Along Came a Spider (2001)

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Released 5-Jun-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Making Of
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 98:50
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Lee Tamahori
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Morgan Freeman
Monica Potter
Michael Wincott
Penelope Ann Miller
Michael Moriarty
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $39.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Hebrew
Croatian
Slovenian
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes, the credits roll over the final scene

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Along Came a Spider is a suspenseful detective story with some genuine plot twists.

    When a US Senator's daughter is kidnapped, the kidnapper (Michael Wincott) challenges renowned Washington DC Police Detective and Forensic Psychologist Dr. Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) to find the girl. To solve the case, Cross reluctantly teams up with a new partner (Monica Potter), the Secret Service Agent who had been assigned to protect the missing girl.

    Following 1997's Kiss The Girls, Along Came a Spider is the second of James Patterson's best-selling Alex Cross novels to be adapted into a movie. Obviously a movie can never do justice to all the plot intricacies of a novel, nor should it. Along Came a Spider retains the basic premise of the novel, but the movie departs from the original story considerably. Thus, if you have read the book, you may not know how this movie ends.

    Freeman effortlessly plays Cross, and brings a lot of dignity to both the character and the movie. The strength of his performance allows viewers to easily overlook the occasional plot hole. Potter, on the other hand is not his equal, and bears an uncanny resemblance in appearance, voice and acting style to Julia Roberts. Wincott is convincing as the kidnapper, and provides a strong, understated performance.

    Overall this is a quality production, and it is certainly worth renting for an evening's entertainment, but don't expect the sort of gripping or disturbing experience that Silence of the Lambs or Se7en provided.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Generally, this transfer is very good. The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is very sharp, and good examples of the sharpness include the fine texture of Cross' jumper (11:40), and the detailed Washington DC street scenes (41:55 and 63:08). There are a number of dark scenes in the movie, and the black level and shadow detail are excellent. Examples of the excellent shadow detail include a shot of a car interior at night (53:38) and inside a dark room (79:43).

    The colour is a little drab at times, but I assume that this is intended for artistic and dramatic reasons.

    There are no MPEG artefacts, but there is aliasing throughout the movie. Examples of this include the shimmer of the brickwork (5:07), a row of books on a desk (36:56) and steps to a building (46:27). While not overly distracting, it is rather annoying.

    There are also film artefacts throughout the movie. Examples appear at 8:17, 28:41, 33:16, 40:34, 47:39 and 69:06. Thankfully these are small and not disruptive.

    All the subtitles promised on the packaging are present. The English subtitles are slightly simplified but reasonably accurate. For example, "Hey Jez, what do we . . . " is subtitled to simply "What do we . . . "

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed during Chapter 8, at 58:46. It is very smooth and as it is between scenes, it is not disruptive.

    The production overall is of a very high standard, but there is some truly awful camera shake at 19:42, some bad (rushed?) CGI work at 4:05, and a very obvious continuity error at 71:32.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This is a great audio track, and the surrounds are used very effectively. There is, however, the occasional, and very brief drop-out of audio. An example occurs at 88:40, but it is not during dialogue, so it is not really noticeable.

    Apart from the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, there is also a French Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track on this DVD.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

    The musical score is credited to well-respected movie composer Jerry Goldsmith. Goldsmith provides a very creepy score featuring dissonant strings and erratic piano doodling.

    The surround sound mix is very good, and the rear speakers are used effectively to help carry the score, for example at 10:41 and 44:52, and to provide ambience, for example the storms at 35:33 and 49:02. There are also a few split rear effects, such as at the train station at 65:33 and 66:03. These are very effective, as they add to the tension of the scene.

    The subwoofer gets quite a work-out during parts of this movie, and good examples of its use include the train at 66:53 and the gunshot at 82:52.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras are slim, but identical to the Region 1 release.

Menu

    The menu has a spider web theme, and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

Theatrical Trailer

    This one minute and fifty second trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, is not 16x9 enhanced, and is accompanied by Dolby Digital stereo audio.

Making of Along Came a Spider

    This fourteen minute advertorial is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, is not 16x9 enhanced, and comes with Dolby Digital stereo audio. Despite the title of this extra, this is actually an extended trailer. Material from the trailer is spliced with brief soundbites from cast members and James Patterson. There are a few behind-the-scenes shots, but nothing substantial.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Along Came a Spider was released on DVD in Region 1 in September 2001.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    The two versions are even, and thus I favour the local release for its affordability, and most importantly, its superior PAL image.

Summary

     Along Came a Spider is an entertaining rental, but not a movie that holds up well to repeated viewing.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are slim.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Saturday, January 19, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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