Plot: What’s it about?
A killer walks the streets and hunts down young children, but aside from their deaths, little is known about the crimes. Each of the kids were six years old, but no real connections have been made and as such, no suspect has been located. Six years prior to this, workaholic nurse Maggie O’Connor (Kim Basinger) has a surprise visit from her youngster sister, who brings with her a newborn baby. A strange star was seen that night and in the future, that night would mean a lot, as all the victims were born that evening. As Maggie raises young Cody (Holliston Coleman), the two become close and Maggie notices some unusual behavior from her, which includes hearing voices and claiming to see things that others can’t see. After all these years, Maggie’s sister returns with a reclusive self help guru named Eric Stark (Rufus Sewell), asking to have her daughter returned to her right away. Maggie has no time to argue, as the two simply take Cody and Maggie goes to the police station, where she meets John Travis (Jimmy Smits), a special agent who used to be a biblical scholar. Travis thinks some dark connection exists between the deaths of the children, Cody, and Eric Stark, but he has no evidence to back up his claim. As time runs out to save Cody from an unknown fate, can Travis and Maggie sort out the situation and figure out what to do?
This film was hammered by critics and audiences, but I had to see for myself, so when this disc arrived I gave it a quick spin. In the end, I found this to be a pretty good supernatural thriller and above else, a visual feast well worth the effort. Of course, the storyline is not a new one and it can be predictable, but with such lush visuals and some terrific performances, this one ends up being better than I expected. I’m not sure what the critics expected, but I wanted a decent thriller and this movie more than fulfills that request. I admit this is not a classic by any means, but if you’re a fan of the genre, I think this is a solid motion picture to check out. Kim Basinger leads a solid cast here, which also includes Jimmy Smits, Christina Ricci, and Rufus Sewell, all of whom seem in fine form. As I said, the visuals are superb and the film also has some very cool special effects, which enhance the film a little also. I know this one got a lot of mixed reviews, but if you’re at all interested, give this disc a rental and judge for yourself.
I was surprised that people didn’t like Kim Basinger’s work here, as I think she turns in a solid overall performance. I’ve always found her work to be hit and miss, but when she is on, she can be fantastic. This performance seems to fall under her finest efforts, but she is still impressive here and much better than I expected. We don’t get to know much about her character, but Basinger brings some good traits to the role and that adds some depth. I do think she could work better with a more defined and complex part, but I am still pleased with her work in this picture. Other films with Basinger include L.A. Confidential, I Dreamed Of Africa, Batman, Never Say Never Again, Nine 1/2 Weeks, Cool World, and PrΩt-α-Porter. The cast also includes Holliston Coleman (Supreme Sanction), Rufus Sewell (Dark City, Dangerous Beauty), Angela Bettis (Girl Interrupted, The Last Best Sunday), Ian Holm (The Fifth Element, The Sweet Hereafter), Christina Ricci (The Addams Family, The Ice Storm), and Jimmy Smits (The Million Dollar Hotel, Price of Glory).
Video: How does it look?
Bless The Child is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As usual with their day & date releases, Paramount supplies an excellent visual presentation here. This is a visually driven movie, so I am pleased it has been given such a rich treatment, as that ensures the full range of impact is present. The film’s vivid color scheme comes across well here, with rich hues and no signs of flaws, while flesh tones appear natural as well. No problems with contrast either, as black levels are dead on and no visible detail loss is evident here. I also saw no compression errors present, which means this transfer is worthy of a high score.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 is very good and provides a terrific audio experience. Now this mix isn’t as powerful as more action driven fare, but I was pleased with the surround use and dynamic range found here. The musical score is well mixed and adds a lot to the presentation, but the surrounds also see action from the sound effects often. A few scenes really test the speakers and most have a nice depth to them, which enhances the atmosphere more than a little, to be sure. The dialogue also comes through well here, sharp and crisp at all times, with no volume errors to report. I wasn’t expecting much from this track, but it delivers the goods and then some. This disc also includes 2.0 surround tracks in English and French, as well as English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
In an unusual turn for Paramount, this disc comes with a nice selection of bonus materials. A brief featurette is included, filled with cast & crew interviews and some behind the scenes footage. I wish this was an extended piece, but this featurette still offers some good information, in between the promotional moments. You can also listen to an audio commentary track, which features director Chuck Russell and visual f/x supervisor Joel Hynek. I found the track to be loaded with information on the production, as both men seem to have a lot to share here. Russell seems more active in the end, but I think the two provide a terrific overall track and that adds a lot to this disc.