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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Along Came a Spider (Blu-ray)
Along Came a Spider (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // R // October 13, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted November 4, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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THE FILM:

Click an image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p resolution.

The twists and turns of Lee Tamahori's Along Came a Spider are impressive on first viewing, but lose some of their luster if you revisit the movie, which is based on James Patterson's novel. Morgan Freeman returns to the role of detective Alex Cross, but, contrary to the pull-quote on the Blu-ray packaging, Along Came a Spider is not "even better than Kiss the Girls." This film's source material was written before "Kiss the Girls," but each story stands alone. Freeman is a reliable protagonist, but co-stars Monica Potter and Michael Wincott are somewhat lost in his shadow. The film moves quickly for 104 minutes, and there is enough suspense to keep your attention, even if plot holes are readily apparent.

Cross retires after losing his partner in an undercover operation. Several years later, Megan Rose (Mika Boorem), the daughter of a U.S. senator, is kidnapped from her elite private school by a man posing as her teacher, Gary Soneji (Wincott). This man calls to taunt Cross, who works alongside the girl's bodyguard, Jezzie Flannagan (Potter), to secure her return. This story worked well in Patterson's novel, but has been simplified considerably for the screen. Gone is the sexual relationship between Cross and Flannagan, and Soneji's criminal conspiracy is far less complicated here than on the page. One issue I have with Along Came a Spider is that it basically guts Cross' intellect and case-cracking skills. Freeman's Cross goes with the flow instead of actively investigating and solving crimes. He is a puppet, not the puppeteer.

The kidnapper is motivated not by greed but by a need to be noticed. The film teases an obsession with the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, but never really follows through. I do not want to spoil the movie so I will not discuss specifics, but the narrative, at least as explored in this film, does not hold water. There are numerous plot holes, most of which involve the kidnapper acting contrary to character in order to facilitate certain revelations. For a guy who meticulously planned the abduction of a senator's kid, Soneji does some stupid things when under the gun. I do like Patterson's idea that Soneji uses others as pawns in his game, and at least some of that comes through on screen involving Cross, Flannagan and others. There is obviously more at work here, though viewers may not be surprised when all is revealed.

Plot holes and logic be damned, at least Along Came a Spider is entertaining. Once the cards are revealed, the ride has less impact, but I still enjoyed my repeat viewing. Freeman's character is given less to do here than in Kiss the Girls, but is still tasked with the emotional baggage of losing a partner on the job. Tamahori's direction is diligent but unflashy, and some of the action recalls TV-level drama. The R rating allows for impactful violence, and I did believe Megan was in constant danger. Along Came a Spider is not an especially memorable thriller, but it is at least a serviceable adaptation of Patterson's novel.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

Warner Brothers releases this Paramount catalogue title on Blu-ray for the first time with a so-so 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image that lacks glaring problems but never blows you away. Sourced from what I imagine is a dated master, the image offers decent fine-object detail and texture. There are occasional blown-out highlights and pinkish skin tones, but I noticed a pleasant lack of edge halos. Black levels are mostly good, though a bit of crush creeps into darker scenes. The color scheme is bland throughout, but the transfer handles saturation well. I noticed minor aliasing and very minor print damage.

SOUND:

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is also fine. There are some thrilling aural elements that add to the mood and make use of the surrounds. Dialogue is clear and balanced appropriately, and the score is decently deep. Footsteps, gunfire and yelling travel the sound field, and the subwoofer is given a light workout during some action-oriented scenes. There are 5.1 Dolby Digital dubs in German, Spanish and French, and there are 2.0 Dolby Digital dubs in Spanish (Latin), Portuguese and Polish. There are a plethora of subtitle options.

EXTRAS:

None.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross follow-up to Kiss the Girls is the weaker of the two films thanks to a narrative that loses some of James Patterson's twists and turns. Logic be damned, but the film is entertaining. Monica Potter and Michael Wincott struggle to keep up with Freeman, whose Cross is given little to do. Rent It.


Additional screenshots:

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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