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What Lies Beneath (DVD)
Member Name: wampyrii
What Lies Beneath (DVD)
Date: 16/01/03, updated on 22/01/03 (187 review reads)
Advantages: Storyline is interesting, even if you know where it's going, Ford and Pfeiffer gel well and performances are good all round, Disc is OK, but nothing special in terms of extras
Disadvantages: Iffy sound perhaps? Probably just me..., no chocks, no scares, lack of tension throughout, twists signposted far in advance, necessary because we're all dummies apparently ;o)
I do. I didn't like this.
It has been a while since I saw this at the cinema and to be honest, it didn't really do much for me at the time and I wouldn't have been interested in the DVD were it not a freebie from Fox.co.uk...if you're quick they might still be offering a choice of it, Doctor Doolittle or The Full Monty just for signing up to their free newsletter...
Anyway, I wasn't impressed by the movie which came in the wake of The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense and was obviously trying to cash in on the big business which these two movies generated at the box office. Compared to either, it's lame - there are few shocks, few surprises and without Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer in the two main roles and Robert Zemeckis in the director's chair I can't see it would have been anywhere near so well received as it was by many viewers. It's a ghost story, billed as a tense, suspense filled chiller which in actual fact offers few surprises and little in the way of ghostly goings on either for that matter. Director Robert Zemeckis doesn't usually do this kind of thing and to be honest, it shows! I suppose if you don't like being scared by ghost stories then this is the movie for you, everyone else, well, it's watchable and the story is interesting, if obvious, but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see it.
The general plot is something I'm going to skip over so as not to give anything away for those who are interested in watching. You basically have Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford moving in to a new house and Pfeiffer hearing voices and seeing things which leaves her questioning whether she is losing it, or whether there is a presence in the house and if so, what does it want with them? Yes it's a lot more complex than that, but frankly, the interesting plot is one of the few things which keeps this movie's head above water so I'm not going to say a
ny more, suffice to say, it does twist and turn and is interesting, if a little on the damn obvious side if you follow the pointers. The acting performances from those involved are all great, Pfeiffer and Ford can always be relied upon and there is a fair amount of chemistry between them leaving you under no impression that they are anything less than a happily married couple and the supporting cast, not that they are around much, are solid. If you watch closely you'll notice references to Hitchcock slipped into the screenplay frequently as well which is kinda cool, particularly if you are a fan...and especially for me at the moment because I'm working my way through his movies which I haven't really watched since I was a kid. Technically it's good and technically it's a solid thriller but technically, it doesn't really have any bite to it either and personally, I was bored for the most part because little really happens and there is little promise that anything ever will.
I wasn't impressed by some of the red herring elements which are telegraphed way in advance to the point where almost a third of the film is wasted on building one up a sub-plot to an obvious dull conclusion. Nor was I impressed by the little hints and tips throughout as to what was to come which are delivered with an almost sledgehammer obviousness...it's one of those movies which offer you elements early on to piece together the plot...unfortunately, it gives too much away and leaves you drumming your fingers waiting for it to get to the point, worse if you?ve seen the trailer which says far too much! Neither was I impressed by some deus ex machina plot twists which have been implemented to forcibly insert some twists into a screenplay which is otherwise a little devoid of anything exciting at all...but there's the chance you won't notice, Hollywood regularly gets away with similar so probably not in most cases. What I really didn't like about
the movie though was the distinct lack of inventiveness and the even more distinct lack of shocks and tension generated by What Lies Beneath. Zemeckis talks about the slow burn effect in his commentary but frankly, there's a difference between a slow build up of tension and a screenplay which has its audience dropping off to sleep before the inevitable grandstand conclusion!
Do you like scary movies? If not, then this is the scary movie for you! That's the bottom line.
So What's The DVD Like?
(Just a word of warning, most of the extras are jammed full of spoilers so watch the movie first)
Picture quality is excellent, crisp clear images and I can't fault it, nor would I expect to be able to on a recent major Hollywood release. Umm, oddly, and perhaps it's my set-up which this is unique to, but the soundtrack seems to be incredibly quiet to the point where I have to crank the sound on my TV up to double normal volume to be able to hear it properly! The menu music is loud though so I have to crank it back down again...grrr. It doesn't make the disc unwatchable, I mean, once the film has started you'll only need to change the volume once, but it's a little 'odd' shall we say. Anyhoo, picture quality and sound are fine other than that and if you choose to watch with subtitles enabled, they are clearly presented with a black background which is always good...I hate it when they just throw white text on the screen and half of it disappears amongst the background images! Multiple languages can be selected for subtitles...just one for audio.
