HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Along Came a Spider
HTS Overall Score:68
After the success of “Kiss the Girls”, forensic psychologist Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) was bound to make another appearance. Making roughly double the theatrical take that “Kiss the Girls” did, you would almost expect that “Along Came a Spider” would be the superior film, but unfortunately it takes a bit of a nose dive compared to the original appearance, even though it takes its adaption from the pages of Patterson’s first novel involving Alex Cross. That’s not to say that it’s a bad movie, but the more urban based thriller was truncated a bit too much for a 1 hour and 40 minute film to get across properly. The plot holes are pretty glaring and the end result is a tad more tepid (although still not as bad as “Alex Cross” with Tyler Perry).
Even though the film goes back to the beginning in terms of the novels, “Along Came a Spider” feels like a definite successor to “Kiss the Girls”. Last time he was struggling to bring home his niece, this time Alex is dealing with the after effects of getting another cop killed. On personal leave, he’s holed up inside his house dealing with his pain. This all comes to an abrupt end when Senator Hank Rose’s (Michael Moriarty) daughter, Megan (Mika Boorem) is kidnapped right under the nose of the secret service agent guarding her at her upscale school for senators and diplomats. Getting a call directly from the kidnapper (played by throaty voiced Michael Wincott), Cross is thrown back into a game of cat and mouse that requires every bit of his sizeable skill.
The Kidnapper doesn’t seem to really want money, but he teases and cajoles Alex Cross into the case, seeming to just want the notoriety of kidnapping someone famous. Now that he’s intimately involved, Cross is pulled into the FBI investigation, despite the misgivings of lead agent Ollie McArthur (Dylan Baker). However, the Senator and his wife insist that Cross stay on the case. The Secret Service agent who has been humiliated for letter her guard down, Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Parker) is set to take the fall for the kidnapping, but also insists on using her abilities to help with the case and retrieve the little girl that was her ward.
Things get more and more confusing as the hours and days roll by. The kidnapper seems to have an ever changing list of demands, as well as ever changing motives. Not only is this evident to Cross and Flannigan, but to the audience as well, as the actions just don’t seem to make a lot of sense. Unfortunately this seems to be a side effect of Marc Moss having to really trim down the huge plotline of the book and make it fit into a shorter film. Pieces of the story that would have explained these lapses and changes in motivations and actions are completely skipped over, leaving the viewer scratching their heads at times.
It doesn’t help that Monica Potter doesn’t play very good opposite Morgan. In “Kiss the Girls” we had a great female protagonist with Ashley Judd, but Potter is rather tepid and just “exists” in the movie. She’s not bad in her role, it’s just the simple fact that she and Freeman don’t really have any real chemistry, despite the fact that the novel had a romantic liaison between the two. On the other hand. Michael Wincott is pure gold. The man is tailor made for playing evil villains, his most iconic being the scary psycho villain “Top Dollar” in Brandon Lee’s “The Crow”. He chews up the scenery with that deep voiced intensity that only he can pull off and makes a truly terrifying kidnapper. On a side note, I did chuckle at seeing Megan’s friend Dimitri at her school being played by a very very young Anton Yelchin.
Rated R for violence and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=56098[/img]The 2.35:1 AVC encoded image looks really nice on Blu-ray. Shot with an anamprophic lens, the image has a nice crisp loo to it. Instead of the copious amount of North Carolina outdoor shots like in “Kiss the Girls”, Cinematographer Mathew Leonetti shoots in an urban environment, and with a decidedly crisper looking image as well. Contrast is well balanced and skin tones look natural. Color saturation is good, with vibrant blues and greens and darker primaries. Shadows look impressive and I see only a few instances of black crush. Fine detail is excellent, but I noticed some of the darker images looked a bit soft at times and lost some of that fine detail. Long shots occasionally look a tad gauzy, but overall the encode looks excellent.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=56106[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track does the job quite nicely, albeit with a mild amount of background noise. Generally the audio is near perfect, with strong vocals and good object localization. However, there are times when you can hear a bit too much background static bleeding into the recording. Comparing it against my old Paramount DVD it seems to be source inherent, as it showed up there as well. Surrounds are active, with some great directional queues and a strong score to fill out the channels. LFE is nice, adding some boom to the track, but it’s never wildly aggressive or deep. Very solid track that being said.
While “Along Came a Spider” was definitely a bigger financial hit for the studio, raking in over double the first film’s domestic gross, it seems to have been a result of the popularity of “Kiss the Girls” as this one just doesn’t have the intensity or staying power. The forced romantic hints between and aging Morgan Freeman and a virile Monica Potter seemed a bit awkward, and the unfortunate plot holes from having to trim down such a large book didn’t help either. Thankfully the audio and video stats are very nice, mirroring the solid encodes that Paramount did for “Kiss the Girls”. Definitely still worth a watch if you enjoyed Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd together though. Recommended for a watch.
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott
Directed by: Lee Tamahori
Written by: James Patterson (Book), Marc Moss (Screenplay)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, German, Spanish DD 5.1, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 103 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 13th 2015
Buy Along Came a Spider On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Decent Watch
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