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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » First to Die
First to Die
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // August 3, 2004
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Shannon Nutt | posted October 8, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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THE MOVIE

About 15 minutes into First To Die, I was hoping the lucky one would be me. This is a mess of a movie, but one I had to endure...if only so you won't have to.

The most important rule of making a successful film – whether it be a theatrical release or a made-for-television effort like First To Die - is to never insult your audience. But that's what this movie does to us in the very first scene...although we don't realize we've been duped until the final moments. I don't want to give too much away, but lets just say that something we think is going to happen doesn't happen. The viewer is not only misled (which is okay in a mystery) but downright conned – since the scene in question plays out totally differently (the audio is the real culprit...to say any more would give it away). It's like those old movie serials where the hero would go over the cliff in the car at the end of Part 1; only to find out in Part 2 that he was never in the car to begin with.

If there's any consolation to all this, it's in the fact that the rest of First To Die is rather silly as well. It's not horrible, but it's far below-average even for a TV movie (it originally aired on NBC). Based on the novel by James Patterson and directed by Russell Mulcahy (of Highlander fame), the story centers around police detective Lindsay Boxer (Tracy Pollan) who is assigned to investigate a string of "honeymoon murders," where a serial killer is going around killing newlyweds. Boxer's investigation leads her to believe that a famous crime novelist (played by The X-Files' Robert Patrick – the only actor showing any life in this movie) is actually behind it all.

The problem with the movie is with how stupid the lead character acts from time to time. She agrees to report on the case to a local reporter (which would get her fired in real life...but not here); she approaches her suspect and accuses him of the murders while she's still investigating him; and perhaps most laughably of all, her and a few friends (including the aforementioned reporter) decide to form a "Women's Murder Club" so they can discuss the case over coffee once a week. It was at this point in the film that I started rooting for the serial killer.

First To Die clocks in at an excruciatingly long 162-minutes, and I'm guessing some material has been added since the TV-version, since it originally aired in a 3-hour time block with commercials – of which I'm sure NBC had more than 18-minutes worth. The DVD version of First To Die has been rated R, so I think perhaps some of the more violent shots were left out of the TV-version (although even with them, the film really doesn't qualify as an "R", since we see far more graphic stuff on CSI every week).

THE DVD

Video:
One of the few pleasant surprises here is that the film is actually anamorphic widescreen (I'm guessing it's at the 1.78:1 ratio used for most TV shows, although it could be 1.85:1) and not the 4:3 Full Frame that is stated on the back of the box cover. The picture is relatively sharp and about what you'd expect to see for a TV show or movie transferred to DVD.

Audio:
The audio is presented in 2.0 Dolby and sounds decent, and is about what you'd expect for a TV film. Nothing noteworthy, but no dropouts or other glitches.

Extras:
Lion's Gate has added no extras to this DVD. There is a chapter selection, should you feel the need (and you probably will!) to take a break and come back later.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Unless you have a fondness for watching good actors in a poorly scripted TV-movie, you should avoid First To Die. It might be worth it for a rental, assuming you're desperate for some entertainment and everything else has been checked out, but I just can't bring myself to recommend this film in any way shape or form. Then again, maybe just skip the rental and read Patterson's best-selling book...it can't be as bad as this movie – at least I hope not.
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