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Alone Came A Spider
07-23-2006, 04:38 PM
Review Date: August 15, 2002
Released by: Paramount
Release date: 9/25/2001
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
There are two categories that crime thrillers fall into. We have the ones that reveal their criminal at the beginning of the film and the ones that save that surprise for the end. Other than that, these films are pretty much identical. What will really set a crime thriller apart from its peers are the writer and director. The writer needs to give an original flavor to his/her material and a director needs to transform that vision to the screen. James Patterson is the outstanding author who wrote Kiss the Girls. It was brought to the screen and met with box office success. First time writer Marc Cross has the task of adapting Patterson's Along Came a Spider and making it work as well. Can Cross maintain Patterson's vision with his adaptation? Can Lee Tamahori weave Along Came a Spider into a modern classic? Tune in next week for……aww, what the hell. Tune in now!
We begin with a memory that Detective Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) would love to forget. He was running a sting operation that suddenly takes a turn for the worse. With his partner at an unheard of risk, Cross loses his grip on the situation. The end result is the death of his partner. As Alex mulls over his past, far away from any type of work, he is invited back into the game by Gary Soneji (Michael Wincott).
Professor Soneji has just fulfilled an elaborate plan to kidnap Megan Rose (Mika Boorem), the daughter of U.S. Senator Hank Rose (Michael Moriarty). He also murdered a schoolteacher and managed to do all of this under the watchful eyes of the Secret Service. Agent Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter), who is personally responsible for the well-being of Senator Rose's daughter, has certainly had her professional reputation damaged by this crime. Agent Flannigan is perceived as the woman who couldn't do a man's job by her more masculine peers.
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Soneji feels that having a well respected man like Alex Cross will generate some buzz on his case, thus cementing his place as one of the all time great criminal masterminds. Soneji feeds Cross subtle leads, as well as hard evidence, to force his participation on the case. Upon arriving, Cross teams up with Agent Flannigan in an effort to use her "inside knowledge" and help solve the dilemma. He feels her two years experience within the school and consistent interaction with Professor Soneji can help them reach a conclusion. However, it may be the experience and attention to detail that gives Cross a different question. Is Soneji the one the Feds want or is he just a small piece to a larger puzzle?
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/acas/acas_shot4s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/acas/acas_shot4l.jpg) Of course, telling anymore about the film could potentially spoil the fun for those of you interested in seeing this movie. Along Came a Spider has the usual twists and turns that suspense thrillers use to keep viewers on their toes. The turn of events is gladly welcomed as we already know who the kidnapper is, thus eliminating a potentially dull storyline. The action scenes were placed well throughout the film. As soon as the movie began to morph into a glorified cop drama, an event or discovery would take place to break the monotony.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/acas/acas_shot5s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/acas/acas_shot5l.jpg) One thing that irks me about thrillers like Along Came a Spider are characters with 'all of the answers'. You know I am referring to the young hotshot rebel cop who cracks the case or gets a great lead by pulling some crazy theory out of left field. Fortunately, I never got that feeling with this film, which is most likely due to Morgan Freeman's excellent acting skills. Morgan Freeman gives the impression that he has been through a lifetime of riddles and managed to solve everyone (with the exception of the one at the beginning of the film). His laid back persona gives him a connection with viewers as a regular guy. When he gets leads on a case, we understand his thought process and see how he comes to his conclusions. Morgan Freeman's portrayal of Alex Cross gives the character depth that many actors struggle to achieve.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/acas/acas_shot6s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/acas/acas_shot6l.jpg) Overall, I enjoyed Along Came a Spider. There were a few places in the movie that seemed a bit far fetched and Soneji's lust for fame was very similar to Daryll Lee Cullum's (Harry Connick Jr.) from Copycat. What we ultimately end up with a dose of reality with the rules bent a little bit. I like how James Patterson's novels parallel Tom Clancy's in that he manages to take a subject (in this case law enforcement vs. criminals) and give it different looks without being redundant. Kiss the Girls had similar characteristics, but Along Came a Spider stands on its own by changing perspectives and victims. Though I found spots where Along Came a Spider may have borrowed ideas form other films, Kiss the Girls never came to mind even though I expected it too. Even Alex Cross, the character from both films, has changed careers from a doctor to a detective. Much applause goes to the director for thinking of the movie going public and not giving us a cookie cutter crime thriller.
Paramount has given us what seems to be their standard these days - anamorphic widescreen. The film's aspect ratio of 2.35:1 looks superb. Colors are vibrant and there is great attention to detail. The use of special effects are minimal, but effective. Another great transfer from the folks at Paramount.
Jerry Goldsmith's scores are made for surround sound. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track submerges viewers within the music, using each speaker perfectly. The dialogue is crisp and at a good volume throughout the film. If I were just taking dialogue into consideration, a Dolby Digital 2. 0 track would do just fine for Along Came a Spider; however, the great use of 5.1 channels helps the music take the movie's audio to a different level. There are also Dolby surround tracks in English and French for those interested.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/acas/acas_menus.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/acas/acas_menul.jpg) Jerry Goldsmith's scores are made for surround sound. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track submerges viewers within the music, using each speaker perfectly. The dialogue is crisp and at a good volume throughout the film. If I were just taking dialogue into consideration, a Dolby Digital 2. 0 track would do just fine for Along Came a Spider; however, the great use of 5.1 channels helps the music take the movie's audio to a different level. There are also Dolby surround tracks in English and French for those interested.
The featurette is a brief look at the filming of certain scenes from Along Came a Spider. It covers the plot and character outlines, but does not discuss anything that could ruin the movie for those who have yet to see it. It is almost like a filmed synopsis for those of you who hate reading the back of the amaray. Though it is relatively brief, I am glad chapter stops are included on the featurette.
Though Along Came a Spider is initially something I may have saved for a slow night on HBO, I was pleasantly surprised. Morgan Freeman's presence gives any of his films a reason to be seen and the story progressed nicely. Great audio and video transfers help to make up for the DVD's minimal extras. Those looking for a thriller similar to Silence of the Lambs or Se7en may want to stick to a rental. If you like your ingredients to be 2 parts reality, 1 part thriller, and 1 part Hollywood, then Along Came a Spider may be the perfect recipe.
Movie - B
Image Quality - A
Sound - B+
Supplements - C+
Running time - 1 hour 44 minutes
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English & French Dolby Digital Mono
Featurette - "The Making of Along Came a Spider"
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