 Gavin Moore This movie is a rental at best. I feel raped for spending 14 dollars. 1 stars
2/12/00 Catherine Leo is gay, Gay, GAY!!!!! 1 stars
2/12/00 Lame-Oh Goddam this trash! That Leo is one sorry-ass maggot. Bitchslap that miserable puke! 1 stars
2/11/00 Bob Jones Its got that fag from titanic in it, it sucks the _fat_ one 1 stars
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  11-Feb-2000 (R)
  DVD: 22-Oct-2002


  09-Mar-2000 (MA)

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