Plot: What’s it about?
I have often thought of Morgan Freeman and Rene Russo as two of the better actors in Hollywood. I have also thought of them as two of those actors who appear in supporting roles and you kind of wonder “What did I see so and so in…”. Freeman, the veteran of the aforementioned two has been seen in such hits as “Se7en”, “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Nurse Betty” while Rene Russo has had parts in “Major League”, “Tin Cup” and “Get Shorty” just to name a few. Lately, though, it seems that these two have come into their own and have started to headline movies. No problem for me. Freeman’s first role, or one of them anyway aside from “Lean on Me” was “Kiss the Girls”. In Kiss the Girls, Freeman plays Washington D.C. policeman/investigator Alex Cross. Due to the commercial success of the movie, it was natural that some more of James Patterson’s books (most featuring Alex Cross) become movies. This is the second in what will hopefully become a great series of movies…
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. Then again “Along Came a Spider” and “Kiss the Girls” were both surprisingly good hits at the box office, so why would they not make another in the series of movies?
Video: How does it look?
As with most new DVD’s (day and date titles, that is), Along Came a Spider looks terrific. However, the 2.35:1 anamorphic image does tend to have a few problems that you wouldn’t expect for a brand new movie. The color is great as is the level of detail. What I noticed in some scenes was a bit of edge enhancement and a few dirt scratches on the transfer. I was a bit surprised by this, as this movie is so new–you’d figure that the print would be pristine. The black levels were right on target, and as you can imagine, this is a very dark movie (in more ways than one). Overall, the image looks great, better than most out there, but I was expecting a bit more from this title.
Audio: How does it sound?
One thing that didn’t disappoint was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. While certainly not up to reference quality standards, it has it’s moments where it shines. Normally I don’t really pick up much on the LFE level (subwoofer), but there were times when I automatically looked over to the sub…I don’t know why, as you can’t really “see” sound, but it’s a normal reflex and it’s good in this case. 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). A French Dolby Surround mix is also included if you’re so inclined. A good mix and one that won’t disappoint.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Aside from a theatrical trailer presented in anamorphic widescreen, the only real treat we get is what seems to come with all day and date Paramount DVD’s lately. A behind the scenes featurette is the same old thing that we’ve seen time and time again with some interviews with the cast and director. I would have liked to see a little more, considering the success of this movie and it’s predecessor, Kiss the Girls. Still, it’s nice to have this than not. If you’re a fan of this series of movies, then Along Came a Spider is right up your alley.