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Beyond Borders

Beyond Borders on DVD

Beyond Borders is the kind of movie that goes beyond the borders of bad moviemaking, and soars way past insulting - within the first ten minutes.

Angelina Jolie plays Sarah Jordan, a member of an organization that helps starving people in less fortunate countries.

When Nick Callahan (Clive Owen) crashes the organization’s 20th Anniversary party, he’s clearly upset about something. He manages to give a speech without anyone stopping him, and we quickly learn that he belongs to an overseas charity that has just had its funding cut by “someone in the room.” He’s angry because these people are throwing a $1000 a plate dinner party while there are people starving in Africa, just like the boy he brought with him to inspire sympathy.

His plan works, to a point. Sarah feels bad, and decides to head to Africa to help out. On the way to the village in question, she stops to pick up a dying woman and her baby, who looks like he’s never eaten a single bite in his life. From there, things get more intense as Sarah does everything in her power to save a starving, war-torn country from slipping deeper into helplessness, while trying to maintain a clichéd, Hollywood-style romance with Nick.

It doesn’t take long to figure out in which direction the movie is going. Within ten minutes it becomes one of the most politically correct, anti-capitalist pieces of tripe I’ve yet seen. But then, when you think about it a little more, you realize it’s not anti-capitalist at all: it basically says money is good, as long as you’re giving it to someone less fortunate (who not only didn’t do a thing to earn it, but who also probably wouldn’t know what to do with it if they had it). It makes us wonder exactly how much of the movie’s multi-million dollar budget went towards feeding starving children.

The little boy that Sarah picks up is done, for some reason, entirely by CGI. The only logical reason we can come up with for such a thing, is that they couldn’t find an African boy dilapidated enough for their liking. But this, then, makes it feel like they’re exaggerating how bad things really are, and they’re just trying to make us feel guilty for not sending every penny we earn overseas. It doesn’t do much for the movie’s credibility, and it’s not the kind of feeling we like to get from something that’s supposed to entertain us.

Not only is the CGI poorly done (by 2004 standards, at least), but the baby looks like some kind of ghost-devil baby. If it’s trying to inspire sympathy, it shouldn’t look so creepy.

Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen do a good job with the lead roles, and the production values are great, but the movie is far too terrible to be worth anyone’s time. People with money are evil, people who fight for freedom are evil; the only good people are the ones who physically go and help in the villages. Interestingly enough, every one of these people seem to be eating okay, so it seems to me if they really cared about their cause, they’d give their food up (but I guess it’s anti-money, not anti-food).

The fact that I was insulted right off the bat by Beyond Borders is bad enough. The fact that it’s also a very tediously bad movie makes it that much harder to get through. Recommended only for people with very strong stomachs.

Though the movie was one of Ms. Jolie’s bigger flops (and there have been some big ones), the DVD of Beyond Borders is actually pretty good. Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, the picture is pretty good for the most part, but colors look a little muddy. The desert scenes are well done, with excellent detail and not a trace of grain. But during the scenes that take place in the city, colors look a bit like they’re going to run away (maybe it’s more PC crap; they’re trying to say the world we live in is fake – that the only true life is sitting around and starving. Or maybe I’m still just a little upset).

The audio, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, is a little better, but still not spectacular. Surrounds are not given much of a workout (despite plenty of opportunities), and the score sounds a little overdubbed. Dialogue and sound effects are separated well, and the subwoofer rumbles nicely.

Extras include a 40-minute making-of featurette that’s been split into two parts (and advertised that way) for some reason.

The thing about this doc is that, even though it’s pretty well produced and informative, it’s hard to justify spending forty more minutes on this travesty.

There’s also an audio commentary by director Martin Campbell (who gave us some good stuff, before now) and producer Lloyd Phillips, which I was hoping was going to be one big apology. But it’s actually interesting to hear them talk about the film’s drawbacks, and it seems the studio had a large role to play in the final cut of the film. Hmm…

Other extras include an 8-minute conversation with writer Caspian Tredwell-Owen, and a featurette on Angelina Jolie’s goodwill efforts to help refugees.

Beyond Borders, from Paramount Home Entertainment
126 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen, Teri Polo, Linus Roache, Noah Emmerich
Produced by Dan Halsted and Lloyd Phillips
Written by Caspian Tredwell-Owen, Directed by Martin Campbell


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