Ahh menus, simple things but can still be annoying. This one makes you sit through something like a 13 second montage of images from the best parts of the movie before you can actually get to the options and again throws in more images when you visit the various sub-menus which is annoying but otherwise it
9;s all pretty simple to navigate around.
Extra DVD Features
Well...it has some! I've got to be honest, I love the extra features on DVDs and absolutely hate when a really good movie gets released with naff, or no, extra bits and pieces. Yes, I know you really want to watch the film, not a bunch of documentaries etc. but when you're paying often double the price of a video it's kinda nice to get a little something extra too! What Lies Beneath has extras but nothing too exciting, I suppose it doesn't really lend itself to exciting extras, but there you go. It would have been nice to see a little more input from the two main stars but otherwise, nothing less than you'd expect. You get:
Umm, can I say BORING? Can I also say dumb-assed and patronising? Director and producer drone on about the very rare interesting thing whilst occasionally making some of the most bizarre, inane comments I've ever heard. Aside from being enormously pleased to have got Ford and Pfeiffer in the same movie(because according to them, it incredibly rare to see such big Hollywood names in the same movie together...on who?s planet we wonder) they also regularly compare What Lies Beneath favourably with Hitchcock's work, which is fair enough as that's obviously who they were trying to emulate, but please, at least recognise its limitations as well! At one point(rather amusingly) they go so far as to say Hitchcock today wouldn't be able to afford to get the big stars to work with him but Zemeckis would. Haaaaaaa! Zemeckis or Hitchcock...Zemeckis or Hitchcock...I wonder who they, or anyone else in Hollywood, would choose? lol A little too much of the commentary sounded like sucking on Zemeckis? butt to be be honest and frankly, he's good, but he ain't that good at thrillers and given the choice between Hitchcock or Zemeckis I don't think there'd be too many floc
king in his direction! I also got kinda tired of
being told, this bit is really clever, this bit everyone laughs at and so on as well. Most annoying was the patronising 'I don't think the audience understood this bit' comments which litter the commentary. It is probably due to the fact that the pairing think their audience isn't that bright that they ended up making such an, arguably very well acted, nicely shot etc. but ultimately rather obvious thriller...
This isn't one of those commentaries you can watch whilst continuing to enjoy the movie either, this is one which entirely over-rides the on screen soundtrack which I've never been a fan of. Director's commentaries are something which either work or don't on movies, I guess I was never really into this movie in the first place to really care so you might get a little more out of it than me. it all kinda felt a little too self-congratulatory to me and almost like they were trying to sell the whole thing all over again...and to be honest, after around 30 mins, I found it very difficult to continue concentrating on what they were saying. Apparently the idea was to create the kind of thriller technically beyond Hitchcock which arguably they achieved, unfortunately, they missed out on things like tension, shocks and intrigue.
Constructing The Perfect Thriller
A short mini-documentary which is more like an extended trailer at the beginning with some actor and director commentaries slipped in and then turns into a brief bio of director Robert Zemeckis. Nothing at all to do with either What Lies Beneath or 'constructing the perfect thriller' for the most part but there you go! It's interesting to be taken on this whistle stop tour of Zemeckis' past movies including the likes of Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Contact, Back To The Future etc. with behind the scenes footage and comments from their stars though and when we do
get back to the movie itself then it's interesting to here what Pfeiffer(Ford was boring) has to say about some of the scenes she was in.
I've never really understood why they include these but there you go, there's one here too. Umm, it kinda gives an awful lot away in retrospect but I suppose you don't realise it at the time. Just don?t watch it before the movie itself, just in case. Nothing worse than a trailer full of spoilers...
16 pages of additional info. about the movie if you want to read it...
Cast & Filmmakers
Oh I might read these one day - basically more written bios for the main cast and crew for you to skip through if you're interested. I wasn?t but I rarely am unless you're looking at a cast and crew of unknowns. Maybe something to save for a very raining day.
Well that's your lot. Aside from 'Constructing The Perfect Thriller' I wasn't too interested in the extra bits and pieces this disc has to offer but in all fairness, it's not the kind of movie which lends itself to an exciting selection of extras either so you can't complain too much. The commentary was flippin' boring though, if also kind of entertaining for the wrong reasons... You'll be buying the movie itself though rather than the extras and aside from the sound being very quiet you can't fault the production quality. The movie itself isn't all bad in fairness, but it didn't work for me and if you're looking for it to follow its billing as a chiller or a suspense-filled movie to rival Hitchcock?s best as Zemeckis seems to think, then forget it, not a chance does it work on that level! Let?s call it a generous 3 stars.