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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 Rob Gonsalves

"Danny Boyle's bungle in the jungle."
2 stars

Every year, Hollywood breaks out a fable explaining why nature would be, like, really cool if it weren't for us darn humans running around spoiling everything. (Which may be true, but what business does a multi-million-dollar, resource-hogging movie have preaching to us about being kind to Mother Earth?) Last year brought the insipid 'Instinct,' with its gutsy stance that we should leave the nice gorillas alone and not slaughter them; the year before that, 'The Thin Red Line,' in which men went to war with parrots, tall grass, and their own florid voice-overs.

At least we're getting this year's model out of the way early. The Beach, a mad assemblage of earlier, better bungle-in-the-jungle stories (Lord of the Flies, Apocalypse Now, etc.), is well-crafted drivel -- certainly easier to sit through than the abovementioned eco-dramas. Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) does all he can do to keep the screen alive and humming, and in purely cinematic terms -- the assaultive shotgun wedding of image and sound, the lush scenery bumping against relentless techno music -- the movie isn't bad; some of it is even compelling.

It's the spine beneath the style that weakens and cracks. The consensus is that The Beach, adapted for the screen by Boyle's regular scripter John Hodge, parts ways considerably with the theme and emphasis of Alex Garland's acclaimed novel; not having read the book, I'll take everyone's word for it and assume Garland's Beach is purer than Boyle's, which would not be hard. The corruption may begin with the casting of überhunk Leonardo DiCaprio, who once seemed such a risky actor, as the story's hero Richard, who seeks paradise and thinks he's found it on a remote island near Thailand. DiCaprio seems to be out to prove he can do mainstream action-movie shit. His defining moment here comes during a sprightly sequence in which Boyle turns him into a video-game character; it's Run Leo Run.

Richard is tipped off to the island by a crazed visionary named Daffy (an underused, barely comprehensible Robert Carlyle), who leaves Richard a tattered map. Richard and a young French couple, Étienne (Guillaume Canet) and Françoise (Virginie Ledoyen), swim to the island and swiftly settle in after a misadventure with local marijuana farmers. A society has been set up in the jungle; its ideology boils down to "Keep everyone else out." People get sick or die because they can't leave the paradise, which is ruled with a quiet iron hand by Sal (Tilda Swinton), a potentially interesting character as ill-defined as everyone else in the movie.

The Beach sketches in a love triangle -- Richard and Françoise cozy up to each other -- only to abandon it; the movie pretends to have bigger fish to fry (sometimes literally; we get to see Leo vs. a baby shark). Richard eventually sees that this idyllic society is as ruthless and violent -- as red in tooth and claw -- as the jostling city world he fled; the only major difference is more sand and less asphalt. For a while, the movie toys with alienation as Richard holes up alone on the outskirts of the village, staring across the water at newcomers who haven't swum over yet. Bad things are in store for the newbies. Richard witnesses brutal death on the island, and he has a startling revelation: the movie's almost over, and he should really head back to the village in time for a big dramatic climax.

Who knows what the movie is saying about civilization and nature? Perhaps that when more than two people get together, disaster is inevitable. There's nowhere, not even paradise, that you can go to escape the greed and callousness of mankind. Here and there, Danny Boyle appears to be working subversively: Richard isn't really a hero -- he's either passive or running away. But what is he running away from? He doesn't seem that unhappy in an urban setting, and the lurid scenes in downtown Bangkok are unavoidably more exciting than the picture-postcard island, where people mostly get stoned; when they're feeling particularly robust, they assemble for some volleyball on the beach, while a villager is left to die of a shark bite miles away. These people don't deserve paradise; neither do any of us, I suppose.

'The Beach' is a high-toned bummer disguised as a primal hipster drama.

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originally posted: 01/02/07 06:15:06
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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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