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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 10/21/98



Wild Things
1998 (1998) - Columbia/TriStar

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Film Rating: A
I think this is a really fun movie, with hardly any faults to be found. All the performances are upper-crust, and the script is wittier than anything else released this year.

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/A/B-
The overall quality of the disc is great, but I did find a few shimmering static shots (more on that below). Sound and color quality are wonderful, with no artifacting to be found.

Overall Rating: B
For a special edition, it's a pretty standard disc. It does contain some outtakes, but don't be fooled - it really isn't much. The commentary track is fun, and there is one outtake that will keep you watching over and over.

Specs and Features

108 minutes, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), full screen, dual-sided, Amaray keep case packaging, commentary track featuring director John McNaughton, three deleted scenes, theatrical trailers for Wild Things and Starship Troopers, film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 and 2.0), French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and French, Close Captioned

Review

Well, all right, all right. I do like high school girls. Especially when they're played by 20-somethings. Wild Things is one of the guiltiest pleasures of the year. Here's a movie where, in the end, no one is likable -- yet you find yourself liking each and every character for some strange reason. The film stars Neve Campbell, Denise Richards, Kevin Bacon and Matt Dillon, and the story is so complicated, that you never know what's really going on. Half the fun of this movie, is in the finding out.

We'll try this the safe way. Matt Dillon is the guidance counselor at Blue Bay High School, a high-profile school for the mostly rich and bratty. Denise Richards, who obviously has quite the crush on Dillon, ends up accusing him of raping her. He knows he didn't do it, and his attorney (Bill Murray) doesn't care if he did it, as long as the pay day is huge. Denise's mom (Theresa Russell) plans to make Dillon pay regardless. Since there's really no proof, and only one girl's accusation, Kevin Bacon (as the police investigator) is having trouble laying anything on Dillon -- that is until Neve Campbell pops her head out of the shadows. Neve plays a trailer trash girl, who claims to have also been raped by Dillon. Poor Matt. Of course, there's about 16 twists and turns, and no one is what they appear to be, but it's fun trying to figure it all out.

On top of the stellar cast (who give first rate performances), it has a director who is no stranger to the grimy side of human nature. Directed by John McNaughton, Wild Things is a completely exciting piece of exploitation. McNaughton, who gave us Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer and Mad Dog and Glory, is at his best when spinning character studies about people you would never want to meet (but if you did, you'd hang with them for hours).

As a DVD, Wild Things is a fine watch. I did notice something weird, but hardly noticeable - the picture has a very apparent "digital" quality. Many of the shots in the film are very still, and so they have a tendency to "vibrate". Not a whole lot mind you, but you can tell there is a slight back and forth wiggle to the images. [Editor's Note - This is likely some form of edge enhancement or digital video noise reduction.] That's not to say the picture quality is bad. It's not -- it's very clear. It may be a bit too sharp for my taste (yes, my TV is properly calibrated -- thank you very much). The colors don't bleed, and there is no visible artifacting to be found anywhere. The sound is hot -- and this was a disc I was looking forward to, being a huge Morphine fan. The cool bass and sax combo on the soundtrack sounds ultracool on DVD, coming out of 5.1 channels of discrete digital audio.

The disc has loads of extras too, including deleted scenes (although there wasn't any extra scenes with Richards and Campbell - damn, I'm a male pig). There are a couple of quirky scenes featuring Bill Murray. One is between Murray and Robert Wagner (as Richards' attorney), as they talk over stuffed jalapenos. The other is a hilarious loop of Murray, reacting to Dillon saying that he never had sex with his students. They didn't use any of these takes, but they're all pretty funny. The last extra scene is more a curiosity piece than anything else -- an alligator biting the finger off of a handler. Is it real, or fake? I dunno, but I watched it 17 times trying to figure it out. You'll also find an informative commentary track that features the director, editor Elena Maganini, composer George S. Clinton (not the P-Funk G.C.) and producers Rodney Liber and Steven A. Jones. It's very conversational, and it's almost as fun as the movie.

Bottom line

Wild Things is a throwback to the classic mold of film noir thrillers. Nothing is as it seems, which is even more apparent if you stick around to watch the end credits. With touches of wit and over-the-top comedic performances, the film manages a neat trick - you can enjoy it without feeling dirty for having done so. Wild Things makes a decent DVD, which is to say that it beats any other video format version out there. I'd say this is a must own for any movie fan.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com




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