Plot: What’s it about?
2001 was an interesting year for movies. Four years prior we’d been introduced to Alex Cross in Kiss the Girls. Fans of the novels by James Patterson had been introduced to Cross nearly a decade ago in Patterson’s first book – Along Came a Spider. Why Kiss the Girls was made before this is beyond me, but each novel/movie stands on its own so I suppose it’s of no consequence. While the movie didn’t break the $100 mark at the box office, it did more than double its $27 million dollar budget and in Hollywood we know what that means – sequel! Fans of the novels know what to expect and I’m willing to bet that the darker tone and nature of this movie would be an interesting movie-going experience. We know Alex Cross always gets his man, but would he be so lucky this time?
Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) has been retired, but has just been reinstated to full, active duty due to a kidnapping of a very special child. Cross has been sent a reminder, a red shoe, of the importance of the case and is no sooner on the job than he meets his partner. Jezzie Flaninagan (Monica Potter) is your typical above-average beauty who happens to have chosen law enforcement as a career. What these two have in common is not much, but they’re both looking for Megan, the daughter of a prominent Senator and his wife. I have to say that the role of the Senator played by “Law and Order’s” Michael Moriarity and his wife played by Penelope Ann Miller are no more than that of weeping parents. I’m not sure if these two actors have slipped that far down the scale or they just wanted these parts, but I expected a lot more out of both of them and did not get it. With all of the movies out now about kidnapping and ransom demands, this movie doesn’t disappoint in it’s plot line. We see many different plots take place and are ultimately called upon to draw not one, but many conclusions that take place during the movie. Cross, as per usual, is dependent upon to be the “good guy” and make everything work. Does he or doesn’t he?
Patterson’s books are great, there’s no denying that, but I feel with the success of Kiss the Girls, they hurried this and are trying to cash in on Morgan Feeman’s success as an actor to make the rest of the series work as films. Will we see more of Patterson’s work on film…I would tend to think so, though you can never tell. They’re interesting stories and fun to watch, but I think that they might be a little to mainstream for all of us to take in.
Video: How does it look?
Along Came a Spider has benefitted from a few digital touchups and the 2.40:1 AVC image does look improved. The color is great as is the level of detail. Some grain is noticeable in a few of the darker scenes, but the black levels were right on target, and as you can imagine, this is a very dark movie (in more ways than one). Again, if you’ve seen films like Silence of the Lambs or Se7en, then you’ll know what to expect here. It’s a good-looking image of a movie that’s nearly 15 years old, so I doubt too many hands will be thrown up in protest as this gets the job done.
Audio: How does it sound?
One thing that didn’t disappoint was the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. While certainly not up to reference quality standards, it has it’s moments where it shines. Dialogue is very clean, but mainly you’ll find that this is more like a great Dolby Surround mix (which is also included on the disc if, for some reason, you don’t want to hear the movie the way it’s supposed to sound). Like Kiss the Girls, this features a fairly impressive range of sound with the surrounds helping out, but by and large it’s a good, basic mix that’s sure to delight.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The DVD contained a brief “Making Of…” featurette that’s nowhere to be found here. Like Kiss the Girls, this is lacking in the supplemental department.
The Bottom Line
Fans of Alex Cross were living large between 1997 and 2001 with two of James Patterson’s novels hitting the big screen. Unfortunately there would be no more until 2012’s Alex Cross which received less than stellar reviews (and featured Tyler Perry as Cross as opposed to Freeman). While this Blu-ray improves on the technical merits of the DVD, the featurette has actually been ditched and we’ve got a movie with no supplements. It’s hard to recommend a purchase, but for a good, early ’00’s thriller – this one is hard to beat.