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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 9/28/98

Kiss the Girls
1997 (1998) - Paramount Pictures

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Film Rating: B
A terrific thriller... almost. Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd give their best, but the 'surprise' ending is less than satisfying.

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/C
Yet another dark film, but it looks great in anamorphic widescreen. The audio is also good. A trailer rounds out the mix.

Overall Rating: B
A very good psychological thriller - not the best you'll ever see, but entertaining, with excellent performances. Overall, a nice DVD.

Specs and Features

117 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (26 chapters), languages: English & French (DD 5.1), French (DD 2.0), subtitles: Spanish, Close Captioned


Morgan Freeman stars as Alex Cross, a Washington D.C. police detective who specializes in forensic psychology. Cross can walk into a crime scene and determine all the "hows and whys". But when his niece mysteriously disappears from her college campus in North Carolina, Cross finds himself involved in the most difficult, and personal, case of his life. Cross learns that the Durham police, lead by detective Nick Rushkin (Cary Elwes), have been tracking a long series of similar kidnappings - Cross' niece is only the latest victim. Worse yet, when one of the girls is found dead in the woods, Cross realizes that Rushkin and the others have no clue who the kidnapper is.

Enter Kate Mctiernan (Ashley Judd) an attractive and intelligent young doctor at a local hospital. Kate is knocked unconscious and abducted from her house late one evening, and finds herself held in captivity with the other missing girls, including Cross' niece. The kidnapper, it seems, is a collector. But Kate manages to escape, fleeing into the woods and nearly killing herself in the process. Now she's Cross' only hope for catching the kidnapper, a man known only as Casanova.

Based on the best-selling novel by James Patterson, Kiss the Girls is one of those movies where the journey is more important than the destination. The performances are all first-rate. Morgan Freeman is as good as ever, and Ashley Judd really shines. In my opinion, Judd's presence in a film's cast speaks volumes as to the quality of the project - she's clearly one of the most talented young actresses working today. The script is well written, and the direction by Gary Fleder (Things to Do in Denver when You're Dead) is also generally very good. The only real problem here is one piece of give-away casting, that really undermines the finale. I won't give away the ending, but when the identity of the kidnapper is finally revealed, I was less than surprised. A lot less. In fact, I had it pegged 20 minutes into the movie. Oh, well... it's still a darn good flick.

As DVDs go, it's none too bad as well. As with the rest of Paramount's first wave of DVD releases, Kiss the Girls is a very dark film. The lighting is very subdued. The film a bleak, moody look, quite appropriate to the story. It could easily have been a transfer and compression nightmare, but the anamorphic widescreen picture on the DVD is fantastic. Good colors, deep contrast - very nice. It's not quite up to the level of Face/Off or First Contact, but it still looks great.

The audio is also very good. Once again, you must select the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack prior to playing the film, or you'll hear Dolby Surround. The 5.1 track is subtle and atmospheric - no real surround gimmicks here, which is as it should be. Nonetheless, the surround channels are nicely used to help create a sense of space, and to add an extra bit of tension to a scene. The effect is very satisfying. 5.1 audio is also provided in French, and there are Spanish subtitles, and English captions. A decent theatrical trailer is also included.

Bottom line

If you like a good psychological thriller, and first-rate acting, Kiss the Girls ought to be right up your alley. The ending doesn't quite deliver after the build-up, but it's an enjoyable ride anyway. There's some fine work here by Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd. And aside for the lack of extras, the DVD quality is good all around. Kiss the Girls definitely merits a look.

Bill Hunt
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