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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 1/18/00

Lake Placid
1999 (1999) - 20th Century Fox

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Lake Placid Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B+/B

Specs and Features

82 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, "making of" featurette, 3 television spots, theatrical trailer, cast and crew bios, film-themed menu screens with animation and sound, scene access (25 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

There's something in Maine's Black Lake, and it's not friendly. From Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelley comes a funny flick with a literal bite. Lake Placid takes place on a lake in Maine, where a Fish and Game official has just bitten in half (a pretty cool scene that opens the film). A group of investigators are called in, including a prudish paleontologist (Bridget Fonda), a stoic Fish and Game warden (Bill Pullman), a wise-ass and quite disgruntled Sheriff (Brendan Gleeson) and a eccentric and thoroughly wacky expert (Oliver Platt). Together, they must go head to tooth-filled head with a giant Asian crocodile, that can eat a cow as easily as a sheriff can scarf down a Twinkie. The best thing about this film is the interplay between the characters. The tongues in this film are as sharp as the teeth, and both go together quite nicely. No, this film isn't going to win any awards, although some of the effects are pretty good (thanks to a merging of CGI and Stan Winston creature effects). But that hardly matters -- what does matter is that you watch it and enjoy it for what it is, a popcorn flick. I think Lake Placid took an unfair beating in the press based on too-high expectations of David E. Kelly's other work. I hope it finds a wider cult audience on DVD and video and it should.

This DVD is not too much of a special edition. In terms of quality, it lands squarely in the "okay" arena. The video is fine -- there were no problems that I could find. But there's a lack of anamorphic widescreen, which I have a small problem with. I don't think it hurts the picture much, but it's still disappointing. The colors are sharp and the underwater scenes are pretty crisp. It's an adequate picture. The sound is about the same. The menu screens have some sound effects that seem a bit sharp, but the film's soundfield is pretty dead on. There are two sound options to choose from (Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0) and both sound good for the work that they do. There are a few additions as extras, including a standard "making of" featurette pulled from the electronic press kit, three television commercials (each with their own flavor) and the film's theatrical trailer. It's a good offering from Fox, although I really hope they start doing 16x9 on a regular basis.

If Lake Placid is a flick with bite, this DVD is missing a few teeth. Still, it's better than video and that's what matters most. If you love the film, it's worth checking out on DVD. If you heard it sucked, go against the status quo and check it out anyway. Ally this ain't -- but it never wanted to be in the first place. It's actually a very funny movie, with enough scares in it to be worthwhile. I stayed away from it in theaters and I found myself laughing with the movie and never at it. Except at the bear scene. That was pretty silly.

Todd Doogan
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